Pole

Komfort.Labor Presents ~scape

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No matter which perspective listeners take when approaching Komfort.Labor Presents ~scape, the album proves successful: as a commemoration of the celebrated Komfort.Labor club nights in Berlin; as a showcase for the ~scape label and its ambient dub-techno sound; and also as a home listener-orientated DJ mix by ~scape label head Stefan Betke, better known as Pole. Rarely does one get the chance to experience down-tempo DJ mixes -- most DJ mix albums feature dancefloor material. And because of this simple matter of fact, Komfort.Labor instantly stands out from the crowd. Furthermore, given the brand equity associated with Betke's Pole moniker in the dub-techno community, Komfort.Labor takes on yet more of a noteworthy status. And if none of that seems to spark listeners' interest when approaching this mix, perhaps ~scape's who's-who roster of affiliates will -- some of the more recognized names here being Matthew Herbert (as Dr. Rockit), Jan Jelinek (as Farben), and Betke (as Pole), as well as Kit Clayton and Vladislav Delay (as themselves). In other words, it's safe to say this album has a lot going for it. Betke doesn't drop a straightforward set, though. His set is actually quite adventurous and characterized somewhat by its idiosyncrasies. There are four primary tracks which anchor the hour-long set -- Delay's "Siru," Maus & Stolle's "Taxi," Flanger's "Quicksilver Loom," and Pole's "Rondell 2" -- interspersed with a number of shorter tracks that function as segues. The first is trademark Delay, a quiet yet chaotic piece much in the style of his more ambient Chain Reaction records; the second is the album's peak in terms of tempo and rhythm, a chugging dub-techno track; the third finds Atom Heart and Burnt Friedman seemingly making as much noise as possible with cacophonous jazzy snares and manic piano keys; and the fourth comes straight from Pole's 3 LP. As one may presume, Betke takes some unexpected directions on this mix, which should please anyone who trusts his sense of adventure while simultaneously disappointing anyone looking for a straight-ahead ambient dub-techno mix. Yet even if some of the noisier detours in the mix don't sit well with listeners, Betke never strays too far from the patented dub sound we've come to expect from him -- he may throw listeners for a curve here and there, but thankfully always comes back to the deep, dark, glitchy basslines.

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