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POLE

Pole

Fading

    Pole is the project of ground-breaking electronic musician Stefan Betke. The new album Fading is the first since 2015’s Wald. As with every new Pole record, it’s part of a continued forward trajectory but it also connects to a pre-existing sonic framework. “Every Pole record connects to recordings that I've made before,” Betke says, “in order to stay in this kind of vertical development. The ideas from 1, 2, 3 up to now are connected. I keep the interesting elements, languages and vocabulary that I designed and add new elements.” Fading follows the physical released on Mute of remastered versions of his iconic albums 1, 2, 3 to much acclaim.

    STAFF COMMENTS

    says: With me and Barry both long term fans, Pole is a long-serving pioneer of dub-techno, glitch and freestyle electronix. He's lost of his pizaza and originality on this new LP.

    FORMAT INFORMATION

    2xColoured LP Info: Limited edition double 'Aztec Gold' vinyl.

    2xColoured LP includes MP3 Download Code.

    POLE

    3 (Love Record Stores Edition)

      Love Record Stores Edition available from 9am on Saturday June 20th.
      Limited to one per person.

      Yellow coloured vinyl.

      FORMAT INFORMATION

      2xColoured LP Info: Yellow coloured vinyl.

      Pole

      123

        Pole, aka musician, producer and mastering engineer Stefan Betke releases the remastered reissues of his debut album releases, 1, 2 and 3 as a box set. 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 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.

        Firehose

        Flyin' The Flannel / Mr. Machinery Operator / Live Totem Pole EP

          American punk rock trio’s two Columbia albums from 1991 and 1993, plus 1992’s Live Totem Pole EP. fIREHOSE (as the band’s name is stylized) was formed in 1986 by Mike Watt, George Hurley and Ed Crawford, after the death of guitarist/vocalist D. Boon brought an end to Watt and Hurley’s previous band, Minutemen. The band split in 1994, but got back together in 2012 and have continued to gig on and off since then. Digitally remastered and slipcased with new notes.

          The Shining Levels

          The Gallows Pole

            "Resonating with the raw currents of nature, notes of hot human emotion and wild surges of power and defiance which underpin the narrative...This music takes on the textures of hardship and hope, the human continuance and determination to strive in the countryside, to come to some kind of understanding with nature." - Louder Than War.

            The Shining Levels are a new music collective based in Northumberland and Durham. Written and recorded on the edge of the northern English moors and using rural folk musicians, loops and electronics, the record is a heady brew of gritty landscape hymns, ethereal acid-folk, borderlands ballads, 70s folk horror TV/film atmospherics, mood pieces, echoes of the colliery bands of old, moor-top drones and much, much more. Music inspired by the novel The Gallows Pole sees The Shining Levels tread similar topographical terrain to The Unthanks, and shares DNA with such disparate musical ancestors such as Pentangle, Sandy Denny, Bridget St. John and Tom Waits, though is its own beast entirely. A combined love of ambient music, hip-hop production and musical obscurities from far-flung countries meanwhile ensure this is a folk record in a very real - and very modern - sense.

            Inspired by the real life events of 18th century Yorkshire criminal gang the Cragg Vale Coiners who operate in the Upper Calder Valley in the Pennines, the album's source material, The Gallows Pole by author Benjamin Myers, has rapidly become a modern cult classic. It is the first novel to be signed to Jack White's Third Man Books, and will be published in the US/Canada in November 2019. It has also been optioned for film adaptation.

            Drawing on a shared childhood and background with the author, The Shining Levels' music explores themes from the book: an England divided, the potency and mystery of remote rural landscapes, industrial progress, the changing seasons, shifting fortunes, self-delusion and self-aggrandisement, poverty vs wealth, societal power structures - and strange visions of mythical creatures.

