Sunday Tribune 8th Feb'98 - Colm O'Callaghan
...Elsewhere two older songs have almost exclusively occupied the floor space at the Monkstown Palais over the last three weeks… The exquisite Who's fooling Who first appeared on Paul Tiernan's debut solo album three years ago but has also surfaced on L's gorgeous Fire in a dream cage album (Hue records) where, with Billy Farrell's piano, its taken to endearing heights. The album might well have escaped your attention when it was released before Christmas. But on the back of one song alone, and one dreamy delivery, its very positively worth at least 40 minutes of your time.
An L of a great talent - The Star, Tues. November 18th 1997.
Fire in a dream cage is the latest album from Irish artist 'L' - and the result is a rare experimental fusion of beautiful lyrics and haunting melody. Featuring 13 tracks written by Stano and Paul Tiernan, the vocals come courtesy of 'L' and have influences from sources as diverse as Judy Garland, Frank Sinatra, Henry Rollins and Joni Mitchell. Debut Fire in a dream cage also features the same team that worked on 'L's debut album, "Words mean nothing, life's just wild". Among the musicians who feature on the album are Richie Buckley from the Van Morrison band and Gary Sullivan of Sic.
New faces to watch for in '98 - Lucy Taylor (U Magazine Dec. 97).
To say that Dublin-born singer is a perfectionist is an understatement. She has just spent over two years in the studio recording her new album, Fire in a dream cage.
Sweet, graceful, seductive, haunting and enigmatic are all words which have been used to describe 'L's voice. And they all apply. When her voice is coupled with he beautiful lyrics ad melodies of songwriters Stano and Paul Tiernan the result is a deep, challenging and complex album with layers and layers of sounds and instruments.
"We made the album so that the more you listen to it, the more you get out of it," says 'L' of Fire in a dream cage. And she's right - this album doesn't just grow on you, it gets inside your head.
Many of the tracks have an orchestral, film score sound which gives them a big, broad feel. A track such as 'When the day is over' is dense, moody a haunting and magical song while 'Who's fooling who' is a touching ballad and 'Underdream' is all raw guitars, a powerful, aggressive song about seduction.
"Songs have a life of their own; they can go anywhere and take any direction," she says. " We built up the songs in the studio. It's a process which takes longer than average and you have no idea when you go in how it's going to turn out - but it's a very free way to work."
'L' and Stano (who produced the album) handpicked musicians for particular tracks. "We asked them to come in and just react to the music," she says. The musicians including sax player Richie Buckley, Gary Sullivan and Colm O'Ciosoig from My Bloody Valentine came into the studio, put on headphones and played along - without having heard the music before. 'L' and Stano want to capture their natural response to the music.
'L' (whose real name is Denise Gabrielle) did a communications course in film, video and sound at the college of Commerce in Rathmines. She began her career in music as a sound engineer working mostly on film sound. 'L' had never considered singing in public or taking it up professionally until one day while working with Stano, he asked her to come out from behind the mixing desk and sing. After that Stano started to write songs for her.
"I have no ambition to write songs," says 'L', although she was heavily involved in the arrangement of words and melodies on Fire in a dream cage and on her debut album, "Words mean nothing life's just wild." "I like Stano's words because they are visual and cinematic," she says. And her film sound background adds a cinematic quality to her interpretation of the songs.
One thing 'L' likes to be is in control and get the sound just right. Hue Records (a small independent record label) allow her to do just that. Hue are selling the album on CD for a very reasonable £9.99 (cassette £6.99). 'L' believes that the big record companies charge too much for CD's and that you can still cover costs and make a profit by charging less. "People are more likely to take a chance if a CD is about a tenner," she says.
And if you'd like to sample the songs before buying the album, you can log on to the 'L' website. There you'll find the whole album in RealAudio, plus video clips, pics and biogs. The whole idea behind the website is to make the music accessible and to give fans a chance to tell 'L' what they think. You can log on to the 'L' site on www.dojo.ie/hue/
Whether we'll get a chance to see 'L' and her long list of musicians live is questionable. "We are planning to do some gigs in the New Year," she says. "But the music is very complex so we need a lot of musicians to do it live. It might be better to-do a big tour than just a few gigs."
