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Tuesday, September 25th, 2001
8:14a - Review: Pole > R
If you have followed, and enjoyed, the work of Stefan Betke, otherwise known as Pole, you have nothing to be worried about with this new release. It captures all the trademark sounds that he has cultivated, and does so much more with it. I believe this is Pole's first release under his own ~scape label. Additionally, this album also contains three (or four) remixed tracks, by Burnt Friedman (nice name!) and Kit Clayton, also from ~scape. Which leads me to believe this is not a release proper, but I shall treat it as one anyway.

Historically Pole's sound has excelled at creating vast melodies and sonic ideas by using only the bare minimum of cues and hints. If you listen closely, you'll hear nothing but distant pops, abrupt organ strikes here and there, a little hiss, then a click; the very characterization of minimal glitch. However, if you sit back and let it all flow through your ears, you'll be surprised to hear an elaborate melody floating amongst the peaks. It is simultaneously as vaporous as cotton candy and as fun as spiked punch (spiked punch cotton candy? Now there is an idea.)

R does not stray too far from this concept, but like his prior full length 3, the sound has definitely evolved into a much more rich, warm experience. In fact, this goes even further than 3, expanding the sounds, and decreasing the black space around them. Indeed, even the hissing crackling texture is now almost entirely gone on some tracks. The result is much less cold and distant than prior releases.

The track listing itself appears fairly boring. We have Raum 1, 2, 3, and 4. Then a plethora of variations on those. Indeed, these are labeled: "Raum 1 Variation", "Raum 2 Variation", and well, you get the picture. So I was a bit leery when I first started listening to the music. However, while there is a definite theme, or characteristic that binds all of the songs together, there is plenty of variety to go around. Thankfully it still retains that eerie "reggae troop lost out in the middle of an intergalactic voyage" sound.

The remixed tracks are another thing to consider. They deviate quite a bit from the originals, and surprisingly, a couple of them are even energetic and bold. This alone makes R a much more accessible album with good texture, and one that I would be less hesitant to recommend to folks who are just getting into the electronic sound-scape.

In summary: If you enjoy Pole's older work, you'll enjoy R as well, even though it does stray a bit from what created the sound. If you've never really given it a try before, but you like minimal sounds, you just might like this, and if you like it enough you should try out other Pole sounds as well.

current mood: Pleasant.

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