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Ian Pooley

Berlin, Germany


audio tonic Records, AV8 Music, F Communications
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Only two years have passed since the release of Ian Pooley’ debut album “Meridian”. Although there had been an earlier released album collection of his tracks, “The Times” (1996), Ian never considered that a to be a true Ian Pooley album. “The Times”, however did suceeded by getting to the heart of what every clubber has come to expect from of Ian Pooley…the satisfaction of the dance floor in one track. Those who valued this talent considered Pooley a master of the uncomplicated floorfiller: functionalism as an artform that deserves to be respected.

Respect was not long in coming,as Ian Pooley’ musical signature became a sought-after commodity. Remix commissions soon arrived from the likes of Daft Punk, Dee-Lite, The Cardigans and Yello to name a few. For Ian an investment, which he had started to make at the age of 16, began to pay off. Back then he refused to consider his musical capital as an investment, but it soon became apparent to him that the music world would not continue to exist forever merely out of supreme rapture on the most recent Derrick May or Kevin Saunderson releases. His love for a certain kind of techno sound from Detroit inspired Ian to send a reader’ letters to music press, but a whole new world spread before him when he’d acquired his first musical equipment.

While still as a student in a Mainz grammar school, Ian released his first original productions together with his sidekick Thomas Gerlach (better known today as DJ Tonka). Their cooperation worked and Pooley and Gerlach gave to a Frankfurt record store called “Boy” (and thought it pretty cool that somebody was actually prepared to release them). It was with their first attempts at their own interpretation of the Detroit techno sound mixed with their boisterously breakbeat orgies that Pooley/Gerlach brought out music under the “Space Cube” alias at first, and than under the name Force Inc. When their label, owned by former “Boy” shop assistant Achim Szepansk, developed into a respected techno independent, Pooley and Gerlach decided to followed their own musical visions on separate paths.

Eventually Ian was signed by V2 that led to the “Meridian” album. Equipped with plenty of props from the international club scene, this signing was commented on by the German music press as his chance “to make it from the 12” springboard" (Spex 07/98). The effectiveness of Ian Pooley’ production on the dance floor was sufficiently known, but the question of whether Pooley would be able fill a whole album remained to be answered.

When “Meridian” came out, Pooley proved he could, as the album proved that Ian Pooley had matured into one of the most diverse house producers around. “Meridian” gained fans with it’ supreme diversity in all those areas where Pooley had previously been thought of with a certain one-dimensionalism. The tracky sound so typical of Ian Pooley still dominated the album, but at the same time “Meridian” offered a sensitive feel for melodies that always seemed to find their proper place. Mixing discreet disco and wild pitch references, deep downbeat numbers like “What’ Your Number” revived a relaxed soul authenticity with pop music qualities that gained support from Gilles Peterson to Jazznova.

Since then a lot of water has flowed under that bridge across the river Rhine near Mainz, where Ian still calls home. “Since Then” has turned out to be even a little more musical, beautiful and romantic in many places than “Meridian” has led us to assume or indeed expect. With it’ laid-back Brazilian atmosphere, a certain ease and unrestrained vitality runs through the album, but the very elements that impressed us on “Meridian” continue to develop consistently on “Since Then”. Pooley’ versatile talent is no longer restricted to little melodies, as there are a number of solid songs among the tracks on the album. Also, for the first time Pooley has invited female vocalists to join him on the production and has recorded live with them. On “Coração Tambor”, the Portuguese voices of Rosanna and Zélia are showcased in a sensitive Brazilian deep-house track, which changes to an almost Balearic atmosphere thanks to an airy guitar sample. In “Visions”, Kirsty Hawkshaw’ (vocalist for Opus 3’ “It’ A Fine Day Today”) almost breathy vocals seems fragile & tenderf next to the soulful and deep-house rhythms of “Visions”. Later in the album, Rosanna and Zélia’ voices develop a virtually spiritual equilibrium that accompanies the Afro- beat elements of “Menino Brincadeira”.

Music aficionados will recognize that Ian Pooley plays among the very top of the Champions League with his technological abilities, programming and arrangements of samples and beats – quite aside from all the highly elaborate intricacies. This particular way of dealing with sound has been turned into an Ian Pooly trademark & can still be easily identified as his alone among hundreds of productions. The tight drum arrangements, as in the title song “Since Then”, that occasionally fall into B-Boy type breaks are typical of Pooley’ production skills.

Pooley is still an unasked member of that group of super producers surrounding Armand Van Helden, Basement Jaxx, Roger Sanchez & Co that call themselves the Mongoloids. They are likely to lay back benevolently when they hear that honorary Mongoloid member Ian has not neglected one talent on the album, despite of all the musical diversity apparent on “Since Then”. Ian has managed to create a floorburner out of nowhere, and his music is likely to make many dance floors revolve on their own axis… by about “900 Degrees”.