STL, Silent State

[Smallville Records]

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As the owner and sole driving force behind the label Something, the enigmatic Stephan Laubner manages to freely indulge his prolific nature without sacrificing quality. In 2008 alone he notched up six well rated releases, three of which could be considered albums, only one arriving on another label (“Lost In Brown Eyes” for his friends at Perlon), and he’s already released a new 2×12″ in 2009. Laubner’s efforts also seem immune to easy characterizations. They stretch from massaged field-recordings to wistful deep house, caustic techno to more chipper tech-house treats, and that’s ignoring the many loops etched into most STL releases. What’s surprising, then, about STL’s debut for Smallville Records is not that it turns the page in the self reliant producer’s catalog, but rather its potential to loom large over what came before it.

Silent State finds Laubner introducing dub techno’s vast palette of reverbs and delay to his repertoire and varies greatly from track to track. The most fascinating is the title cut, a sub-aquatic meander whose elegant craftsmanship unfolds across 12 minutes without feeling even a second too long. Ambling forward as an enthusiastic guide, the tuneful bass line steers listeners towards several synth lines mingling at different depths, ripples following wherever they go. Each melody flows at its own pace yet feels interconnected to its companions, even the sharpest, most fleeting progression and sustained snare hits. Laubner’s command of synthesizers is so great he’s captured an entire eco-system in flux in the form of a functional techno track. To call it breath-taking is almost not enough.

You’d be forgiven if it takes a few spins before feeling ready to flip the record, but side B is equally rewarding. “Six In A Row” is a substantially grittier affair that channels its energy into the grumbling central riff. Squirming along a bed of tape hiss and street noise, reverb magnifies its jagged edges until they gnash together, their resonance creating eye-opening new pitches. And while “Six In A Row” could easily find its way into many techno sets, it’s not too far a stretch to include the rarefied lo-fi aesthetics of black metal among its extended family. While more conventional than its siblings, “From A Distance” is impressive in its own right. As the insouciant yin to “Six In A Row”‘s overcast yang, the tune’s placid underpinnings are as celebrated as the dubbed out washes bouncing gamely off the walls. Hushed Rhodes tip-toes between two chords, holding together the unpredictable reverberations like a serene glue. Its lucid beauty rivals some Maurizio tracks, so don’t be surprised when “From A Distance,” like the rest of the EP, is stuck in DJs’ rotations. If STL hasn’t yet been canonized on the strength of his bountiful back catalog, Silent State seems poised to be his ticket to the front of the line.

jake  on April 28, 2009 at 12:30 AM

really nice review, steve! lovelovelove stl & will definitely be picking this up :)

Peder  on April 28, 2009 at 3:27 AM

an instant and eternal classic…!

chrisdisco  on April 28, 2009 at 6:46 AM

wow. that does sound seriously good. has this been released yet?

littlewhiteearbuds  on April 28, 2009 at 8:06 AM

Julius from Smallville said it would be out this week.

chris  on April 28, 2009 at 8:13 AM

another killer from smallville!
lovely 12″, great review, will be picking this one up for sure.

Will Lynch  on April 28, 2009 at 8:15 AM

“From a distance” is my jump off. And that painting is PERFECT for this release…

harpomarx42  on April 28, 2009 at 9:04 AM

This track is powerful in it’s complex simplicity. Top track of the year so far, IMO.

colin s  on April 28, 2009 at 10:21 AM

Nice review. Silent State is groovy stuff!

sven  on April 28, 2009 at 3:10 PM

can’t wait for the release, really good this one

Joe H  on April 28, 2009 at 4:38 PM

Incredible, I had the pleasure of hearing it out at the weekend on Funktion One which does it 100% more justice than listening through computer speakers. Laubner also has another nice new one on the Styrax Leaves – From Love sampler. I can’t get enough of STL even if most is what I’d class as home listening rather than for the club. This is most definitely for the club. Efdemin quoted it to be one of his favourite releases in the last ten years on the W&S feedback section. Big statement to say the least.

Marc  on April 28, 2009 at 6:17 PM

Simply amazing. STL has got to be my favorite producers out there at the moment and I can’t wait to snap this one up as well. Great review as well.

Per  on April 29, 2009 at 1:35 PM

absolutely incredible and amazingly emotive

Rory  on April 30, 2009 at 7:53 PM

An absolute trip, looking forward to hearing this out :)

Will C.  on May 1, 2009 at 3:55 PM

Gorgeous track. This is what dub-influenced techno should sound like!

David Day  on May 1, 2009 at 5:26 PM

must. buy. now.

Todd S  on May 2, 2009 at 4:57 PM


Greg Swindle  on May 4, 2009 at 1:23 PM

This might be my favorite STL title to date, and I buy all his releases. Essential!

julius  on May 7, 2009 at 7:33 AM

happy you all like the stl like we do.. absolutely in love, i am so happy. and it’s out in your record store now. :-)

peter  on May 12, 2009 at 1:59 AM

very nice! a delicate balance indeed. Thanks for the image credit, I appreciate it.

raymundo mendoza  on June 4, 2009 at 2:29 PM

im not gonna comment on the music, it speaks for itself,

but i gotta really give props to littlewhiteearbuds, you’ve really taken electronic music reviews to a whole new level. Ive yet to see the cut and paste cliche combos you usually see with this music.

Big thanks, it really is refreshing.

littlewhiteearbuds  on June 5, 2009 at 9:33 AM

Thanks Raymundo, we really appreciate the kind words!


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