Through the years 2000-2020: Anjunabeats’ metamorphosis in 20 seminal releases [Stream]
In 2000, two producers by the names of Jono Grant and Paavo Siljamäki set out to fulfill their then-university project by name of Anjunabeats. Shortly after, the duo was joined by Tony McGuinness, then forming a trio that would go on to become globally recognized as one of the defining trance acts of the decade. 20 years later and well—the rest is history. Now, Anjunabeats has become home to a rich amalgamation of electronic talent, finding ground as a consistently beloved and paradigmatic imprint among both its dedicated fanbase and the overarching scene. Its symbiotic relationship with label-heads Above & Beyond has been key to not only the birthing of legends like Mat Zo, Audien, Seven Lions, Jason Ross, ARTY, and countless others, but also the nurturing of a community tied by a love for the Anjuna sound.
Avenues such as the long-running Anjunabeats compilation series, Group Therapy radio, and annual showcase tours have all become synonymous with the Anjunabeats brand. Originated as a vehicle for Above & Beyond’s own musical outputs, Anjunabeats has since grown to encompass a platform much grander than it initially set out to be—its evolution spurred by ever-expansive A&R efforts and reaping of talent across the freshest trance and progressive.
As for the label’s landmark occasion, the celebratory agenda has seen a particularly prodigious run and no shortage of releases, all reflective of the brand’s metamorphosis over time. In sync with yearly traditions, the latest installment of the imprint’s treasured compilation series, Anjunabeats Volume 15 was delivered on July 31, charged with 34 tracks of exclusive and cutting-edge material. Meanwhile, Above & Beyond toast to their historical career hits with a massive three-disc Club Mix collection, reviving classics like “Thing Called Love,” “Alchemy,” and more. Conjunctively, Anjunabeats has called on their veteran roster for an extensive compilation mix encapsulating each artist’s all-time favorite records from the label. With Oliver Smith having kicked off the momentous homage and Sunny Lax, Nitrous Oxide, Maor Levi, and Mat Zo following suit with their own mixes, a total of 20 Anjunabeats tastemakers are set to take reign of the highly-anticipated curatorial endeavor.
“Our twentieth year certainly turned out to be a memorable one, didn’t it? We never saw that coming. But one of the many positive things to come out of Lockdown is that it’s given us, our family of artists, and our team in London a chance to reflect upon the incredible records we’ve been custodians of for the last twenty years. To celebrate our 20th anniversary, we’ll be looking back at the songs that brought this community together through the eyes of the artists that made them and played them,” states Above & Beyond.
As the iconic label celebrates its milestone 20th anniversary, Anjunabeats proudly presents a handpicked selection of defining releases from its inception until the present. Relive the years from 2000 to 2020 as Dancing Astronaut journeys through the most iconic pieces of work from the Anjunabeats catalog: the classics, luminaries, and rising stars all in one.
Stream 20 Years of Anjunabeats below.
2000: Anjunabeats – “Volume One”
The remarkable single that jumpstarted everything, “Volume One” marked the debut of Anjunabeats, known first as Jono and Paavo’s production alias before its eventual placeholder as the label name. As the first-ever release to grace the label, the classic trance track set the stage for years to come.
2001: Above & Beyond pres. Tranquility Base – “Razorfish” (Above & Beyond Bangin’ Mix)
By 2001, the trio of Tony, Jono, and Paavo had fully crystalized as Above & Beyond whilst releasing under a variety of aliases—one of them being Tranquility Base. Interlaced with unyielding tempo and atmospheric pads, the Bangin’ Mix of “Razorfish” brims with the emotional characteristics of nostalgic trance at its core, enticing with its upbeat, yet melodic overtones.
2002: Above & Beyond – “Far From In Love”
Both the sole release of the year and first official Anjunabeats delivery under Above & Beyond, “Far From In Love” encompasses an electrifying bassline and transient piano instrumentals that weave throughout masterful tension builds and rapturous climaxes. Distinctive of the fast tempo and vocal poignance of the trance at the time, the track reigns as an enduring memento of the early Above & Beyond sound.
2003: Above & Beyond pres. OceanLab – “Sky Falls Down”
Above & Beyond’s first effort in teaming up with vocalist Justine Suissa resulted in the highly successful OceanLab debut track, “Clear Blue Water.” Not long after, OceanLab followed up with their second delivery, “Sky Falls Down,” and seized the dance music space through an absolute force of euphoric vocal trance, awash with celestial synth leads and distinct vocals.
2004: Above & Beyond – “Satellite” (Above & Beyond Mix)
Widely known as OceanLab’s breakout track, “Satellite” has lasted as one of the act’s most beloved releases. With a relentless 140 bpm, the fourth OceanLab single cemented the group’s status as vocal trance heavyweights, possessing an authoritative command of orchestral sublimity and equally compelling construction of invigorating basslines.
2005: Smith & Pledger – “Northern Lights”
The combo of Oliver Smith and Mark Pledger yielded an essential number of releases in the early days of Anjunabeats. With “Northern Lights,” the beginning taste of newer trance production could already be felt in the modernized cosmic synths and crisp drum programming—sonic attributes that still resound as timeless to this day.
2006: Luminary – “Amsterdam” (Smith & Pledger Remix)
Reputedly one of the most coveted remixes released on Anjunabeats, the Smith & Pledger remix of “Amsterdam” has garnered acclaim for its breathtaking reimagining of the track. With wistful breakdowns, cinematic arpeggiators, and ethereal soundscapes, the release is definitive of 2000’s trance tastes.
