Laubner's latest record, The Journey, unfurls itself over four sides of vinyl. Its 88 minutes of mostly bleak and distant noises are best listened to in one sitting, preferably in the dark or in the groggy moments directly after waking up. Melody or rhythm are dispensed with in favour of small distinctions of colour and shade. It is, to use a much-maligned phrase, mood music.
The Journey feels like a distillation of Laubner's ambient work to date, not least because it's largely made up of resurrected older pieces that have been remastered and mixed together. That the mood is so unshakeable is testament to Laubner's long-term aesthetic focus. Track titles like "Soporific Drugs" and "Broken Cello" are almost ironically accurate in the flatness of their description, resisting any sort of nostalgic or romantic evocation in the same way as the music itself. That said, the mood does lift as the latter half of the record dawns, with "Calm Light" and "Tribute To The Beauty" both gleaming a little brighter than the vastness around them.
The first time I listened to The Journey in full, I was on a bus on a motorway at night. This feels like the sort of environment in which a record like this will blossom and make the most sense: sitting down, headphones on, the lights of cars moving past and disappearing into the darkness, nothing to do but listen and let your thoughts drift where they will. With all other stimulants suppressed, introspection comes naturally. Maybe epiphany will follow. Way back when he made Discreet Music, Brian Eno described ambient music as being "able to accommodate many levels of listening attention without enforcing one in particular." Almost 40 years later, The Journey continues this tradition with a knowing hand.