World Of The Waking State's percussion is nimble and precise. The 4/4 pulse central to Steffi hits like "Yours" and "Sadness" is gone, replaced by syncopated hi-hats and kick drums that move around the grid. These restless beats, which never stay the same for long, aren't drawn from familiar sources—909s, 808s, 707s—but from Steffi's cache of drum synthesisers, which adds to the album's alien sound. Basslines splutter underneath broken halftime rhythms, like the one on "Schools Of Thought," the closest World Of The Waking State gets to classic electro. "The Meaning Of Memory" is the album at its most melodic, not much more than zapping percussion, bleeps and few synth notes. The album is full of these ambiguous but powerful moments, where the mood, whether melancholic, hopeful or something else, belongs to the listener.
These tracks bring to mind another crucial era: the early days of Ostgut Ton. Between 2006 and 2008, the then-fledging label put out similarly heady records from Marcel Dettmann and Ben Klock (Dawning / Dead Man Watches The Clock, Scenario) and Shed (Shedding The Past) that propelled an exciting sound and scene. Like those records, World Of The Waking State's power lies in its restraint, its melodies made all the more powerful by their simplicity. It's deceptively complex, too, with interwoven synth and bassline patterns that shift every few bars. It may not have the broad appeal of past Steffi albums, but that was never the point. It's modern-day braindance for listeners willing to find meaning from within.