Boomkat Product Review:
Were it not for the fact that "sound design" has similar negative connotations to "video instillation" and "young Conservatives", it would be a pithy description of Pole's latest LP 'Steingarten' on Scape. Saturated in texture and bristling with intricately plotted digital emotions, 'Steingarten' sees Stefan Betke delivering an album that juxtaposes the subtle with the direct - bringing a light & dark contrast to the music contained within that adds real emotional clought to what are outwardly quite sparse compositions. Always able to engender a warmth from the sterile silicon of the machine heart, Betke again delivers a record which is much more than the sum of its parts - opening the bidding through the low-slung beat and melodic wash of 'Warum'. Jerked along by sparking digitalis and a cracked-glaze beat, 'Warum' really takes flight as some frayed synths crackle into life and spin the tune off into genuinely epic territory. Always placing his foundations in the dub bedrock, Betke once again underlines the fragile electronics with a slouching low-end that ensures there's no trouble - seeing 'Warum' out through an avalanche of didactic noises that is a joy to behold. Moving on from here, our next encounter comes in the shape of 'Winkelstreben' - wherein Betke guts a UK Garage track for rhythmical remedy, then sends it into a haunted dub church after dark. Buffeted by dislocated vocals, humming generators and a Space Invaders arcade going through a mental breakdown, 'Winkelstreben' is inventive, stark and almost dance floor primed - presenting a nice contrast to the 'Warum' prologue. Warm throughout, one of Pole's greatest achievements has been the ability to ingratiate a sense of inclusiveness and experimentalism into outwardly austere sonic territories. A case in point is the creased stutter of 'Sylvenstein' and its barely perceptible evolution from sighing soundscape to cyclical beauty. Elsewhere, 'Düsseldorf' is a fragrantly optimistic slice of chiming beauty, 'Jungs' takes you on a tense excursion to the very heart of the Pole aesthetic, whilst 'Mädchen' is a malleable chunk of warping electronics. Low-end theorists take note - "Steingarten" is an out and out Bass killer!!