Winter Music Conference

Above and Beyond Flies High over Trance's Naysayers

Trance remains one of those peculiar genres with as many admirers as detractors. For years, even as it climbed international pop charts, some electronic music circles persistently criticized it for being too simplistic and formulaic. Yet trance has not only endured but also thrived, outselling most styles of dance music while weaving itself into ever more intricate variations.

In recent years, no other group has done more for trance than British threesome Above & Beyond. Their cool 2005 debut album, Tri-State, defied clear categorization by seamlessly fusing signature trance strings with unexpected exotic breakbeat algorithms and uplifting vocals. At the same time, the group's label, Anjunabeats, remains one of dance music's powerhouses, regularly releasing coveted singles that defy pigeonholing.

"Nowadays it's a potpourri of styles," Above & Beyond's Jonathan "Jono" Grant says by cell phone from London. "Everyone is mixing things, and that's a good thing. It's not like a few years back, when everyone was separated, doing their own little things."

For this year's WMC, the trio will showcase its Anjunabeats roster at Karu & Y and perform at Ultra. "What's great about WMC is that the whole of America comes to one gig," Jono says. "All the hard-core fans will be coming together in one place."

As for the Ultra appearance, the three musicians plan to mix their own written and produced tracks with current favorites via their trademark multitextured approach. "The three of us pay a lot of attention to the details," says Jono. "There are things that might seem insignificant to some people, but we spend a lot of time getting the details right. That's what sets us apart."

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José Dávila