...this remarkable, almost infinitely tactile music won't let you down.
Due to its eschewal of pop’s staple rules of engagement – tunes, lyrics, regular beats – [a]Pole[/a] might appear to be the quintessential background music, but beware: on no account should this record be played if the listener wants to actually get stuff done at the same time. From the first languorous thud to the final careworn digital gasp, the third of Stefan Betke‘s colour-coded glitch symphonies is like stepping into aural quicksand. Resistance is futile. Indeed, the less one protests, the more blissful the experience becomes.
Betke‘s yellow album differs from its red and blue predecessors only in the fiercely considered details. The unsteady rhythms are still created by the Berlin-resident former cutting engineer through his defective Waldorf-4-Pole sound filter. This minefield of scratches, clicks and whirrs is then embellished by glimpses of melody so sparing they could be the defiant last frequencies of a dying star. But this time Betke frequently lifts his head from the desk long enough to acknowledge the existence of a world beyond his frozen dub pond. There are faintly discernible human voices on ‘Taxi’ and a sprightlier momentum pertains through ‘Klettern’ and the masterful ‘Strand’, where ghostly rimshots flicker across a melodica chirping away some ten feet above the sofa.
And by heck, the chances are you will be. It is, obviously, the ultimate reposers record, a refinement of reggae’s corrupted timescale and the minimalist hum of burnt-out techno, not to mention a riot of subjective evocation. Betke‘s titles derive simply from what each track suggests to him, so it seems perfectly logical to devise one’s own alternatives: ‘Karussell’ thus becomes ‘Careful Armadillo’, ‘Rondell Zwei’ is ‘Leaky Kettle’, and the closing ‘Fohlenfurz’ ‘Christ, Is That The Time? I Should Have Been At Work Two Hours Ago’. Whether ingested either as a palliative against the wearying bombardment of 21st-century life, or else an enthralling journey through the abstract space in someone else’s head, this remarkable, almost infinitely tactile music won’t let you down. It’ll just take you there and let you sleep it off.