Artist Details

Pole

Although you won't find his name in their catalog, producer and mastering engineer Stefan Betke was closely associated with the Berlin-based Basic Channel label and its artists, such as Maurizio, Monolake, and Vainqueur. Like those artists' bassy, dub-laden reductions of techno and house, Betke's work -- which appeared under the alias Pole, named after Waldorf's 4-Pole sound-processing device -- was about doing more with less. Snaps, clicks, crackles, and smudgy bass atmospheres occupied the whole of Pole singles such as "Tanzen" and "Raum Eins," as well as Betke's numbered 1998-2000 series of albums issued by Kiff and distributed to American audiences by Matador. Where most Basic Channel releases clung fearlessly to the throbbing momentum of 4/4 minimalism, Betke drew complex, intricate rhythms from the crisp analog haze, layering rich, ghostly melodies over multi-tracked tape hiss and a barrage of syncopated skips and stutters. Betke's tracks thus shared more with off-kilter Kölners such as Oval, Mouse on Mars, and Kandis than with his colleagues at Basic Channel. Still, his music retained the stark emptiness of Berlin post-techno, though it was more interesting -- and far less dance-friendly -- than the comparison might suggest.