Stefan Betke was a notable mastering engineer aligned to the Basic Channel/Rhythm & Sound camp who made his name as Pole with a trilogy of numerical releases (1,2 and 3) at the tail end of the 90s. These three key releases were all made with a broken Waldorf-4-Pole filter that produced a crackle, lending a warmth and spatial depth to his dub techno experiments which can be filed neatly alongside the best of Basic Channel and Chain Reaction as essential parts of any collection.
Now up to his 6th album, and the first since his obsession with hip hop led to a patchy album with rapper Fat Jon, sees a return to at least some of the hallmarks of his early days. This time decontextualised processed electric guitar, industrial scrapes and bleeps mark out territory over some rather anaemic beats – ‘DÃ¼sseldorf’ and ‘Jungs’ probably aiming for the dancefloor but not quite making it. Elsewhere on ‘Sylvenstein’ and ‘Warum’ slight dub inflections lend a sense of humanity to the mechanical. All in all, though, Steingarten is all a bit too directionless and cold – and not a patch on that initial trilogy of albums that still stand up so well.