Thursday, December 24, 2009

L.S.G. - Rendezvous In Outer Space (Original TC Review)

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Superstition: Cat# 2038CD
Released 1995

Track List:
1. Wrong Time - Wrong Place (9:50)
2. Lonely Casseopaya (3:56)
3. My Time Is Yours (5:53)
4. Can You See The Yellow Turtles (5:40)
5. Miss Understanding (2:42)
6. Sweet Gravity (4:43)
7. Sweet G #2 (2:43)
8. The Hidden Sun Of Venus (5:05)
9. Lunar Orbit (2:27)
10. Everything Is (2:18)
11. Enter Paradise (7:02)
12. Fontana (8:17)
13. Reprise (1:43)


(2010 Update:
When I first started writing for TranceCritic, I had a few writing projects in mind, one of which was to review every single L.S.G. album in a monthly series. Er, it's still a work in progress, though I only have a couple left to do. Patience, my friends, patience.)



IN BRIEF: The L.S.G. debut album. Ten years later, it still hasn't lost its shine.

Everyone knows Oliver Lieb, even if they don't realize it. His tracks have appeared on countless trance albums, compilations, and DJ mixes (from the superstars to the not-so-superstars). His contributions to trance as a whole have been felt from the earliest days of the genre's existence, rightfully earning him the title of the Godfather of Trance. Yet, because he has more aliases than a centipede has legs, Lieb has maintained a remarkably low profile, consistently releasing excellent material without much fanfare aside from those in the know. One of his aliases did manage to gain notice though, thanks in large part to prominent DJs playing out Lieb's music: L.S.G.

After a string of singles, Lieb released the first L.S.G. full length album in 1995 with Rendezvous In Outer Space, a rather suitable title considering what's to follow on this album. Yes, my friends, Rendezvous In Outer Space is trance... as in original trance (classic trance, real trance, old timer's trance, 'techno'), the kind of stuff that uses plenty of spacey, hypnotic, electronic sounds to draw the listener into other-worldly soundscapes.

But wait, progressive-anthem-epic trance lovers, don't flee just yet. One of the reasons the L.S.G. releases became so popular was for Lieb's talent of infusing soaring synth melodies into his tracks. Indeed, much of what is heard at even this early stage of L.S.G. productions still sounds amazingly up to date, as though they could have been produced just this past year and fit snuggly into any trance DJ's set at peak time.

Still, Lieb often crafted his albums with certain themes in mind, so not everything on Rendezvous is pure trance.

In fact, the first track, Wrong Time - Wrong Place, really is nothing more than an opener; a teaser of things to come. Sure, it is a nine minute long track with plenty of momentum but half of it is fairly standard lead in, with layers of synths, effects, and percussion progressively being added. By the time the main lead starts up, we're already four minutes into it.

This isn't a bad thing by any means, of course. All too often an album will put all its eggs into the basket with the opener, leaving the listener with not much to look forward to. By letting Wrong Time - Wrong Place just subtly hint at what to expect, the anticipation can only grow.

As the song finishes up, the melancholic, stuttering synth chords of Lonely Casseopaya emerge from the background, eventually given time to just play on their own -and why not? They really are quite lovely to listen to. A bit of simple rhythm is eventually added but it doesn't take away from the main melody, allowing it to carry this song throughout.

My Time Is Yours materializes as Lonely Casseopaya ends, treating us to an ominous contrast to the previous track with a looming sample uttering the track's title. The pace picks up as eerie, raspy synth pads weave about with sputtering electronic lines. In a mild breakdown halfway through, an innocent sounding melody counteracts the menacing atmosphere, creating a wonderful play on contrasts within this track as it rushes towards its end.

So far we've been treated to some great sounding individual songs here but Lieb seems ready to take us further into his trip through the cosmos with tracks that complement the next very well.

