Pole
1


5.0
classic

Review

by Trifolium USER (13 Reviews)
October 11th, 2019 | 98 replies


Release Date: 1998 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Pole’s story began with chance and accident, but 1’s music is meticulously crafted.

Sometimes chance plays a major role in art. Some of the most well-known examples can be found in European 20th century artists like Marcel Duchamp and Jean Arp. Duchamp created a massive structure made of two enormous panes of glass engraved with tiny channels running between the two sheets, wherein slow chemical reactions traced out a network of lines and forms. When, during transport, one of the two panes of this work, nicknamed Le Grand Verre, got cracked by accident, Duchamp reportedly claimed it was finally finished. Dadaist Jean Arp on the other hand created compositions by dropping paper cut-outs from a short height and sticking them to the canvas wherever they fell.

This chance driven process of creation can also be found in music. Pole mastermind Stefan Betke dropped his Waldorf 4-Pole filter on the floor of his studio, and found that when he connected it afterwards it produced all kinds of fuzzy static and pops and cracks. These sounds charmed him so much that he decided to try out what he could do with them. Thus, by chance and accident, next to giving his new musical project its name, it also provided him with a very unique sonic identity.

Pole’s music on debut album 1 is full of samples of static noises from the poor Waldorf filter. Loops of pops and cracks form the flowing grooves and rickety but steady beats that dominate the musical landscape. These often high sounds are contrasted with dub bass lines of two or three note melodies, which hover quietly underneath, like on Tanzen. Occasionally short synth drones weave in and out of focus, adding another layer over Fremd’s clear, dubby bassline.

Most of 1’s nine tracks rely heavily on rhythm and sparse composition, with melodies playing an inferior role. Betke commented on this lack of melody himself in an interview with Max Dax. ‘’Melodies have never been my motivation – they were always more peripheral. But across those albums [1, 2 and 3], the reverbs and the bass lines were always related and interlinked with each other. By working that way, I didn’t feel as if I was under any artificial pressure, and I could allow things to end loosely’’.

Betke’s lucky accident prevents the music from becoming soulless or cold too, despite his usually impersonal titles and plain album covers. The static evokes an undeniably organic quality to the techno backbone which makes the music breathe and come alive. It isn’t purely abstract music either. The static in the background of Lachen calls to mind the tidal waves of the sea, whereas Berlin’s cavernous depths are populated by what sounds like insects chirping.

All these references to chance and serendipity aren’t to say that Betke didn’t do any composing himself. Quite the opposite is true here, this is music that is meticulously crafted and tweaked. A track like Paula, which could be the album’s best, underscores this perfectly. The seemingly random synth that keeps on going higher in an erratic and roundabout way, only to crash down again when it has reached a shaky peak is lighted clearly by a gorgeous, slow, stately yet slightly goofy bassline. Of course the washes of his broken Pole filter are all over it. When it slowly disintegrates, you feel like you’re lying on your back, perhaps next to the Paula in question, staring in the deep, warm blue hue of the album cover, and you know this seemingly messy album was carefully planned. A person made this. It’s a total triumph.



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user ratings (23)
4.1
excellent


Comments:Add a Comment 
Trifolium
October 11th 2019


19320 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

It is done. One of my all time favourites.

SlothcoreSam
October 11th 2019


2713 Comments


Will i like Pole?

Digging: Enemy Alliance - Damnation Dawning

luci
October 11th 2019


12527 Comments


great review, I like how clear and direct your writing is

Trifolium
October 11th 2019


19320 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Thanks luci!



@Sam: you could try Tanzen or Fremd, recommended to listen at night when relaxing! This certainly took a while for me to get, it needs time to grow. But when it does there's nothing like it.

AnimalsAsSummit
October 12th 2019


5161 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I LOVE POLE! Forgot about this guy for years

Digging: Makoto Featuring Deeizm - Progression Sessions 9: Japan Live 2003

AnimalsAsSummit
October 12th 2019


5161 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

After giving this a thorough re listen I'm thinking 4.5. AMazing.

MotokoKusanagi
October 12th 2019


3444 Comments


this is really good, dled almost instantly

Digging: D.K. - The Ancient Kingdom

Trifolium
October 12th 2019


19320 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Yesssss guys! Pole is amazing and this record is truly special.

Especially Paula for me, that track has so much character.

Trifolium
October 12th 2019


19320 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Can't stop spinning this now.

Trifolium
October 12th 2019


19320 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

That is a glorious rating Animals!

mindleviticus
October 12th 2019


10142 Comments


nice review good band I love this kind of super sparse ambient/dub stuff

mindleviticus
October 12th 2019


10142 Comments


only really listened to 3 and his s/t which was more illbient iirc. This is really good though.

grannypantys
October 12th 2019


2328 Comments


NICE!!

AnimalsAsSummit
October 12th 2019


5161 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

yeah this is atmospheric af. i can see a 5 if it ends up growing on me just a little more

Trifolium
October 12th 2019


19320 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Thanks guys! This so needed a review.



Very glad to hear that AnimalsAsSummit, and totally agree. The atmosphere here is outstanding. This record has a soul and it's a beautiful one.

Pikazilla
October 12th 2019


12977 Comments


Hi, Trif!

Nice review, buddy! Listening to it now and it seems okay so far.

Trifolium
October 12th 2019


19320 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Good to see you here Pika! Thanks bro.

I really don't know what kind of electronic music you dig but this is a dub classic so who knows! Curious to see what you think.

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
October 12th 2019


29425 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Cool write-up, really like this story and the way you told it. Will make a note to dip into this sometime

Digging: Tricot - 10

Trifolium
October 13th 2019


19320 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Thanks Johnny!

Spin it when you're in the mood for something sparse with lots of space.

mindleviticus
October 13th 2019


10142 Comments


not sure if you like vladislav delay but he's fairly similar and I like him a bit more than pole



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