Review: “Above & Beyond Acoustic” is Beautiful.
Bands and musical acts have done it in the past. Look at Metallica when they joined forces with the San Francisco Symphony. Nirvana and Alice in Chains did it when they traded their electric guitars for acoustics. Above & Beyond are notably the world’s biggest electronic act, selling out famous venues like Madison Square Garden and The Forum. Yet, in 2016, they left the electronic world and decided to go acoustic. The film follows the group through an unlikely journey that ends with an incredible performance at the Hollywood Bowl. And after viewing this film, without knowing much about Above & Beyond, all I can say is this:
Watch it. Just do it. Please.
CINEMATICS (CINEMATOGRAPHY, ACTING, PLOT, ETC.) – 5
Accented by previously-recorded rehearsals and interviews, the film centers on Above & Beyond’s Hollywood Bowl performance. Plot and acting aren’t particularly evident. They don’t need to be. The film is about the power of music and the beautiful transition from electronic to acoustic. And it’s presented through breathtaking cinematography, seamless editing, and powerful directing. I can’t give enough praise for Myles Desenberg and Paul Dugdale as directors and Giles Dunning as the cinematographer.
They use their crafts to magnify the exquisite music/experience cascading throughout the Hollywood Bowl. The filmmaking shows the world how Above & Beyond took their electronic act and turned it into something special, truly. The music sends inspiration through your body in the form of goosebumps and comfort. It morphs with the visual spectacle into a full-body experience that’s hard to forget and describe in words.
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE – 4
Every aspect of this film is entertaining. However, it was tough finding purpose during the documentary scenes. In this style of film, it’s great to see behind-the-scenes footage. In this case, there’s plenty of footage from rehearsals and simple interviews. But for me, I would’ve liked to have seen more content dedicated to the thought/creation process of the group.
Taking electronic songs and turning them into acoustic versions is hard work. There’s a bit of footage pertaining to the re-orchestration of the songs, but not enough. Most of the scenes are slice-of-life where they follow the performers through the process. If this film was only the musical performance, this category might’ve received a 5/5. Backstage footage is great, but if it’s boring compared to the marvelous musical counterpart, then the scenes come across as pointless filler.
REWATCHABILITY – 5
Will be showing it to my parents, girlfriend, and friends. Probably will buy the album as well… definitely will.
- Entertainment Value
In 2016, Jono Grant, Tony McGuinness and Paavo Siljamäki (aka Above & Beyond - one of the world’s most successful dance acts) left the electronic music world behind. "Above & Beyond Acoustic: Giving Up The Day Job" follows the Grammy-nominated trio’s unlikely journey from the DJ booth to the Hollywood Bowl, from the initial re-imagining of songs at Abbey Road Studios, through to their presentation at iconic venues such as London’s Royal Albert Hall, the Sydney Opera House and finally the Hollywood Bowl, where they were joined by a 34-piece orchestra. The film offers an intimate, behind-the-scenes glimpse of one of the world’s biggest dance acts as they risk it all to go acoustic.