Can You See The Yellow Turtles certainly gets us going on the right foot, as it drives with even more energy than My Time Is Yours did. After some three minutes of vigorous rhythms, a distorted, stuttering pad creates an incredibly moving melody, feeding off the heavy percussion to create an unforgettable, sonic treat. Miss Understanding slides quite comfortably in as Yellow Turtles ends on its main pads, matching the former track's atmosphere quite nicely with punchy rhythm that doesn't lose anything during the switch. In fact, they harmonize with each other so well, for a while I thought they were the same track.

However, Miss Understanding doesn't get much of a chance to show off, as it ends almost as soon as it begins. A bit of a shame, I suppose, as there are some interesting effects at play here, but Lieb has relegated this track as a transitional song to lead us into Sweet Gravity.

Now this is what I love to hear in trance: unique sounds creating new melodies. At first, the guttural effect used here certainly doesn't sound like it could be used to make any music out of, but as Lieb adds higher pitches to this sound, notes seem to emerge. The low and high pitches play around about for a minutes worth of lead in but never mingling, merely hinting and teasing at things to come. Thus, when the two octaves merge just as the kick hits, the release of primal energy is potent.

However, Lieb doesn't play this up as much as he potentially could. Instead of coming on even fiercer, he seems quite content to let a flat, muted version of this lead take over for most of the rest of Sweet Gravity, only bringing the original sounds back towards the end. Sour grapes, I guess, but perhaps he wanted to take the energy level down a bit following the previous two tracks as we are beginning to head into the more ethereal part of Rendezvous In Outer Space.

Sweet G (#2) more or less retains the same basic melody as its former compatriot, except relies on spacey synth chords and atmospherics than infectious hooks and driving rhythms (although, it does briefly have some of that, too). As the song fades out, eerie pads emerge as The Hidden Sun Of Venus takes us on an ambient excursion through space. Mechanical effects pulse their way along as these synthy sonic textures meander about, which makes the shift into Lunar Orbit very smooth, the latter's atmosphere even more mechanically ominous than anything else on this album. After this ten-minute sequence of three tracks, one could feel as though they'd taken a brief tour through the inner solar system.

A fairly simple little trancer with Everything Is takes us back down to Earth. Relying more on rhythm and hypnotic effects than anything else to carry it forward, the track merely serves its purpose to segue us nicely into Enter Paradise, a track that flies with fantastic synth chords, stuttering electronic lines, and energetic rhythms. As this song ends, the synth chords are replaced with voice pad chords to end off on a harmonious note. This would have been a perfect cap on an already solid album but Lieb manages to go one better with what follows.

Abandoning all the standard rhythmic structures that have been previously established on Rendezvous, Lieb explores the frenetic percussive elements of breakbeat tracks in Fontana's lead in. The rhythm gets really busy as layers are continuously added for nearly two and a half minutes, yet no solid kicks of any sort surface. Mildly breaking down at this point, a soaring melody emerges, using a similar distorted, stuttering synth pad that was wielded wonderfully in Yellow Turtles. Some two minutes later, the main melody takes a seat to allow Lieb to get creative with the percussion, embellishing with hi-hats, snares, and toms like a kid with his first drum kit. And, while that wonderful melody doesn't exactly return in Fontana, in the aptly named Reprise, it gets the full glory to play out with orchestral strings as a gentle pulse throbs in the background like a heartbeat -now that's a way to cap off an album.

While Rendezvous In Outer Space isn't exactly the greatest album Lieb produced as L.S.G. (although still leagues above many contemporary trance acts), it is undeniably the most comprehensive of them. Touching upon all facets of the alias, it serves as the best primer if you are just getting into the L.S.G. works, as the various themes throughout would be explored in greater detail in later albums. From here, you could leap into the harder sounds of The Black Album from My Time Is Yours, or the otherworldly Into Deep from The Hidden Sun Of Venus, or the trancey favorites of Volume 2 from Lonely Casseopaya and Fontana, depending on your particular taste.


Score: 8/10

ACE TRACKS:
Lonely Casseopaya
My Time Is Yours
Fontana


Written by Sykonee. Originally published 2005 for TranceCritic.com.© All rights reserved.

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