It’s always good to see partnerships mature and develop and the latest release from German touch guitarist, Markus Reuter and King Crimson’s Pat Mastelotto shows just how far they’ve come since their 2005 debut, Totem. Whilst that record showcased their mutual interest in rhythmic risk-taking and glitch-orientated electronica, Pole delivers something altogether deeper and personal.
Though their assured musicianship remains very much in evidence, it’s been integrated into a dream-like suite of surprisingly accessible songs fronted by a series of guest vocalists. Peter Kingsbery (from the group Cock Robin) imbues the material with bags of swaggering character especially on the title track, coming across like a bad-ass whiskey preacher on the con.
Such testosterone is tempered by Sirenée (a guest from their debut) who adds an appealing exotic mystery, via whispered vocals, moanings and an intimacy with close-mic technique that tempts the listener further in. Not above letting her hair down, she stands up to the buzzing guitars and thunderous drumming on louder outings such as “Arson Dandy” and “Black Well Monontony.” Those looking for a fix of Crimson may well be disappointed with only the racing rifferama of “Dig”, with its icy speckles of spiky acoustic guitar and Thrak-ish rumbling, fitting that particular bill.
The success of the album is in its threading together of disparate elements into a convincing narrative: rock textures, acid-folk nuances, astringent experimentation and post-rock ephemera, all add up to something that is both sensual and cerebral at the same time.