[Guest Post by Brian Smith]
The things I always like best about cuts like this are the facts that go with the idea that you aren’t quite sure about what you’ve just heard after it ends… you wouldn’t call it IDM, though there was certainly enough candy in the piece to keep your attention. You wouldn’t really call it techno because there is no real personally identifiable “hook.” In fact, you wouldn’t be too sure that you’d even label it a “dance” track of any sort… though you were totally groovin’. In the end, you probably wouldn’t be able to decide whether or not the piece you just heard was utterly complex or paleo-basic & elementary, which under certain listening conditions, expands the murk in multifold.
To take from the title of a terrific compilation by one of my favorite record labels (Nonplace) — “Difficult Easy Listening” — I find that to be an appropriate phrase to the question: Where’s your head at? Speaking in terms of what has currently been catching my ear, of course.
His initial releases each came in one primary colored sleeve and numbered 1-3 accordingly (which I never owned until recently), so the new cover art alone was enough for me to stop and recognize that he had something new to say.
Steingarten is Pole’s 6th album and 4th proper album following two releases which featured takes of older material. The track I selected here (Achterbahn) was chosen for its “bounce.” It is generally those tracks, which most find easiest to absorb upon first listen… particularly when discussing some of the more minimal music with such marrow-rich skeletal frame-work.
I chose this record as my electronic album of the year, and it was a pretty tough decision. Mostly because there was another record released last year that I think I recommended more. But in the end it came down to the artist who I think made the biggest statement in terms of how much the material appears to have challenged him (her), and represents a step forward in their careers. No one, in my opinion, made that step bigger last year than Pole.
When an artist releases something at a point in his career that it makes you go back to examine what came before from a different perspective to find out what you’ve been “missing” all along, there ain’t nothing cooler!!! And I’ve discovered even more interesting artists due to THIS record than I have any other in quite some time.
Worked for me!
Pole is the artistic name of Stefan Betke, a German electronic music artist commonly associated with the glitch genre as well as dubtronica.
Pole took his name from a Waldorf 4-Pole filter, which he accidentally dropped and broke in 1996. Though the filter was perhaps no longer appropriate for DJ work in its damaged state, Betke found the strange hissing and popping noises the filter now made interesting, and began using the broken filter to create music, launching his musical career.
Betke’s first four albums, titled “1”, “2”, “3”, and “R” (an intentional trilogy of albums, followed by a collection of remixes of Pole’s 1998 debut EP Raum), were all based around this filter, with songs usually taking the form of dub basslines and rhythms with percussion provided by the eponymous filter. In 2003 Betke departed from this style for the album Pole (a combination of tracks from two EPs, “45/45” and “90/90”), which utilized more traditionally electronic but still eclectic production.
Pole has been distributed on several different labels, including Matador Records and Mute Records, and in 1999 Betke cofounded (with Barbara Preisinger) the label ~scape, also known for publishing Jan Jelinek.