Release Date: Sep 18, 2015
Record label: Pole
Genre(s): Electronic, Pop/Rock, Club/Dance
Basic Channel may have invented dub techno, but during his late '90s run of numerical albums, Pole (AKA Stefan Betke) was also pivotal in forging the gut-quaking sound of contemporary techno. His tracks were slathered in static, pops and hiss under which pulsed muggy low-end that seemed to strip dub reggae down to pure reverberation. There were no basslines as such, just subsonic aftereffects: buried vibrations, seismic shudders.
On Pole's classic trilogy of albums (1, 2 and 3), Stefan Betke seemed absorbed wholly by the sonic qualities of his music, as the Germen musician flirted with ambient, glitch and dub at a time when electronic music was overly concerned with huge, monochromatic beats. On Wald, his first album in eight years, Betke (aka Pole) has begun to show an interest in the emotional capabilities of his music. Inspired by the long walks he would take through the forests of the Alps, Betke crafted a nine-song, three-part work based on nature's spatiality (Akt 1), raw sounds (Akt 2) and structures (Akt 3).
Wald marks a new beginning—maybe even a new new beginning—for Pole, the solo alias of the Berlin producer and mastering engineer Stefan Betke. It is his first album in seven years, and its predecessor, Steingarten, was itself a kind of reboot. Early on in the Pole project, Betke was remarkably productive: In just six years he recorded five albums, and the first three of those were instant classics, despite the fact that they were all essentially variations on the same theme—an alchemical fusion of dub bass and static crackle.
No matter how strong the allure of the big city heat, eventually there may come a cut-off point for even the most committed urbanite. A time of sudden, splintering fracture when the remorseless chatter and grind, the constant in-your-face scream, of the modern metropolis must finally be escaped. So, you take off in search of renewal and refreshment, travelling fast down tracks or autobahns as landmarks rush by in a blurred smear.
Pole — Wald (Pole Records)After the flurry of hurt-circuit subtlety that Stefan Betke produced at the end of the 1990s as Pole, releases have become infrequent. His latest album Wald draws the listener in as well as any of his work, even as new tracks have become as sparse as the sounds contained therein. After the Steingarten LP way back in 2007, pairs of songs appeared on three EPs and not much else.