Whether played on an icy cold winter evening, a reviving spring afternoon, a cozy summer night or during the autumn haze, Seasons – Les Quatre Saisons will stir up your senses with crystal clear sound and luminous vibrant hues. A gold mine for the creative DJ and a blissful listening experience for the avid curious listener.
Purveyor of creative high quality electronica, dub techno, ambient and more, BineMusic—a residence for artists such as Move D, Scanner, Benjamin Brunn, Sven Schienhammer, Marconi Union and Fingers In The Noise—is releasing its first release in 2013: Seasons – Les Quatre Saisons, an album by one of the label’s most beloved sound sculptures—Lars Leonhard. Seasons – Les Quatre Saisons follows Vivaldi’s concept of his most famous work, The Four Seasons. Twelve pieces, three for each season, and Alvina Red—songwriter, arranger, vocalist and keyboard player—conceptually contributed her voice to the first piece of each season.
Leonhard’s rumble through hypnotic dub techno, warm dreamy electronica and intoxicating deep / tech house is as colorful, dynamic and atmospheric as each season itself. While this type of electronic music often tends to be cold and empty, Seasons – Les Quatre Saisons provides something else, something soulful and enchanting. A 78 minutes long journey full of sharp grooves and mind-tingling manipulations. No fillers included. There are beautiful deep dive sofa flows here like “Spring Day” or the enticing “Colors Of Autumn” but the album also contains dance-floor-friendly monsters like “Dancing In The Noonday Sun” or the vicious “Summer Storms.” Alvina’s spoken words and chants add a narrative, windy, mysterious quality to the album, thanks to her alluring soothing voice. As mentioned on the press release, all tracks were written in their respective season to add authenticity, and the production of the album took almost exactly one year. The hard work certainly paid off and with a little help from Alvina Red, Lars Leonhard served us with a fine sparkling sonic cocktail. Whether played on an icy cold winter evening, a reviving spring afternoon, a cozy summer night or during the autumn haze, Seasons – Les Quatre Saisons will stir up your senses with crystal clear sound and luminous vibrant hues. A gold mine for the creative DJ and a blissful listening experience for the avid curious listener. Another excellent work from Lars Leonhard and BineMusic. Highly recommended.
Vital Weekly (NL)
What I like about Bine Music is their commitment to their artists. Once signed you stay there it seems. So here we have a new release by Lars Leonhard, helped by Alvina Red on vocals. She gets the same front cover credit as Leonhard, but only sings on four of the twelve pieces. Red is from Stockholm, 'gaining her first professional experience at the age of ten as a background singer for Agnetha Faltskog (on 'Take Care Of Your Children', in case you wondered) and work in choirs, and in bands. Thematically the album here is about the four seasons, starting with springtime, then summer, autumn and winter. Each season has two instrumental pieces and one with vocals and it opens with nice, breezy 'Le Printemps'. Leonhard is a man of ambient music, spiced with some fine rhythm, or a man whose slowed down his techno music and added a lot of atmospheric synths - it depends, I guess, from end you look at this. Either case, Leonhard continues what he started on '1549' (see Vital Weekly 798). Deep washes of synth based music, rolling percussion, nice bass sounds and, while never aimed at the dance floor (I think at least), it has too much rhythm to lie back and chill out. It would be a nice challenge to find out if these pieces evoke actually said seasonal changes. Does 'Soaking Wet' have that autumn feel, if you didn't know the title or the idea behind the album? I doubt that, perhaps maybe in the pieces with vocals, providing you don't understand the French lyrics. I think the addition of vocals is a great move. Perhaps because I like female vocals, but the dreamy voice of Red makes a nice addition to the music. I wouldn't have minded getting some more of these, say making the balance 50-50 in this album. Excellent stuff, all round here. Perfect waking up music on a dreary winter/monday morning. (FdW)
Mihai Costin / Reash
When we usually find ourselfs with the "No Comment" statement, the mind tends to judge it as a lack of information. This LP is clearly not the case. Soon as one presses the play button, he understands Lars Leonhard had an ace up his sleeve. In the first tune, the "No Comment Original Mix”, the strait beat inflicts a feeling that any hip loves. Slowly but surely the groove builds up alongside the beautyful crafted scapes. Twords the end the picture halts for a few moments, enough to give time for the mind to wrap itself around the break following lush harmonies. The "Anywhere Edit” of the same tune hits right from the start with an exquisite dub feeling that seems to ride along with no effort at all. If one thinks the attention to detail is lacking, it should be patient and hold on, as an irie pad will wash any thought away. And then this soul smasher gets an instictive replay. As far as the third edit goes, the lack of any typical drums doesn`t harm that much. In fact it lifts the pressure up after the first few seconds, as it nails the message whitout the need of percussion. After all it is called "Before The Sunset Edit" and the analogy is perfect. It has the strength it needs to furfill the task of a first track in any set, or last one. It can even groove while you are passing along a tree or a cat. Sven Schienhammer`s ”Quantec Mix” creeps in with excelent display of tehnique. The stedy but constant build up fails to receive any bad words, and that is good. The soul riping simplicity has a soul purpouse: to please any straight beat lover out there. If glitches turn you on, then you should go for Thomas Touzimsky`s ”What Was The Question Again Mix”. As soon as the first seconds spill away, one notices the tension doesn`t melt. It holds on for a minute and then makes way for supreme riffs, offering those goose bumps everyone is after. It`s no surprise that after the break the theme keeps evolving untill the very end of the tune. When it comes down to the ”Mix Scanner Mix” that Scanner crafted out, nostalgia could be the right worder to describe it. To understand that you should try and picture the present you 10 or 20 years ago, then back again. The vocal cuts make room for the ravey strings, and those melt into perfection alongisde a soothing lead. As a plus, the groove doesn`t stop for a second. And that is good. To top the whole package, Lars Leonhard has another ace up his sleave, called "Pure Trance Mix". It`s available only as a digital bonus, an interesting choice. If at this point you thought the original version couldn`t give any more room for another view, yes you were wrong. Don`t get fooled by the name either, even if the rythm punches a whole in your chest, the heart gets pampered by the details Lars meticulosly has twined at every step.
