Lunatik Sound System: The Journey

The word epic is thrown around pretty casually, but it legitimately applies to The Journey, Stephan Laubner's latest Lunatik Sound System opus. Issued on his own Something label and mere months after his STL collection At Disconnected Moments, The Journey spreads eighty-eight industrial-ambient minutes across four twelve-inch vinyl sides. In Laubner's own words, “The concept is, like always on my Lunatik Sound System albums, to take the listener on a trip and guide them through relaxing and psychedelic sounds. I always try to tell a story with my LSS albums, [and] The Journey is something that I've wanted to do for a while now.”

The style of the ten tracks won't be unfamiliar to devotees of the industrial-ambient genre. In essence, a Lunatik Sound System piece situates the listener within a smoldering, grime-coated realm filled with creeping sounds and diseased transmissions. Covered in an omnipresent blanket of soot, the music groans relentlessly—potent stuff to be sure, so much so that a kind of woozy disorientation begins to set in as one absorbs the nightmarish sheet-metal drone “Don't Listen to Your Eyes.” For the record, it's not an unrelentingly harrowing listen, and during its second half, specifically the four tracks with which the recording closes, “Calm Light,” “A Moment of Sincere Tears,” “The Beauty in the Deep,” and “Make Yourself at Home,” the material hews to a relatively peaceful mode of presentation. No details have been provided concerning instrumentation, though the title of “Broken Cello” perhaps offers some hint as to what source generated the music's cryptic slow-burn, and the tinkle of a broken piano also can be glimpsed amidst the wreckage of “Afaik.”

Laubner's refined the style over many years—in fact, the info at Discogs suggests that The Journey is his nineteenth Lunatik Sound System release since the first emerged in 2003, with all of them having appeared on Something as CD-R releases except for 2010's The Heavy Minded Orchestra, which, like The Journey, was issued in a double-vinyl format. Calling Laubner prolific, by the way, is an understatement: the number of STL releases he's issued totals about two times the number he's released as Lunatik Sound System. As splendid as it must be to experience The Journey in its vinyl presentation (a download was provided for the review), the better format is arguably CD, simply because CD tracks would be able to flow into one another without interruption in accordance with how Laubner designed them. Regardless of presentation format, The Journey is by its very nature immersive stuff, and becomes even more so when seven of the ten tracks push past the nine-minute mark.

April 2014