November 13, 2019
In the mid-1990s, German artist Stefan Betke dropped and damaged a Waldorf 4-pole filter. Instead of smoothing out frequencies, the filter now made pops, hisses, and weirdly shaped bass. Betke turned this expensive accident into a new artist name, Pole, and a new instrument, harkening back to the early hardware experiments of dub reggae.
Pole's first three numbered albums used that same physical filter for deep explorations of texture, echo, and dissonance; of them, 3 from 2000 is the easiest entry point. 2007's Steingarten has more traditional beats, choruses and melodies than his early dubtronica, yet retains the uncommon edges and strange timings. Wald, from 2015, is slower and more contemplative, but also includes three "live" (in-studio but real-time) mixes that show off Betke's enduring debt to dub reggae’s echoes and off-kilter rhythm. Repeat listenings are rewarded, headphones highly encouraged.