Over the course of three incrementally perfected albums, minimal-techno producer Pole took dub and reasserted it as a process rather than a style. The term "dub" gets thrown around to mark anything with a simple echo or delay effect, but at its core, it's less an end than a beginning, an active music that sounds like it's happening in real-time all the time. Pole's glitchy mood-pieces aren't very dynamic, but his electronic ambience, swathed in static and hiss, eased into dub's wormhole more convincingly than most. Not so the starched glitch-hop that comprises the new Pole, a stylistic side-step that trips and falls without making much of the tumble. The album starts with a marked change in "Slow Motion," a straight-up track that features MC Fat Jon rapping about time and its hard ephemerality. The lyric isn't bad, but Jon's delivery isn't hip-hop–it's ho-hum talking over beats. Such plainness governs too much of Pole, which features vocals on five of its nine songs. A few of the wordless tracks make narcotic soup of their minimal ingredients: wondrously processed saxophone snaking on "Bushes (There Is A Secret Behind)," warm off-time shuffle clicks on "Umbrella." But with his warped sound palette wiped comparatively clean, Pole gives his tracks too much room to breathe, tempering them with a blandness that mutes their otherwise impressive effects. Dub elements ripple subtly across the surface, but their waves waste away through contact with unadorned spoken-raps and overextended beat gaps. The melodic dub rub of Pole's 2000 album 3 didn't hold out much for future expansion, but the ostensible escape route charted on Pole sounds more like a dead end.

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