Thursday, October 17, 2013

L.S.G. - Into Deep (Original TC Review)

Superstition: 1999

(2013 Update:
Woot! And finally, I now have a review of every single L.S.G. album on this blog. Except
Best Of. And Unreleased. Hm, and that Hooj Choons Collected Works too. Okay, every official LP of L.S.G., and no, Unreleased is still sort-of un-official, at least to me. Give us a proper hard-copy version, Mr. Lieb, and then we'll talk.

I'm probably a little gushy in this review, but dammit,
Into Deep just doesn't get the love it deserves. What does it take, huh?)

IN BRIEF: His best.

And then Oliver Lieb peaked.

Oh, I’m sure many out there could point to several different singles across several different aliases that are better than anything on here but in terms of full-length albums, the veteran trance producer has never been better than he was on Into Deep. It seemed, having purged any and all instinctive id with The Black Album, Lieb felt free to explore his meditative ego in this follow-up - it’s the logical musical yin to the previous yang. Or he’d been working on this material alongside the Black Series but never found a proper time and place to release it until after the fact. Who’s to say at this late stage?

Point of the matter is despite the release of Into Deep making artistic sense, it was nonetheless unexpected to hear the L.S.G. moniker taken down this road (though perhaps not nearly as shocking as The Black Album was). This is, after all, the alias of such classic trance cuts like Netherworld, Hearts, and Hidden Sun Of Venus (the trance version). Didn’t Lieb already have an alias for his downtempo stuff? (kinda, but who remembers ‘O.Lieb’?)

The thing that truly was astounding about Into Deep was in how, upon hearing it, folks’ perspective of Lieb changed. He’d garnered plenty of praise for years, yet could never quite shake the stigma of being regarded as “that really good trance producer”. Though many figured he was capable of it, no one really thought he’d actually go and make an album that could be held in the same regard as any of the best efforts from such ‘90s luminaries as The Future Sound Of London, The Orb, or Massive Attack. Yet he did.

For starters, this is one of the few instances you’ll find original lyrics of any sort on an Oliver Lieb album, here provided by one Cybéle de Silveria. Whether it’s to digitally-treated spoken dialog - Spanish for No Causalidad and El Tiburon, and English for Give Me Your Hand - or verses (I’m Not Existing), it adds a fresh angle to the L.S.G. moniker, bringing a proper human element to a project that was already well known for strong emotional music.

And it almost goes without saying, but the emotional punch of this album is of the highest quality. You have tender synthy soundscapes in Jillanity, Into Deep, and Give Me Your Hand; deeply meditative atmospherics in Concatenation, Tiburon Citriño, Quick Star, and I’m Not Existing; and riveting climaxes with El Tiburon, Phorus, and Westside. We’ve heard Lieb strike gold in this field several times, yet seldom with the same level of poignancy as he does here. The whole album ebbs and flows with these moving passages as only the greatest chill releases have. Remarkably, Lieb manages to blend the best of both electronic and organic textures together so they wonderfully complement each other, never compete. In almost all cases, producers have a difficult time accomplishing this, often letting either or overtake in prominence. The closest I’ve heard in recent years that hits this delicate balance comes from the Ultimae camps, but even they have a tendency to let the organic nature of their music take over. Into Deep amazingly stands tall and alone in how it sounds.

All this, and I still haven’t even gotten started on the rhythms. My God, the rhythms! Lieb’s always been excellent in this department but, again, he’d generally been constrained to the techno-trance side of things with tantalizing teases into other beats – breaks in Get Out from Volume Two, for instance, or something experimental like Fontana on Rendezvous In Outer Space and A Day On Our Planet as Spicelab. In producing a purposefully downtempo album, Lieb got to indulge himself with fresh patterns, time signatures, and effects, once again with remarkably stunning results. From steady heartbeat throbs that either pulse (Quick Star) or rumble (Phorus) to layered builds (El Tiburon and the dubbier Bengal Rose), Lieb gives us plenty of wonderful patterns that are just as effective in tapping into the primal recesses of your brain as anything else he’s done.

The two real highlights, though, have to be I’m Not Existing and Westside. The former, having been segued beautifully from the spacey tension-builder that is Quick Star, brings us some of Lieb’s grittiest beats ever, executed with trip-hop proficiency and supported by a disconcerting melody that would have Tricky approvingly bobbing his head along. Meanwhile, Westside, in being the album closer, opts for the pure positive vibe of communal chant, inviting you to clap in unison as the song plays out.

Into Deep is one of those rare albums that tends to occur only once in an artist’s career, if at all; where a musician will tap into the best of their inspiration and execute it with all the experience of a cagey veteran. Though Oliver Lieb successfully carried on, it was never to heights of what was offered here. Even the Best Of album, where he reworked a bunch of L.S.G. singles in the vein of Into Deep, wasn’t quite as good, as it lacked this album’s sublime narrative flow.

Despite bestowing this much praise on Lieb’s masterwork, there’s probably still a number of skeptics out there; after all, Into Deep is seldom namedropped when discussions of Best Electronic Chill Releases are brought up. I honestly don’t have an answer for this. Perhaps the trance association really was too much for folks unfamiliar with Lieb’s work to get over. Whatever the reason though, it’s their loss. Don’t let it be yours too.


ACE TRACKS:
Everything.

Written by Sykonee for TranceCritic.com, 2009. © All rights reserved.


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