2007: Above & Beyond pres. Tranquility Base – “Oceanic”
“Oceanic” found Above & Beyond reprise their Tranquility Base moniker for another experimentally-categorized single. Comprised of hard-hitting mix-ins and mix-outs contrasted by a calm overlay, the track recalls its namesake in its sprawling atmosphere and uplifting chord progressions.
2008: Signalrunners – “Meet Me In Montauk”
2007 witnessed the Anjunabeats debut of Signalrunners, a project formed by Alan Nimmo and Andrew Bayer. One year later, the pair returned for a consecutive triple release, concluding with “Meet Me In Montauk.” Wrapped in glacial timbres and downtempo auras, the gleaming production animates with surrealist, chilled-down progressions in an ultimate audiovisual inspiration of vast scenic territories.
2009: Above & Beyond pres. Oceanlab – “On A Good Day”
Deriving from OceanLab’s debut studio album Sirens of the Sea, “On A Good Day” continues to be cherished in the OceanLab catalog for its poignant theme and profound lyrics, which find universal ground among listeners. Aided by Justine Suissa’s galvanizing performance, the track blends the emotionality of trance with the commercial appeal of progressive.
2010: Super8 & Tab feat. Jan Burton – “Empire”
In “Empire,” Jan Burton‘s distinguished voice take centerpiece as the electro-tinged production unfolds with stabbing basslines and atmospheric waves. Reflecting a shift towards progressive and house inclinations, the Super8 & Tab release embraced the wide appeal of slower-paced trance and pop-friendly vocal alignments.
2011: Above & Beyond feat. Richard Bedford – “Sun & Moon”
Arguably Above & Beyond’s most widely recognizable release, “Sun & Moon” planted the UK group onto the international radar. The iconic hook, emotional lyricism, and Richard Bedford‘s beloved vocals have persisted as both a favorite “push the button” track and fan choice. One of several standouts from Above & Beyond’s critically-acclaimed 2011 LP, Group Therapy, “Sun & Moon” fuses uptempo beats with bittersweet melodies.
2012: Mat Zo feat. Linnea Schossow – “The Sky”
“The Sky” served as a precursor to Mat Zo’s seminal debut album Damage Control, which landed the following year. Displaying a magnitude of boundary-pushing upheaval, Zo articulates a hypnotism through progressive layers—illustrating a haunting veil of vocals enclosed by controlled distortions and ballistic synths that culminate in pure adrenaline. Marked by a keenness to sound design and total relinquish of tension, the dimension-transporting track and its experiential approach to dance music have re-established repeatedly Zo as a prodigy ahead of his time.
2013: Mat Zo & Porter Robinson – “Easy”
Appearing on Mat Zo’s 2013 LP, Damage Control, “Easy” became an instant breakout hit while going on to pave the way for both Zo and Porter Robinson in their respective niches. The collaborative release unified bright electro features, french house inspirations, and commercial appeal in its climatic delivery of the euphoric melody.
2014: Above & Beyond feat. Zoë Johnston – “We’re All We Need”
Taken from Above & Beyond’s 2014 LP, We Are All We Need, the titular track features the vocals of another long-time A&B staple, Zoë Johnston. Embracing a bigger stage sound with commercial trance elements, the single shines a beacon of hope with its profound lyricism and cinematic buildup.
2015: Wrechiski & Jason Ross – “Atlas”
Traversing massive trance sounds, “Atlas” and its house-infused structure reflected a directional change in the overarching scene that launched trance into the mainstream. Just a year after Jason Ross‘ Anjunabeats debut, the joint release showcased a compelling melodic core with rich synth pads, emotive vocal chops, and warehouse mixes.
2016: ilan Bluestone feat. Giuseppe De Luca – “Bigger Than Love”
The release marked the first of several unions between ilan Bluestone and vocalist Giuseppe De Luca, solidifying a dynamism akin to Above & Beyond and Zoë Johnston, Cosmic Gate and Emma Hewitt, and other idiosyncratic producer-vocalist icons. Featuring pulsating bass and impassioned vocals, “Bigger Than Love” shot Bluestone’s coveted “tronce” sound into the electronic stratosphere.
2017: Above & Beyond feat. Richard Bedford – “Northern Soul”
Debuting the track at their milestone ABGT250 show, Above & Beyond found themselves reunited with Richard Bedford on “Northern Soul.” A house-edged trance production bolstered by Beaky’s soul-stirring performance, the release doubled as an immediate anthem for both Detroit and festival crowds.
2018: Andrew Bayer feat. Alison May – “Open End Resource”
A masterpiece woven through indie casings, Andrew Bayer’s 2018 LP, In My Last Life sparked an appreciation for divergent electronic influences. Honing in on minimalism, “Open End Resource” bathes in the hybrid colors of trance build-ups and indietronica instrumentation, all the while soaking in simplistic beauty of Alison May’s vocals.
2019: Above & Beyond and Seven Lions feat. Opposite The Other – “See The End”
“See The End” welcomed the inaugural collaboration between Above & Beyond and Seven Lions. Joining the two powerhouse forces, the release spotlights big-stage synths from the trance trio and hard-hitting bass drops characteristic of the Ophelia founder. Driven by the momentum of uplifting vocals and melodic energy, “See The End” stands as a festival staple with anthemic qualities and rousing emotional traits.
2020: Mat Zo feat. Olan – “Problems”
As Mat Zo plots his return to past residence Anjunabeats with forthcoming album Illusion of Depth, his latest single “Problems” pays homage to pre-EDM boom rave culture with its swanky tech influences and alternative vocal filters, intercutting between underground and rock stylings. Ever-experimental, the release epitomizes the modern day values of the imprint as it welcomes back a key innovator in the next chapter of his boundary-pushing execution.
Featured image: Amelia Troubridge