After such a long spell in the studio you'd think 'L' would be dying for a change of scenery, but no. "the studio is my favourite place to be. It's great fun working with different musicians, " she says. And believe it or not she already has enough material for the next album.
One to check out - Evening Echo Thurs. Dec. 4th '97
With a bit of luck it'll be an L of a year for 'L'.
She's just released an album, Fire in a dream cage, which is getting great reviews.
"We have our own website for some time now and that has worked out very well," says 'L' who hails from Dublin's East Wall. "We've had a lot of reaction from Europe through the Internet and judging by that the music will go down well there".
'L' (real name Denise Gabrielle) has a background which suits a musician. She is a fully trained sound engineer. "Having that background has helped. You know exactly what you can get out of the studio," she explains. "We put in a lot of different effects that you may not notice in the first listen but you become aware the more you listen to the album. I think every listen is a little different."
At the moment 'L's music remains a mystery to most people but through the website and through sales, this could change. It could also change through live performances, something 'L' has not yet done.
"We will be doing live gigs," she says.
Although they are planning live shows, that is still some way down the road, so it could be a while before we hear 'L' in Cork. That's unless you watch television, of course. She is featuring on No Disco on Network 2 tonight.
Homefront - Hotpress Nov. '97
'Fire in a dream cage,' the thumping new album from groundbreaking atmospheric songstress 'L' has just been released. A single, featuring two cuts from the album, 'Bird' and 'When the day is over' was simultaneously released. For a pre- purchase preview check out 'L's website at www.dojo.ie/hue/ where you'll find a wealth of information, including a clip from her new video...
Fire in a dream cage (Hue) - Leagues (Dublin Event Guide Dec 3rd-16th 1997)
'Fire in a dream cage' is a fascinating amalgamation of textures and beats and the avant garde touch of legendary Irish producer/songwriter Stano. 'L' is the voice. She completes the equations with the final layer of ethereal emotion. Her voice and ability to compliment mature well-produced electronica is equal to that of Andrea Parker, Beth Orton or any number of internationally established vocalists working with songs within the realms of the chemical generation.
The majority of 'Fire in a dream cage' encompasses dark, reflective moods frequently flavoured with lush beats, distant trip-hop, layered guitar distortion and varied bleeps and pulses of Stano's knob-twiddling wizardry. An experimentalist in the truest form (the last thing we heard from him was his studio collaboration with The Wormholes on their outrageously fucked up mini-album from earlier this year), Stano has tapped into the disparate forces of a liberal range of artists including former My Bloody Valentine man Colm O'Ciosoig, acclaimed jazz saxophonist Richie Buckley and songwriter Paul Tiernan. Considering much of the Stano related material to emerge throughout the years, Fire in a dream cage is a surprisingly accessible and enjoyably sultry affair much to the credit of 'L's conducive tones.
Three Best Bets for '98 - Tony Clayton Lea - U Magazine Dec. '98
Beguiling single-letter band fronted by Dublin singer 'L' (short for Gabrielle). Wilfully brave and experimental in a poptastic way. If this lot played gigs, people might have even better things to say about them.
Heaven and 'L' - Karine Guerin - The BIG ISSUES Jan 8th '98.
'L's new album Fire in a Dream Cage has been conceived in Dublin, by Dublin artists, although not only for Dublin Audiences. Karine Guerin discusses the album's texture and unusual sounds with the artist.
It's amazing when you talk with someone a passionate as 'L' - music is life to this singer from Dublin's East Wall. It comes as no surprise to find that her father was a fine tenor and that her mother also sang.
After starting her musical career as a sound engineer, she finally moved on releasing her debut album, "Words mean nothing life's just wild" followed two years later by 'Fire in a Dream Cage.' She confesses, "if I had a choice I'd probably stay in the studio forever and just never come out and see the day light."
