I’ve been a huge fan of Oliver Lieb for at least half of my life now, and it’s incredible to see him not only still producing music, but still managing to balance pushing the boundaries with developing music that’s instantly recognizable as his handiwork. Proton’s first release of 2014 sees Oliver Lieb bringing his sound to the label for the first time with a doubleheader, ‘Dark Energy’ and ‘Caldera’.
The title track starts appropriate bass-heavy, gaining steam as the percussion gradually all clicks into place. Surging synths soon start to rise, before a high-pitched stuttering synth cuts through your mind like a hot knife through butter. The breakdown works some sinister growls around the the synth line, while the drop introduces a crisp hand-clap for the first time to great effect. It’s not exactly Oliver Lieb’s strongest work, and in particular the main melody feels a bit lacking, but there’s no denying the incredible attention to detail displayed by the production work, or the fantastic energy levels the track generates.
‘Caldera’ is much better in my opinion, kicking off with bass pulses that are soon filled out by a chugging bassline. One minute in we start one of those trademark Oliver Lieb ascents, with pads beginning to swell, techy, scratchy hi-hats pulling the track along, and a rather distinctive vocal sample upping the excitement levels. After the breakdown, a rippling, robotic melody is introduced, before the other elements of the track begin to swirl around it. I don’t think this is vintage Lieb either, to be honest, but that doesn’t mean it’s not miles ahead of most of what’s out there.
Proton and Oliver Lieb sounds like a match made in heaven, and though I don’t think Lieb’s best work is on display here, the EP certainly doesn’t disappoint either, with ‘Caldera’ in particular providing a real treat. 8/10