For all the theories about field recordings and dub techniques, it's the title on Stefan Betke's latest release that best sums up where his sonic approach is at. "Lurch" does exactly what its name suggests, throwing down a mid-tempo rhythm that's slightly off-beat. Combined with a looped chord and a sample of what sounds like a cat's miaow - or it could have just been the late hour that this reviewer listened to the release - and "Lurch" shows why Betke remains one of electronic music's most idiosyncratic producers. The fact that its tempo slows to a crawl before it ends can only endear the listener to Pole's machinations. By contrast, "Moos" is austere, with a menacing sub-bass and metallic whirrs and clicks showing Pole's more introspective side.
Stefan Betke makes a welcome return eight years after his last LP, Steingarten. In places his style has adapted, bringing in different shades of melodic colour and tone in amongst the glitchy constructs he made his name on. At times the sound feels very different to the hushed, austere minimal dub of old, but then there are tracks such as "Wurzel (live)" that directly beam back into the heart of the original Pole sound without repeating the same tricks. If anything the sound is more dense here, pulsing with thick textures without losing that razor sharp precision that marks Betke out as an auteur in his own right.
Leaf Records certainly have an impressive back catalogue, with Caribou and Murcof having releases a series of albums and singles each. In all honesty, we always know that Tony Morley's label will be coming through with some excellent mixture of eclectic sounds and beats, and this latest EP has proved us right. Label favourites Roll The Dice meet for an interesting collaboration with none other than Berlin minimal-glitch don, Pole. "Calling Dub Workers" is a marvellous excursion into off-kilter drum bangs and zoned-out harmonics, where an irresistibly mesmerising drum pattern sways gracefully to the sound of a delayed siren-like bleep. "Echo Hands" is another scorcher, and while it's more up-tempo than the previous track, it refuses to scrap that lazy, head-nodding vibe that makes these tracks just so damn soulful. The final track "The Skull Is Built Into The Version" is the more complex of the three, adding extra sub-layers of tweaked percussion and delayed melodies to form a thick, dusty groove for the more contemplative hours of the day. Massive TIP!
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