Pole 1 Import
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Shy Berliner Stefan Betke has concocted a strikingly sui generis sound around the crackle of a broken Pole-Waldorff filter and disruptive digitized static compressed and set atop bobbing bass lines like clumps of powder afloat in a boundless sea of echo. Betke's music is bonded by gorgeous analogue melodies; light, rattling dance beats; and dub-style undercurrents. This last element is the key to Pole, as Betke approximates the buoyant, bouncy feel of classic dub with digital effects very different from the studio trickery associated with dub's Jamaican progenitors. Only vinyl, where the filter static can be indistinguishable from the subtle disruptions wrought by dust and surface scuffs, does justice to Pole's ingenuity. The original joke is somewhat lost on CD, since those crackles seem like less of an aberration than, say, Oval's terminal glitches. But CD 1 is still vital in any format, Pole's digi-dub a singular and magnificent herald of things to come. --Gil Gershman
Top Customer Reviews
Pole's CD1 (or LP1 if you've got the vinyl) is intentionally influenced by Jamaican dub. Yet Pole is unlike any dub, or any music at all, that you've ever heard. Pole creates extremely stark, extremely soothing music built around two important elements. One is the bass, where the dub influence is most apparent. These are beautiful low tones that Lee Perry would be proud of. Two is rhythms based on static (created by his defective filter). There are no drums. Though there are various other musics and sounds that, like dub, come in and out of the mix, it is the combination of the bass and static that give Pole such a unique and relaxing feel.
Though one can classify Pole as minimal, Pole is unlike much minimalist electronic music in that he sets a very enticing, dark mood, and forces it to hold your attention for the entire length of the album. Even though this album can be listened to as background music, subconsciously your mind is aware of Pole, and it affects you. Songs flow into each other, making the 9 tracks feel like one metamorphizing unit. 'Flagen,' the busiest song, is the best example of his static-based rhythms; my personal favorite is the haunting 'Paula.'
Though one could argue that all these songs sound the same, no one could argue that they sound like anyone else. Influenced by dub, Pole merely uses it as a platform, an idea to meld with his own music. While his second release, CD2, has more rhythms akin to traditional dub and therefore may be more accessible, CD1 is world you've never explored. And you should.
The first thing you will notice about this album is the "static." Pole's innovative use of a broken filter produces a noise that keeps each track sharp, with fluttery pops and clicks peppered on top of the dub style rhythms. Then you will hear the underlying dub beats that give a solid foundation to what would otherwise be purely experimental sounds. The album is deeply relaxing because of the bass melodies that center on a calm but lively tempo.
If you want some smart electronic music that can be used equally well for serene background music or deep listening, then Pole will not disappoint.
It's an original approach to create that grey and moody ambience of almost all german techno records. Add to that the proved efficiency of shuffled reggae flavored rythms and bass lines when it comes to letting the mind (and the ears) rest. Best track (and dubbiest) is # 3 (Kirschenessen). Maybe Betke should work out his synth sounds a little bit more to match the originality of the rythmic structures. Anyway, I must say I haven't listened to POLE 2 yet.
This is a great little album to have on in the background, but equally deserves an attentive listen. Like the track 'Do While' on Oval's '94 Diskont' (a current fave CD), these 9 tracks don't waste a moment of their duration. From go to whoa, this is a winner! A must in every 'weird electronica' collection.
Most recent customer reviews
Ok, this is not a cd. This is a frustration. I like this cd...I like it a whole lot, in fact. The problem with this album comes when I don't think enough when listening to Pole. Read morePublished on July 5 2000
Opens with layers of record crackle until a deeply stoned, brain-dead excuse for a bassline creeps in and loops for about five minutes. Read morePublished on March 28 2000 by Andrew Leung
Fantastic, brilliant and experimental. Rewarding listening for anyone. The spirit of this record is so important, and the mixture of quirky experimental sounds with the beautiful... Read morePublished on Jan. 5 2000
A written review will do no justice to the quality and beauty of this album. The second CD, CD 2,is another one that I would highly recommend.Published on May 10 1999