The whole musical team hasn't seen much day light for the last two years either - it took that long to get the album together. She explains, "I think we had to spend that amount of time to make it because if we hadn't it wouldn't sound the way it does - it's something I'm proud of, and I think it was worth all the effort and all the blood pressure."
The album starts with and independent instrumental intro, indicating that you are about to enter a world of ballads and dreams. At first the album appears moody and very relaxing, but the more you listen to it, you discover the presence of different, intriguing sounds and touches.
Working with Stano and Paul Tiernan brought, as 'L' recognises, a different aspect the album. "They don't write story songs, but very visual lyrics which allow people to have a personal interpretation with each song. "The melodies are also influenced by many different musical styles, including jazz ('Songs in the Wind'), rock ('Underdream') and trip-hop. A result of which is that the album is very difficult to categorise, which as she tells us was her intention. "We are not trying to fit in any category, we're making music we are interested in."
The next step will be a tour, which means a different approach to her music. She reassures, saying, "we have designed the album so that we can perform it live with a whole group of musicians." It sure will be different with a completely fresh backing band. However nothing can go wrong with such a passionate and professional person as 'L'.
A new sound is on the way, take some time to listen, you will be pleasantly surprised!
Fire in a dream Cage by - 'L' is out now on Hue Records.
Magic 'L' - Colin Kerr - (Foinse November 2nd 1997)
It is true to say that there are bands like Massive Attack and Portishead selling millions of records but even still there is not much interest in music mixing here.
Irish artists are following bands like Oasis or other rock guitar bands which means a real redemption in 'Fire in a Dream Cage' by 'L'.
'L' is a very powerful singer whose back-ground is in sound engineering specialising in film and she is in the company of Irelands equal to Brian Eno, the man who calls himself Stano as well as being accompanied by Paul Tiernan on her new album.
It is with a piece of entrancing instrumental music that the album opens and you will be spellbound for an hour while 'L' is singing, Stano wooing and enticing music from the guitar as well as other wonderful work to be heard from a lot of other musicians.
This is the type of album best listened to at night with the lights dimmed. There is a real flavour of Autumn to the soft music of 'Fire in a Dream Cage' and while it is a small bit overwhelming in places the album is full of wonder.
Cock your ears at any rate to 'The Darkness,' 'When the day is over,' and 'Songs in the Wind,' where Kevin Murphy is on cello and 'Five ghost Flowers,' with Richie Buckley on sax.
Gerry Kavanagh is choice on bass as are Gary Sullivan and Mark Grist on drums and you should listen to Tony Perrey on the keyboards and the group of four on guitar Gerry Foy, Donald Teskey, Frank Kearns and Paul Tiernan.
Hue records are also due full marks for keeping the price of the album as low as £9.99 for the CD and £6.99 for the cassette.
text of this article in Irish
Sound & Vision - 'L': "Fire in a dream cage" - Kevin Courtney - Irish Times Dec. 12th '97
On her second album, the young Irishwoman with the one-letter name moves gracefully through many styles, from jazz to trip-hop to avant-garde, maintaining a strong soothing presence throughout.
Produced by arch-experimentalist Stano, and featuring a diverse crew of musicians - Peter Roycroft on piano, Richie Buckley on sax, and Colm O'Ciosoig from My Bloody Valentine on drums.
Fire in a dream cage takes you into a world of ethereal substance. 'L' shapes many different visions with songs such as The Darkness, 500 Moods and Songs in the Wind. In lesser hands the whole thing could float away in a New Age breeze, but 'L' (real name Denise) and Stano seem to have a very firm grasp of their craft.
ART POP FROM L - Extracts Article from Sunday Tribune of 19 AUGUST '93. By Tony Clayton-Lea
IT'S unusual for a project such as L to be taken as seriously as it is. For starters, there's the most user-unfriendly title of the 'band'. Normally, a single letter group name denotes either a lack of imagination or a surfeit of pretension. In this case, L is the shorthand for Gabrielle, a name on the birth certificate of L's lead vocalist, Denise, whose background is rooted in studio engineering, and who is very much a talker, not a songwriter.
