German producer, Steffi, has just released her latest album, World of the Waking State, via Ostgut Ton. The Waveform Transmitter’s Ste Knight takes a listen to an album that heralds a new direction for the artist.
If one had listened to Steffi‘s latest album, World of the Waking State without knowing it was produced by the Berlin-based composer, then it wouldn’t be wholly unreasonable to think it had come from a completely different artist altogether.
The reason for this is simple, the album – a seemingly very introspective work – reflects very little from her previous productions. It represents a whole change of tack in terms of the sounds used to convey the long-player’s message. Steffi has taken things to a much deeper level with WotWS, and she invites us to take the voyage to the nether-regions of her sound with her, as we embark on the journey that the album sets out before us.
Previous outings by the Panorama Bar regular have been completely separate, sonically, to what Steffi puts forward here. Gone are the vocals that have been present in past works, the likes of which include her track produced in collaboration with Dexter & Virginia, 2015’s Treasure Seeking. Gone too are the heavily synthesised melodies that were used in tracks such as 2012’s Schraper.
Instead, Steffi seems to have taken the kind of route one would expect to be navigated by an artist associated with the braindance movement, popularised by imprints such as Warp Records and sister label, Rephlex Records. That isn’t to say the the highly venerated Ostgut Ton are strangers to a more experimental sound, but Steffi has certainly eschewed her previous house and techno sensibilities and gone for something that has its roots more firmly planted in electro‘s soil.
The album itself presents as a remarkable piece of work. The tracks themselves are almost symphonic at times, with a genuine breadth of emotion contained therein. Setting out on our pilgrimage, we are presented first with Different Entities, which features several tropes of the electro sound, from the synthesised robotic chatter that punctuates the mix, to the lilting string pads that make up the tracks underbelly.
This theme continues in tracks such as All the Living Things, which makes use of a bubbling acid line that goes against the grain of what one would consider organic. Perhaps the title of the track is meant as an homage to that which has been bestowed artificial life by its creator…cybernetic chirrups and quavers adding to this notion.
The reference to braindance, or IDM to use alternative nomenclature, is not unjustified. Steffi uses this opportunity to explore more complex rhythmical structures that one might find nestled away on an obscure SKAM record.
Forgoing her more standard 4/4 percussive timing, she chooses instead to syncopate her drum programming to provide something more circuitous and labyrinthine. One only has to take Schools of Thought and title track, World of the Waking State, into consideration for this to be blindingly obvious.
The Waveform Transmitter urges you to take time out and become familiar with Steffi‘s album. It is an incredibly rewarding experience and the album as a whole offers a broad range of emotions, as mentioned earlier. These are given rise by the constantly shifting programming present throughout the compositions. We guarantee, you will not be disappointed.