Shrouded by this Internet age of self-promotion, remarkably little is known about Stephan T. Laubner – neither does he hanker after the exposure.
He is based in the Harz mountains of central Germany; his abbreviated STL moniker is virtually un-googlable; he rarely speaks with the press and has no social media presence; his label, Something, is as imprecise as it gets; most of STL’s material is vinyl-only, a selection of CD releases available by mail-order from his website and even fewer digital downloads listed on online music stores.
Yet, regardless of his outlier persona, he has produced some of the finest loops in recent electronic music history and has earned a somewhat cult status in House and Techno. Experimental in his approach but rooted in classic Detroit and Chicago functions, STL’s works are much more subtle than just another race on the trails of radicalism.
'At Disconnected Moments' is released by Smallville Records, a Hamburg-based label established by Just von Ahlefeld and Julius Steinhoff (a/k/a production duo, Smallpeople), and Peter Kersten (a/k/a Lawrence).
Launched in 2005 as a neighbourhood record store, Smallville Records is steadily becoming one of House music’s most discerning purveyors, having released the deeper likes of Christopher Rau, Dave ‘Move D’ Moufang, Moomin and Benjamin Brunn. At Disconnected Moments marks STL’s first LP to have been released outside his own Something Records.
Working with “almost 100% hardware”, STL’s analogue sound has avoided being surgically sculpted or ‘abletonnised’; rather, it is created by a inimitable collision of living, breathing, dirty, organic grooves. Even his heavily dubbed out tracks beam with colour and brilliance. In Amelie’s Dub, the galactic bass-line plods steadily alongside slinky syncopated rattles as the track is caramelized by wispy daydream-like tones.
Another standout is the acclaimed Silent State, which has quite possibly reached earworm status. It had been part of an earlier Smallville EP release back in 2009 – not that this makes it any less exceptional. There is a rigour inherent in any repetitive music as echoes shiver and shimmer, skimming the surface of a cruising melodic beat clinging to metronomic deep-etched grooves.
The album then detours onto unmapped terrain plunging listeners into heavy-lidded head-nodding. Ghostly Ambit turns up the grime with a slurry of rhythms wrung from spongy grooves that unfurl in four dimensions.
'At Disconnected Moments' is an assured collection showing STL’s affinity to the deeper, dubbier and dustier trenches of House and Techno. Far from being a one-trick pony, STL’s singular aesthetic is spun from finely-tuned transmissions from his internal universe. This album is evidence of his persisting virtuosity, and the rare mix of discretion and authenticity he bestows to everything he touches.