STL, At Disconnected Moments

Photo by Herbert Franke & Andreas Hübner

[Smallville Records]

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At Disconnected Moments is nowhere near STL’s debut album, but it’s his first for a label other than his own Something Records — which functions more as a studio journal than a label proper — meaning this is one of the more eventful releases in Stephan Laubner’s career. And while there have been plenty of highlights on Something (“Vintage Hunter,” “Mindbender,” and a smattering of loops come immediately to mind), it seems to me that he’s usually saved his strongest material for Hamburg’s Smallville. Given “Silent State,” that might seem rather obvious, but At Disconnected Moments all but confirms it. Granted, this somewhat depends on your preferred STL style. The blunted kicks, razor-sharp hats, and rickety synth lines are completely absent from At Disconnected Moments in favor of the kind of dubby house he usually sends two hours north up from Harz to Hamburg. For those looking to dive deep into the kind of airy, long-form grooves Laubner does so well, At Disconnected Moments is a gold mine.

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Ignoring the CD-only tracks (“Silent State” and “Neurotransmitting Clouds on the Secret Freeway,” both of which were released four years ago), At Disconnected Moments perhaps seems, at first, like a double-pack mostly for DJs. “Scuba’s Motion Dub” kicks things off on the floor-focused tip with thumping kicks and plenty of delay; and while nothing really changes over its 11-minute runtime, it’s a case-study in what makes STL such a remarkable producer. There’s plenty of dubby, elongated techno/house around, but there’s something about “Scuba’s Motion Dub” (and really the whole album) that makes it impossible to turn off, and makes every track’s final breaths a bummer. “One Day” is more laid back, while “Space Cats” switches up the palette ever so slightly with space-age synths and grubby percussion.

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Which brings us to “Amelie’s Dub”: a remarkably potent slice of dub-house bliss. Its carefully modulating and subtle melodies reach out from a swelling morass of kicks and low-end, hypnotizing effortlessly over its impossibly brief 10 minutes. “Ghostly Ambit” is a creepy, late-late-night slow-build, and nestled near the end are the short beatless cuts “Good Wine” and “Over and Out.” Yet while it’s essential for DJs, the vinyl comes away feeling slight. The extra ~24 minutes of music that the CD version supplies brings At Disconnected Moments firmly up to classic status. Yes, it’s long, but especially on the CD version it seems like that’s the whole point. This is an album to lose time to; an album that you put on to disconnect with everything around you. It’s a remarkably strong suite of tracks whose longevity is essentially already proven. I’ve owned and played “Neurotransmitting” and “Silent State” rather consistently since they were released, and I never tire of hearing them. I suspect all of At Disconnected Moments will end up that way, too.

drama70  on March 3, 2014 at 3:50 PM

Great review! If you love this, you will probably also like his Dub Techno Explorations.


Little White Earbuds February Charts 2014 – Little White Earbuds  on February 28, 2014 at 9:24 AM

[…] Miller 01. Tin Man & Donato Dozzy, “Test 07” [Absurd Recordings] 02. STL, “Amelie’s Dub” [Smallville] 03. Tobias., “Instant” [Ostgut Ton] 04. Kassem Mosse, “Workshop 19 A2” […]

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