L's recently released debut, Words Mean Nothing Lifes Just Wild (Hue), is an album that might not find its way onto the walkmans of Lemonheads' fans. But then again, why not? According to both Denise and Stano, the album would fail if it were to appeal to just a small section of the record-listening public.
Denise came into music by simply "singing to get my happy hormones going" and by performing with friends and classical musicians Peter Roycroft - brother of Maurice, musical confidante of Gavin Friday's - and Michael Smith.
The material on Words Mean nothing Lifes Just Wild is irrespective of structure or type, high quality mood music. If it's true that the album's songs - written mostly by Paul Tiernan, Stano, Michael Smith, and Donald Teskey--takes time to mean something, it's also true that repeated listenings give rise to a seductive, insinuous groove that permeates every song. It ain't pop music as we know it, Jim, but the textural elements of it means that the songs will last longer and reverberate louder than your average uniform pop tune. If you want to and if you're really that way disposed, you can call it art-music, or art-pop, or avant-pop, but you'd be better off not calling it anything and just listening to it.
'This is not specific category music. It's just music for people, and they seem to warm to the feeling behind it ,when you hear it initially, it sounds a bit strange but it grows on you. That was the idea of doing this kind of album--one that you could listen to all the way through and that made sense, and that worked. I think we succeeded. " I think she's right.
IRISH TIMES BY Dave Fanning
This is a good, unspectacular, solid, pleasant album. When I say 'unspectacular' I mean it as praise : this collection strives for a certain mood and it locks immediately into that mood with the opening brace, Paul Tiernans 'Baby's Shoes' and the Stan/Donald Testy number 'Raging Sea'. The latters 'My wrists for you' And 'Wildlife and Flowers' shift the listener into the middle lane and the almost sloppy 'The Wire' and the cool Funk plod of 'Underground' round out this sturdy 12-song collection perfectly.
EVENING ECHO of Sept 3 '93 by David O'Connell
The album title is suitably mysterious and the singer could never be accused of commercial exploitation, but inspite of herself the debut release from the woman simply called L is one 'ell of a good one.
'Words mean nothing lifes just wild' is a title taken from a song written by her long time friend and fellow musician Stano, which stuck in L's mind over the years.
It sums up the mix on this debut excellent offering: stories that relate to real life experiences expressed in haunting vocals and a moody musical backdrop that speaks volumes for the individual studio expertise of the main individuals behind the album.
L is the singer, but it is also the band so to speak. Gabrielle was shortened to L many years ago and it stuck. Now it is suitably enigmatic for her first album and anonymous too.
Some reviewers have compared her style to Enya's but that is merely because they both possess haunting vocal styles given a platform in front of a primarily pure sound - But she is equally at home with Joni Mitchell, Tracy Chapman or John Prine for that matter - a well crafted song and a strong voice are the most important ingredients.
She possesses both in abundance on her debut album, and while it may be a slow burner 'Words mean nothing' has an appeal that grows and grows with every listen.
EVENING PRESS of August 30 '93 by Dermot Hayes
Calling so called avant garde artiste 'L' an 'Enya-with-lyrics' seems a particularly cruel jibe. Certainly the keyboard sound on certain tracks of L's debut 'Words mean nothing lifes just wild' album recall the multi-layered style of the Donegal musician but there the comparison ends.
The Stano produced album is far from avant garde and recalls Joni Mitchell in parts. L's singing is exemplary - clear and evocative - and Stanos production is both sympatetic and skillful.
DUBLIN EVENT GUIDE of October 19 '93 by Chris Bellew
What a strange name for a singer to have, even one as talented as this. Then again its not as unusual as @ but then again who cares 'words mean nothing lifes just wild' is an interesting affair, soft and mellow yet haunting at the same time. A clear golden voice stands out above the gentle ebbing tinkling piano line on a song like 'Nighttime', eerie feelings exude from 'Black Stone' and a celebration of all things natural can be found in 'Showers in Newgrange'. Songs like 'Raging Sea', Miss the World' and 'Underground' only go to ensure that this album is a great one to relax to and sink deep into.