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Pole

Although you won't find his name in their catalog, Stefan Betke has been closely associated with the Berlin-based Basic Channel label and BC artists such as Maurizio, Monolake, and Vainqueur. Like those artists' bassy, dub-laden reductions of techno and house, Betke's work (appearing so far on the Kiff SM, Din, and Mute labels under the name Pole) has been all about doing more with less -- snaps, clicks, crackles, and smudgy bass atmospheres occupy the whole of Pole 12-inches such as "Tanzen" and "Raum Eins/Raum Zwei," as well as Betke's aptly titled series of CD releases issued by Kiff and distributed to American audiences by Matador. Where most Basic Channel releases cling fearlessly to the throbbing momentum of 4/4 minimalism, however, Betke draws complex, intricate rhythms from the crisp analog haze, layering rich, ghosted melodies over multitracked tape hiss and a barrage of syncopated skips and stutters. Betke's tracks thus share more with off-kilter Kölners such as Oval, Mouse on Mars, and Kandis than with his implied colleagues at Basic Channel studios. Still, his music retains the stark emptiness of Berlin post-techno, though it's far more interesting (and far less dance-friendly) than the comparison might suggest. Betke's nom de plum derives, as usual, from a sound-processing device -- the Waldorf 4 Pole-Filter, from which issue the strained creaks and crackles that identify and characterize his music. In 2003, Betke issued the 45/45 EP (Mute), the first installment in a series of releases that would include the single "90/90" and a self-titled album. These releases were a radical departure, incorporating more pronounced beats and appearances from rapper Fat Jon. ~ Sean Cooper, Rovi
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