Pole - Waldgeschichten (Pole Music)
Stefan Betke's relationship to the outside world has always been a tricky one, with very little acquiescence to the demands of journalists or fans - letting little slip with the starkly titled trio of 1, 2 and 3, similarly withholding rhythms and melodies in clouds of static, echo, and that trademark Waldorf filter. Even with the wonderful ~scape, Betke was ever the behind-the-scenes A&R man, whilst Barbara Preisinger took the public role. So, when Pole's emotive Steingarten was released, replete with a rework package engaging with the current zeitgeist, it felt like a massive change for someone whose style revolves heavily around obtuseness and distance. Sadly, when ~scape closed its doors earlier this year, Betke once again returned to his status as the great enigma.
Finally then, Pole releases his first EP in far too long - a three part journey into dub, experimental and techno titled Waldgeschichten, and it is an undeniable pleasure to listen to. Whilst the material on early releases conceptualised dub as an aesthetic of sparseness, reductionism and delay work, Wipfel sees Pole embracing a rootsy, rhythm-led sensibility not previously seen, with a skanking organ lead and loose percussion. Similarly,Wurzel works around Maurizio-esque synth drones, but draws a solid steppa's riddim out from the murk, and channels some serious bass into the mix. For most Pole fans, the highlight will undoubtedly be the B-side, which gives us the expected cavernous bass and infintessimal sound design, replete with massive delays that float around and feed back. However, the greatest joy of Waldgeschichten is hearing Pole truly open up and deliver something that feels warm, full of life and more potent than ever. Welcome back.