Vital Weekly (NL)
And perhaps I could write the same thing about Lars Leonhard's new 12". On one side Leonhard remixes his own 'No Comment', besides offering an 'original edit', on the other side we have remixes by Sven Schienhammer, T. Touzimsky and Scanner (all label mates). In his own work Leonhard - see also the review of his '1549' in Vital Weekly 798 - combines dub, dance and ambient music, and as I predicted a return of ambient house - actually for a while now - this fits in perfect with that. Lots of waving synthesizers with delay techniques to create that dub like feel and slow dubby rhythm at the core of it all. Sample-less, this could be great intro pieces for extended Orb tracks, but its not yet entirely dance floor material. The remixes on the other side are more related to the dance floor, owing more to techno than to ambient music. Nice stuff indeed. Weather is still warm, you can sit outside and your feet taps along the 4/4 rhythm. (FdW)
After his conceptual debut album '1549' which evolved around a plane crash, Düsseldorf producer Lars Leonhard provides dub-techno and ambient fans with some slightly lighter supplies: NO COMMENT, his latest 12" EP, includes three of Leonhard's own versions along three dancefloor remixes by his label mates Sven Schienhammer, Thomas Touzimsky and Scanner. "No Comment - Original Edit" is coined by a dense dynamic sound which gets more spacey on "Anywhere". "Before Sunset" perfections the song's chill-out character, while all three remixes finally invite to the dancefloor. (Michael Wenzel)
Lars Leonhard follows up his '1549' album for Bine Music with a Trance-tempered Techno session featuring remixes from Scanner, Quantec and Thoams Touzimsky. The whole EP stems from his marching, late '90s style lazer-grabber 'No Comment (The Pure Trance Original)', which also features in a more reserved Edit form, plus Dubstep-leaning and Sunset-ready beatless mixes. Remixing, Quantec keeps an even Dub Techno keel; Thomas Touzimsky gives a detailed IDM perspective; Scanner's is lost to wide-eyed altered states.
Foxy Digitalis (US)
This is an album conceptually dedicated to the most “heroic” plane crash in recent memory – the US Airways plane that was successfully landed in the Hudson River in 2009, saving all aboard. The juxtaposition is bizarre – “warm, deep” synth pads, minor-key progressions, and modernist ambience, along with infrequent samples of onboard safety announcements. It’s as if Leonhard wants to remind everyone that they’re not safe, while at the same time soothing them as much as possible. It’s a confusing impulse, borne out of dark personal trauma or just conceptual adventure, hard to tell. “Clear Air Turbulence” is the first of many tracks to feature a vintage Kraftwerk-esque pad, hinting that there’s more ironic distance than anything else. It suggests 1549 as an update on Kraftwerk’s classic concept albums: about radioactivity, trans-Europe train travel, the Autobahn, the Tour de France, computers, and the like. As with those pieces, if one sees Leonhard’s song titles and samples as cold factual observations, then the CD’s weird tension between lightness and dark makes the most sense.
Norman Records (DE)
Remember when that plane went down in the Hudson river a few years ago? It was a pretty crazy story, firstly that a little bird could bring down and enormous plane and secondly the pilot somehow managed to land the thing in a stretch of water. The plane basically swam to safety. Anyway the reason I mention all this is that this album is named after that plane. It’s a good angle and one that really makes sense of the music; warm, throbbing electronic melancholy. It reminds me of Nautilus, Metamatics or any of those tuneful electronic outfits I was into about a decade ago. All synthetic, this is music for airports in the truest sense of the phrase with snatches of dialogue sounding like announcements whilst the music has a threatening quality, murk under the surface as if in the opening scenes of a disaster movie before something terrible happens.
