Ian Pooley has been around the block too many times to be lumped in with the current wave of German techno artists, most of whom are either obsessed with paring down their music to impossibly minimalist levels or simply milking the same repetitive sound.
Pooley began his musical career with the same rooting as other current German acts, listening to the first wave of Detroit dance singles that influenced almost everyone who's ever touched a synthesizer. Later, he would churn out a brand of techno inspired by the muse of Motor City legends with his schoolmate DJ Tonka. Now, Pooley is eschewing the hipster abstraction of Mouse on Mars and the minimalism of the Basic Channel/Chain Reaction axis, and instead staying true to the Detroit tradition by exploring new rhythmic fronts.
Pooley has followed his early techno singles and first album, Meridian, with a new disc brimming with techno filtered through Fela Kuti's Afrobeat, subtle house grooves and even the occasional pop spin. Pooley's second album for V2 records, Since Then, is further propelled and energized by his new stylistic toy, the seductive Brazilian rhythm.
By the time he hits you with "Bay of Plenty," he's daring you to try not to dance. This music has a pulse, a life of its own far removed from the artificial, repetitive thump of the trance which, until recently, dominated the scene in Pooley's Frankfurt homebase. Instead, the Latin-ized rhythms spin and sway, finding new sonic wrinkles with every bar. Chanteuse of the moment Kirsty Hawkshaw, first sampled by Orbital on "Halcyon + on + on" and who recently appeared on Swayzak's latest, continues her streak with the disc's magnificent climax, "Visions."
Pooley has the smarts to replicate the dynamics of a good DJ set on record, starting slow and catchy, delivering the goods in the middle, and finally riding out a subdued beat and chill-out-inducing vibe on the album-closing "Cloud Patterns." Since Then captures the thrill of walking in the doors and finding that the DJ's already better than you thought, then hearing him really blow away the club with a repertoire of swinging Latin tracks, before finally sending you back into the night (or early morning) with appropriately hypnotic sounds. If Pooley's upcoming Valley set lives up to half the promise of Since Then, it should be quite a treat.
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