Somewhat of an unsung hero in house and techno circles, Ian Pooley has been producing and releasing tracks for over 20 years. The German DJ/producer, born Ian Pinnekamp and hailing from Mainz near Frankfurt, differs from many of his fellow contemporary countrymen, however, by leaning more towards the house music side of the 4/4 spectrum.
Pooley seems to have been quiet for a while, although he tells DJ Mag that he's been quietly releasing tracks on his label, Pooled Music, since his last album four years ago. “I made collaborations with other people such as Spencer Parker on Ovum too,” he says, “and I released an EP under my pseudonym Silvershower on Plus 8.”
Pooley is now back with a new album – 'What I Do' – and it's a cracker. After a somnambulant intro, it really gets going with classic-sounding house cut 'Bring Me Up' featuring the Beloved-style translucent blissed-out vocals of Dominique Keegan. Sampled noises of kids chatting and at play pepper, err, 'Kids Play', a jaunty Metro Area-type electro-funk piece, while the album's title track is a deep 'n' groovy tech-house cut with a sunshine Latin refrain. '1983' is warm '80s synth-pop refracted through deep electroclash, and 'Tale Of The City' zings like a warm and easy deep NRK cut.
The album sounds positively classic, maybe largely because it was made on old analogue gear. “I was a bit late in getting into the computer 'game',” Ian says, “I got my first studio computer in 2007, so I was producing a lot with Logic and Ableton Live in the following years. Since 2010 I got back into my 'old way', using drum machines and synths. It's just more fun to work like that.”
Explaining how he wanted different pieces of analogue kit to shine on each track, he says that the only drum machine he used on 'Compurhythm' — with its warm, elongated bassline one of the Balearic standouts — was the Roland CR78, the classic bit of equipment launched in 1978. Most other producers would struggle to get a similar level of warmth out of just a computer-based set-up.
Before he signed to major label subsid V2 in the noughties, Pooley released a raft of house twelves on labels such as Force Inc, Definitive, Mille Plateaux, with the ones on the Bristol-based NRK particularly leaning towards a Brazilian samba house feel. “I discovered that sound in the late '90s,” Pooley tells DJ Mag. “It was a whole new world to me, and I wanted to know about it all. I especially liked the heavy percussion in there, and I always thought that there were a lot of similarities between house music and the '70s Brazilian sound.”
He expresses regret at only being asked to DJ in Brazil once, having mainly played in The US, UK, Benelux and the Balkans. Ian had started buying records at a young age, 14 in 1987, “and I straight away got into the Chicago and Detroit sound,” he says. “Maybe because I already was a huge fan of Yello and their funkiness, I was more attracted to the American sound.”
Pooley — who is launching a new techno sub-label later this year — has had a career of consistently quality over the years, providing club tools for thousands and thousands of house DJs, but is there a sense in which he has been somewhat overlooked, under-rated or under-appreciated over the years? “There was a period where I wasn't releasing much — like around when minimal and electro got really big,” he replies. “I just wasn't really inspired — but luckily that's over.”
Lucky indeed. Lovers of quality dancefloor gear will be pleased then, but with the explosion of EDM in the States has he been tempted to use his undoubted production skillz to cash in his chips and hit Vegas, baby? “No!” he exclaims, emphatically. “Because I'm in it for the passion. Otherwise I'd never have done it for 21 years!”
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