Above & Beyond’s phenomenal ‘Common Ground’ album turns 3 years old
A transcendent collection of music that sits firmly amongst some of the finest electronic albums of recent years, ‘Common Ground‘ is an embodiment of true artistry. 13 tracks and just over 62 minutes in length, the fourth studio album from legendary trance trio Above & Beyond is a journey through the modern sounds for which the three remain so widely loved. Fusing euphoric melodies, vigorous basslines, and blissful vocals is an act of production genius, an abundance of which comes via this album. Three years on from its initial release, we look back at what makes this album so significant in today’s progressive trance scene.
In an ever-changing industry, maintaining an identity whilst keeping pace with the progressing needs and desires of the listener is paramount; Tony McGuinness, Jono Grant, and Paavo Siljamäki are somewhat experts in this field. ‘Common Ground‘ represents the fundamentals of the long-appreciated Above & Beyond sound, but is a step forward from their ‘We’re All We Need‘ that came three years earlier. The nostalgic ‘Sahara Love‘ accompanied by Zoë Johnston embodies that old school feel in a newer format, whilst ‘Is It Love (1001)‘ – with a sneaky uncredited vocal from Grant – contrasts that with a more ‘big room club sound’. The thumping ‘Northern Soul‘, a highlight of the album, sits opposite to the traditional A&B album feel of ‘Bittersweet & Blue‘ – both of which feature the iconic voice of Richard Bedford – and yet all 13 productions rest in equilibrium, despite expressing so many versatile elements at the core of the trio’s past, present, and now-proven future.
This album birthed a number of fan favourites, whether it be in their ‘Common Ground‘ format or the beloved club mixes, with a heap of credit deserving of it’s co-contributors. The vocals of Johnston, Bedford, Justine Suissa, and Marty Longstaff, coupled with the production offerings of Andrew Bayer come together with McGuinness, Grant, and Siljamäki’s years in the craft to generate captivating music for the masses. Vocal bangers are at the heart of the album, but they are sandwiched in by two ambient pieces, ‘The Inconsistency Principle‘ and ‘Common Ground‘, the latter of which was re-released on the ‘Flow State‘ album in 2019. These tracks elegantly start and finish the story that the album tells, whilst finding their own place in the collection. When the Common Ground North America Tour began in December 2017, attendees were already singing the lyrics of the single-releases ‘Tightrope‘, ‘My Own Hymn‘, ‘Alright Now‘, and ‘Northern Soul‘ that came beforehand. As further vocally-stimulating tracks ‘Always‘, ‘Cold Feet‘, and ‘Happiness Amplified‘ followed and the album was released, the tale of Common Ground was spreading far and wide, welcomed openly by the Anjunafamily and establishing a favoured place amongst the trio’s repertoire.
Three years on from the release of this glorious collection of music, you are encouraged greatly to listen back through ‘Common Ground‘ and enjoy this piece of the unfinished Above & Beyond puzzle. It is surely a matter of time before the next instalment comes from the progressive trance legends, but for now you can continue to enjoy ‘Common Ground‘ below.
Image Credit: Above & Beyond (via Twitter)