Review: LSN – Oblivion LP [UALP005]

The past year has been LSN‘s most prolific in terms of releases; from digital singles with Uprise Audio as well as featuring on Truth’s “Deep, Dark and Dangerous” collaboration project, and not forgetting the guest appearances on core member Feonix’s debut long player, where 3 additional members contributed to its production credits. Their highly anticipated 13 track album aptly titled “Oblivion” has been long in the making, which shouldn’t surprise given the enormity of such a project especially taking the number of people involved into the equation. With the album due to drop in a matter of days, the wait is finally over and what a release it is. Following the success of Feonix’s LP, it was evident that “Oblivion” was going to be a solid effort and another gem for the Uprise catalog, and yet, my expectations have been surpassed. LSN, a 6 member collective from Wales consisting of 23KID, Feonix, Fialko, Na-Kika, Noztaw and Simetra, have created a next-level genre overlapping “dubstep” experience. The material travels between the speedy framework of drum and bass down to dubstep’s classical 140 template, bringing diversity in the tempo and opening room for creativity.

Rather than overwhelming you with various adjective vocabulary, with which even I had difficulty imagining to conjure up, I’ll attempt with another kind of description. Imagine the album as a “mammoth” that ploughs into the rave cave from Matrix Reloaded and pounds the sweat and dust from the walls. Absolutely absurd in definition, but you catch my drift. LSN don’t hold back on the sub bass or hesitate to punctuate brutality into the sound design. Personal highlights on the album include the melodic title track “Oblivion”, “Stillness” with its progressive dynamic flow, the meditative “Vibration”, “HMS Death” (an enormous battleship from a former life), the fundamental and Youngsta favourite “Fear & Love”, which walks in the footsteps of Kryptic Mind’s “Badman VIP”, and last but not least “Now”. Even though “Now” was released on the album sampler, it would be criminal not to include it here as it’s an essential and absolute anthem. Where “Stillness” builds slowly with momentum, “Now” goes for the kill from the first beat. Collective inputs shine throughout, from Na-Kika’s manipulated prayer samples on “Earthtone”, to Noztaw’s aggressive d&b influences on “SMBU” and “Look Deeper”, to 23KID’s ambient touches on “Shelter”, “Cwsg” and the beautifully underrated bonus track “Conscious Choice”.

There is some criticism however, part of which is down to the limited scope of diversity across the album, and part in dissecting the tricker notion of whether there’s an overkill on vocal appearances. LSN have become known for their more vocal led material ever since Simetra joined the crew around late 2013. On “Oblivion”, her sublime vocals are a refreshing take on a genre that is mostly instrumental, and while they don’t hinder the album’s overall development, 8 / 13 vocal led tracks does tilt the balance unfavourably. With regards to limited scope, tracks like “Stillness” and “Smack My Birch Up” display moments of sheer engineering brilliance, but feel too short too few. That being said, I’m confident that LSN will grow musically and blow us away on their next album, vaporising the “mammoth” created here in the process. My only last quibble is in fact label related and a minor issue when looking at the grand scheme of things. Unlike Feonix’s album, where Uprise Audio decided to press an album sampler, vinyl enthusiasts will be disappointed to hear that this time round “Oblivion” is unfortunately digital only. Seven did propose an alternative, but it was met with hostility and eventually scrapped. Overall, LSN’s debut album is an extraordinary, forward thinking, sub bass adventure, which engages, excites and certainly shows signs of promise for future material from its individual members and the crew as a whole.

Oblivion is released April 25th and available from Juno Download.

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