It is with a certain weight of expectation that I begin to listen to any new Innervisions release. The Berlin-based label, founded by Dixon and Ame in 2005, has forged a reputation for quality which operates on an entirely separate plane to the boom and bust musical fads that bubble on the surface of the European scene. Often transcending genre, and always ambitious in scope, their back catalogue demonstrates a rare understanding of how subtle production and use of melody can drive powerful emotions, both at home and on the dance-floor. It is with some relief, though certainly no surprise, that I have found Ian Pooley’s latest offering, ‘CompuRhythm’, to possess these qualities in abundance.
Of course, this is not all about Innervisions. Ian Pooley, hailing from Mainz, near Frankfurt, has a big reputation all of his own, playing no small part popularising the funkier sounds of US-heritage house in his native Germany. This release (his Innervisions debut) shows Pooley at his most thoughtful. The title track accumulates its layers slowly, opening with gentle string pulses and the deep hum of bass that creates a sense of warmth that permeates through the rest of the track. As the snare begins to clap, the strings become more metallic, the surges and oscillations intensify and momentum begins to gather. There is a lot going on and it never quite sits still. You can get lost in any one of its sounds and disappear for while, and that is the beauty of it. A track like this can be deployed at any time and in any setting and it will have its effect, and that is pure Innervisions.
As if to make sure of the records widespread utility, Dixon adds a weighty kick and some shuffling rim hits to his version to reinforce its suitability for a club setting. He also adds an extra layer to Pooley’s original, with cascading chimes pouring over the top of the other chords, further disorientating us as we slip into Pooley’s trance. The breakdown at halfway places further emphasis on the powerful reverberating bass, and provides a useful tool to work any crowd into a frenzy.
Relative newbie Baikal showed he knows how to take things deep in his debut release on Maeve earlier this year, and his more radical interpretation of Pooley’s original firmly reiterates his talents. The static thrumming of the strings is altogether more displaced, distant and threatening. While the percussion is still crisp and drives at your back, the warmth of Pooley’s original seems sub-aqueous, and indeed it is hard not to drown in its depth. This is occasionally punctuated by firing arpeggios and a more mobile bass-line, but the whole effect is more to put you off balance than it is to subdue you. It’s a wonderful interpretation, and one which I am sure could do magical things in the small hours. It certainly adds a new and valuable dimension to the release as a whole.
Despite the quality of the remixes on display (and we certainly look forward to seeing more from Baikal in the future), full credit must go to Pooley for the pure creative scope demonstrated in his original composition. As for Innervisions, they continue onwards and inexorably upwards, and this surely only strengthens their claim as one the world’s most respected record labels.