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Wednesday, March 31, 1999

Snap, Crackle and Dub

Posted By on Wed, Mar 31, 1999 at 12:00 AM

Pole is this guy Stefan Betke who uses a defective audio gizmo – "pole" – to generate random squelches and pops that he then loops into these kind of skipping-record rhythm sections that he then dubs out with out-of-focus basslines and delay effects. Once you get past the sort of dub-science, metal-machine-music gimmick, you realize Betke is really a purist at heart. His underwater melodies over hissy backing rhythms on these simultaneous debut discs are as simple as they are utterly original. Yeah, there’s this great story that Betke’s day job is actually removing all the hisses and pops from master recordings at a Berlin studio, but even without the J.G. Ballardesque footnote, this strangely beautiful noise would still be great.

While the formula is indeed a finite entity – CD1 is more raw and wandering explorations; CD2 is more polished and songlike – Betke finds something familiar, even comforting, in these islands of misfit frequencies. Even without the "experimental electronica" discount or post-rock cachet – Pole’s stateside label is hip indie Matador – Betke’s parallel reality dub stands utterly, darkly, brilliantly on its own.

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