Pole — Fading

It's great to know that Mute Records is alive! One of the first indie labels, organised by Daniel Miller in 1978, is still prolific and active! Electro-pop, industrial, experimental electronica, indie rock and more, not so many labels in the world could compete with Mute in the sense of diversity, and, of course, quality. Having super popular names like Depeche Mode and Erasure in the catalog, Mute (and its sublabels like NovaMute and Blast First), nonetheless, continues to pay attention to experimental and progressive music in a wider sense of the word. And being now the part of EMI, Mute, to my mind, got more possibilities to promote and distribute advanced music and interesting projects around the world. Fading by Pole is a good example of Mute Records vision of modern electronica.

Pole is the solo project of German electronic composer and sound producer Stefan Betke, who's artistic activity has lasted for more than 20 years. His most famous albums are the trilogy of 1 2 3 issued by Mute and remastered at the beginning of this year. This new album is also connected somehow to the trilogy, like almost every recording of Betke is the continuation of the previous work, but with new elements, of course. The current album by Pole was partly inspired by the idea of memory loss (unfortunately the 91 year old mother of Stefan has dementia), at the same time the musician is trying to develop his music into something new, but with traces of elements of the trilogy. We can hear in the background pops and glitches, for example. Another trademark of every work of Betke is the use of a broken Waldorf 4-Pole filter (the project named after this device) that gave the distinct sound to his recordings.

Fading is a very complex and carefully produced album. It is rhythmically groovy and meditative at the same time, melancholic and bright, atmospheric and danceable. Not so easy to categorise it stylistically.

The artwork of the album is also the result of an accident, Betke's TV was broken during a heavy thunderstorm and after some recovering it produced a strange colourful image on the screen, reminding the process of defragmentation or erasing memory.

In general Fading is another excellent album by Pole, available digitally and physically and, to my mind, highly recommended not only to fans of experimental electronics but to all people of good musical taste.