A warm ambient album with deep pads and minimal sound effects.
**Supple digital dub music, rich with blooming pads and produced with clinical attention to detail** "Following numerous digital releases during the past, Lars Leonhard's full length debut album "1549" will be released on BineMusic on Nov 7th 2011. Its name derives from US Airways Flight 1549 which was ditched in the Hudson River after a bird strike about three minutes into the flight in January 2009. The overall theme runs like a common thread through the album, with Leonhard mostly working with warm, deep pads and minimal sound effects. And as nature sets the agenda, hammering basses are obviously absent from this release."
Vital Weekly (NL)
After an afternoon and an evening of Main, Zoviet*France and Lustmord, I have time to think a few things over. About ambient music, about live music, and meanwhile I play this CD by a guy I never heard of, Lars Leonhard. Obviously I don't use the same volume at home as they do in concerts, but somehow I play this a bit louder. Maybe I am getting deaf, or maybe I want to repeat last night's concert experience? The ambient music that is part of Leonhard's world is a somewhat different than that of Main, Zoviet*France and Lustmord, although there was a time when Zoviet*France played this kind of music too: ambient house. Lots of synthesizers, clicky, glitchy dance rhythms and field recordings from airports. The title of this release comes from US Airways Flight 1549 which crashed into the Hudson river in 2009. Leonhard studied his history quite closely. This CD could have been as easily released by Silent Records in 1996 at the peak of ambient house, when Silent was one of the best labels in that field with a more experimental edge than many of the more well-known ones. Leonhard's music bounces among the arpeggio's, with the rhythm ticking away nicely, elements from dub thrown in here and there (in the use of delay, rather than with a thumping bass) and throughout a most enjoyable release. Like I said: the next return will that be of ambient house: once we are all fed up with cosmic music and need a bit of more rhythm we will be chilling out again. Bine Music taps in right on time. (FdW)
After drawing attention with his atmospheric yet clubby track "Citylights" on the BineMusic sampler in 2010, Düsseldorf sound tinkerer Lars Leonhard follows it with his debut album on the same Essen-based label. Low-key soundscapes dominate "1549" while the beats stay in the background, giving way to pads and spherical sounds. The album's title is a reminiscence of US Airways' flight 1549 which was ditched after being disabled by striking a flock of geese, as retold by the tracks on the album. A nice album that makes you crave for more releases.
The title of Lars Leonhard's debut album comes from the flight number of a US Airways plane that was forced into an emergency landing in the Hudson River, on account of striking a flock of Canadian geese shortly after take-off (my nation’s second most annoying weapon!). What an odd thing to center an entire LP around. A track dedicated to the event, sure – French electro-pop chap College, for instance, has done the deed. Maybe even a lengthy composition in a prog-rocky fashion could have been attempted, but any more than that seems like excess. Odder still is there's very little on here that implicitly sounds like the incident is a source of inspiration. A couple tracks have Airline Announcement samples, and all the titles tell the story, though in such a vague manner, they wouldn't look out of place in different track lists either (eg. Altitude Error, Long Range Cruise).
Nay, 1549 comes across as a standard dub techno album with elements of downtempo glitch and upbeat psy chill. It's the sort of sound that's caught Ultimae's attention in recent years, which led to ol' Lars featuring on the label's compilations – and why I decided to check into his discography further, 'natch. Mr. Leonhard got his start on BineMusic though, a German label that's released sporadic ambient and experimental material over the last decade. Move D and Scanner are recognizable names I can drop that have found homes there, but I know little else about the label. And by me, I mean what Lord Discogs tells me.
Okay, enough back-history – how's 1549 itself? Yeah, it's a good album, with a strong narrative in spite of not actually exploring a supposed storyline much. That said, some tracks do sound like they were written as though intended for scores, especially so Fly By Wire, which builds with a cinematic flourish benefiting a Nolan flick. It does sell the notion Lars was inspired by a significant event, though the music could work as a score to any scenario where there's rising tension, climax, and all that good literary stuff.
Besides, these tracks work well as standalone pieces of music too. You have gray-screened ambient dub (Decision Height, Long Range Cruise), minimalist ambient-techno glitch (Clear Air Turbulence, Electromagnetic Pulse), groovy house vibes on the tech-dub tip (Altitude Error, Glideslope, Total Pressure), and psy-dub leaning cuts with a brisk pace (True Heading, 564 Miles Per Hour) – have I said ‘dub’ enough yet? It’s all classy, smartly produced, and earwormy enough that you look forward to another play-through, but don’t mind letting it linger for a few weeks either.
Yeah, that’s about my main quibble with 1549: its absolute perfunctory nature as a dub techno album. I wasn’t surprised by much, beyond discovering an intended narrative that didn’t quite translate into actual music; nor am I inclined to dig into Mr. Leonhard’s discography further anytime soon. Still, for a first LP, it’s about as solid an effort in this genre as you’re likely to find.