Pole

1,2,3

Mute

Released: 24th April 2020

3x LP Boxset£69.99 Pre-Order Dispatched on or before Friday 24th April 2020
CD Boxset£14.99 Pre-Order Dispatched on or before Friday 24th April 2020


Minimalist masterpieces of abstract dub, Stefan Betke's singular statement deserves to be consumed in its entirety. Released on vinyl (for the first time in nearly 20 years) and CD (remastered since its 2008 reissue), the box set release marks 20 years since the trilogy was completed and a return to the label for the groundbreaking artist.
Pole, aka musician, producer and mastering engineer Stefan Betke, has announced the remastered reissue of his debut album releases, 1, 2 and 3, available on Mute as a box set on 24 April 2020. Pole 1 (1998), Pole 2 (1999) and Pole 3 (2000), originally released as three consecutive albums in their own right, and described by The Wire as “…a set of roadmaps for the soul”, are presented together to highlight Pole’s deliberate statement - reinforced by the titling of the albums and their minimalist monochrome cover art.

Leap years ahead of many of his contemporaries, Pole's debut "1" still came onto a rich musical landscape already breaking apart in every genre. Guitar music had been dissected to bits by the likes of Tortoise, Fennesz, while Techno and electronic music had further delved into its dub roots with the likes of Basic Channel applying severe methodology to minimal music. Betke's magic trick was to seemingly combine all of these elements into a new language that became instantly distinct. Extrapolating on "2" and "3", this music now sounds like beautiful future full of wonder and melancholy that never quite arrived. "Modul," track one on "1" sounds like a Basic Channel 12" scratched to hell and stuck on a loop, hiss like rain gently washing the mind's crevices. From then on in, the digital and the analog are melded into a utterly clensing fusion, one that seems to envolope the listener with loving arms. Sound sources are distinct yet vague, memes of audio information that recall different things to the beholder. The scratch of a record in a childhood home, a Jah Shaka style bass line rooting the rhythm with Cologne Techno chord stabs rising and falling, threatening to break like digital waves.

There's plenty of ideological clashes that rub together. On one hand this music can feel clinical, not unlike the pioneering, abstract techno of Autechre at their most refracted but there's always a consistent pulse at the heart of Pole's music that keeps the soul in the groove, even, as on "Lachen" when there's seemingly just clicks and pops bouncing around the stereo field. As Batke's craft moved on, some of the statements became more extreme, on "Streit" there's a monolithic kick drum smothered in cathedral reverb threatening to break through the abstract, polyrhythmic bleeps until the dungeon bass line brings you up for ecstatic air. Those heavily filtered chords spell out the end of the world in the traffic jam on "Taxi," the counterpoint to what may be a clandestine recording of a passenger / driver relationship before the track elevates into a highly evolved pulsating, gelatinous throb.

Years later, the music of Pole could be seen as an important signpost in the development of minimal techno and electronic dub, with the likes of Burial seeming to use this music as a blueprint to make his own emotive language. However, Batke's music deserves to be seen as a totemic, singular piece of work that suggests an almost infinite amount of better, possible worlds.


Pole 1 (1998), Pole 2 (1999) and Pole 3 (2000), originally released as three consecutive albums in their own right, and described by The Wire as “…a set of roadmaps for the soul”, are presented together to highlight Pole’s deliberate statement - reinforced by the titling of the albums and their minimalist monochrome cover art