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White Noise: Pole – Waldegeschichten

Friday, 4 November 2011

Pole – Waldegeschichten



Wipfel Dub

Stefan Betke has always assumed a shadowy figure beyond the music that he has produced, but his importance in the electronic scene is not to be underestimated. Spanning thirteen years of dub experimentation, his releases have evolved slowly and consistently, reconstructing dub ideas in new minimal and techno settings. Outside of his releases, his creation with Barbara Preisinger of the sadly defunct ~scape label has brought us other brilliant releases from the likes of Deadbeat, Frivolous, John Tejada and many others. So where can Betke take us on this, his first release as Pole for two years?

The answer is necessarily unsurprising. Just as his previous releases ignored the latest trends and buzzwords to focus instead on phenomenal precision and a keen rhythmic sensibility, here the devil is once more in the details. At first there isn’t too much to set Waldegeschichten (‘Forest Lore’) apart from his back catalogue, we hear the same dub echoes in micro-edited techno landscapes with an unmatched sense of space in his compositions. But listen more closely (as his music forces you to) and the differences emerge. Wipfel start typically with a locked loop and atmospheric hiss, but over its eight minute runtime evolves into an unexpectedly busy and rich composition, with delayed organ keys casting a dubby groove over loose percussion. It’s hard to keep track of all the disparate elements here before the track is already in full swing; a gorgeously lush and fantastically detailed slice of micro-dub/techno/whatever.

In another unsurprising but immensely welcome stroke, Pole keeps up a supreme level of consistency throughout. So much so, in fact, that it’s difficult to pick a favourite between the two full tracks here. Wurzel is a far more spacious and downbeat affair, the beat sometimes slipping away entirely before lulling you back into its sparse hypnotic groove. Every sound here is treated to the tiniest alterations to complement the whole fluidly, and Pole’s attention to detail constantly amazes in the richness of every note on this release. The third cut, Wipfel Dub, is not quite essential but is a warm and (obviously) more dub-centric edit of the original, with the delays and echoes taken up a notch and given more space to breathe.

Waldegeschichten is Pole doing what Pole does best; acutely nuanced cuts of dub techno that are fantastically rich and constantly contemporary. But here his compositions are richer and more rhythmic than ever, and it’s an incredibly welcome return for Betke. For some, four years out would be too long away from the scene, but it’s clearly not the case here and I’ll certainly be waiting with keen anticipation for his next LP due out in early 2012.


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