» Tune of the week: O.B.M Notion - Marina
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 » Album of the month: Pharmacy: Phase Five - Mixed By Frost Raven
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© Above & BeyondThe monthly newsletter from Above & Beyond not only features all the very latest what the trio have been up to but also the individual thoughts of each one of them ever month. Tony McGuinness takes the reins for this month…

Our recent landmark party for ABGT350 in Prague was hugely enjoyable and seems to have been a big success. One of the hallmarks of these shows is the new music all the artists on the roster rush to finish for the event. Unlike our other shows which mix old and new, the emphasis is on presenting as much new music as possible and this year was a bumper crop from all the acts, with Gabriel & Dresden and Tinlicker playing tracks from their new albums and the rest of us doing our best to keep up. After so much outpouring it was nice to be able to spend some time since getting some input and I’ve tried really hard to see and hear music and art from all directions. The day after ABGT350 I went to see some of Prague’s world famous string players performing Mozart, Vivaldi and Satie and since then have been on a roll. I was lucky enough to see our support act from the first LA Acoustic shows, RY X, play a sold out show at The Royal Albert Hall, go to Antony Gormley’s show at the Royal Academy, see Orpheus and The Underworld at the English National Opera and sit, reduced to stunned silence by Joaquin Phoenix’s performance in Joker. Let’s see if I can keep it up.


:: Listen to the set from ABGT350 here

SONGWRITING


Anyone involved in creative writing will know, there are brief moments when it’s as easy as breathing and stuff just seems to be channeling through you from somewhere else, and more frequent times when nothing comes and it turns into hard work. This is particularly true with lyrics; the first verse will often come easily but then you’ve set up a rhythm and rhyming structure you have to follow in the second verse and now it’s a crossword puzzle. I’ve read a lot of books and articles about things you can do to help and have picked up a lot of techniques over the years. My most used option is to walk or drive around so you’re approaching the work out of the corner of your eye, as it were. In an acute moment of writing block during the Common Ground sessions I texted my dear friend Michael Stipe for help and within minutes he’d sent me three screens worth of text advice that have stayed with me. One of his most helpful suggestions was “Make a pilgrimage somewhere even if it’s the shitty deli you’ve never visited. Take a bus you’ve never taken before. Upset your brain and get out of routine. Routine can kill creative thought.” I did exactly that: I went to Buenos Aires and walked about for a week listening to different music and visiting coffee shops, museums and statues, scribbling in my note book. I didn’t go anywhere near the songs I had to finish until I got home, but when I did it was much easier for me: Happiness Amplified and Bittersweet & Blue seemed to finish themselves.


DJ FREINDLINESS


Dance records are the first genre in history meant to be played two at a time, typically during the intro and outro, or as we DJs hopefully say, the mix in and mix out sections. Whether you’re record shopping on Beatport or listening to promo submissions those bits are weirdly critical and can make an otherwise awesome track unplayable in a DJ set. I’m still amazed that people get it so wrong and you can really tell if a producer doesn’t DJ if the in and out sections are too musical. You obviously need some recognisable parts of the track in those sections so people can hear it coming in and fading out, but complicated chords and chord changes in these sections may render your track unplayable. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve dumped a track from ABGT because it clashes like this. Root notes, drums and percussion without melodic certainty, even fifths sometimes can be great, minor 7th pad chords are the kiss of death. Spare a thought for us DJs who still mix: your track will get more plays if it can blend with lots of other tracks, none if it won’t.


SCUBA DIVING


I’m off today to spend a week on a liveaboard dive boat sailing around the Maldives and diving the reefs below. I’ve been scuba diving for a long time but maybe surprisingly haven’t had as many opportunities to do so since Above & Beyond as our schedule seldom allows for that extra day you need after diving before you can fly again. But I’m taking the time this time to do it properly. Diving is the closest I’ve been to flying, a rare opportunity to be weightless, effortlessly zooming around in a quiet, peaceful and incredibly beautiful alien world. I’m genuinely excited to be returning to the Maldives, a pleasure made more acute by the threat of rising sea-levels to this beautiful area. When you’ve been doing it as long as I have you start to notice the very real damage to the coral reefs that fishing, over-diving and bad waste disposal can wreak. The “don’t touch anything” rule I learned as a beginner does not seem to have been heeded by mankind overall. I hope we can take better care of the biosphere so future generations can see it too.


:: Shop
:: Listen
:: Live


 

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