            "We had a shared playlist which included lots of folk music," explains Davey J.of the influences on the band. "I also looked into pagan music too, which really leads you down the rabbit hole. But I also become obsessed with the app Radiooooo which lets you tap anywhere on a map of the world and select any decade from when recorded music began, so you can instantly flick from Madagascan 70's Jazz to Kazakhstani lounge music. At the same time I discovered all this great ambient / atmospheric / instrumental music that was perfect to work to: William Basinski, Grouper, A Winged Victory For The Sullen and more. These became very important for the mood and the very visual soundscapes, and definitely shaped the way we were writing."

            "I've always enjoyed hip-hop productions which sample, loop or collaborate with jazz musicians as it feels a very natural blend of contemporary life and technologies with music of great historical and emotional gravitas," says Dan Coggins. ""I was probably listening as much to RZA or Nigerian Funk as I was Nick Drake when we were writing it. The thought was to do a similar thing here: essentially reflecting on our own cultural environment as a means to illustrate a book which, while being set in a rural past, has a very modern voice and tone."

            The album was recorded further up the stony Pennine spine from the novel's setting, in a variety of shifting locations: a rented attic conversion on the outskirts of Durham, a similar rented attic conversion in Corbridge, Northumberland and not-for-profit community centre, Core Music in Hexham. Backing vocals and flute parts were recorded as far away as you can get from the spacious, windswept ancient north before hitting water: a cottage overlooking the sea in Lizard, Cornwall. A small spoken word section was recorded in Mytholmroyd, where the Cragg Vale Coiners ruled with fear and intimidation.

            For instrumentation, the idea was to record some traditional sounds but using software to manipulate and structure the music. "I had vague memories of pirate horror VHS's and creepy 70s and 80s British kids' TV music," explains Dan. "I got hold of some old keyboards and a delay unit which gave a bit of that flavour too."

            Here then, the bucolic meets the technological, and the rural collides with the digital to thrilling effect. "There's certainly a nod towards what many may consider English folk, certainly in Laura's beautiful plaintive voice," elaborates Davey. "But there's also pounding drums, overdriven electric guitar, loops and samples all over the place. So I think to call it folk music would actually be doing it a disservice. It's a set of quite different songs and moods forming a larger soundscape that hopefully takes the listener on a unique journey.

            The band take their name from another literary source: The Shining Levels, author/park ranger John Wyatt's classic 1973 account of living closely with nature in the Lake District. And here it is. Music inspired by the novel The Gallows Pole, an elegiac album of beauty, resistance, anger and poetry. A soundtrack that straddles the ages.

            'Wald' begins immediately, ends abruptly, and is divided into three acts over three tracks. It is the first studio album under Stefan Betke's Pole moniker for eight years. Eight years is an eternity in the digital age - yet the pieces on ‘Wald’ seem timeless, or to have fallen from time.

            Over several years, long walks in the woods preceded the resumption of the production of his new material. He was essentially waiting, applying patience, and viewing life as battery which needs to be recharged. For Pole, the forest was where it was at: its spatiality; the above, below and beyond; the horizon, offset by the vertical axes of the trees. "With previous albums, the city was that forest. Inspiration came from a walk through Berlin or Manhattan, where I could hear or see or read something and then understand that it is possible to continue." So the forest was where Pole found the urge to “transcribe" that nebulous feeling into music.

            On ‘Wald’ it is manifested, for example, in raw sounds (second act) and in psychedelic structures (third act), which sound as if they might be guitars (but are actually distorted synthetic lines). The new compositions on ‘Wald’ do not deny their inheritance within the continuum of dub, yet they bring an entirely new vocabulary to Pole's sonic and spatial universe. The structures, forms and processes that Betke perceived in the forest were translated into musical structures, forms and processes that inherently sounded like Pole. Perhaps the forest simply produces reverberations (just like the echo in the mountains!) that give rise to a bounty of thoughts. The story behind it is told in music, without the use of words – as has previously so often been the case with Pole.


            Ex Harmonia member, and Cluster/Eno collaborator presents his first new album in over seven years. Pure electronic current abstracted into riffs and textural sound poems - unpredictably cutting edge!


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