Reknowned as one of the most respected producers in the genre of dance music, Ian Pooley has been working heavily over recent years to complete a new full-length album that fully reflects his artistic development.
From his first steps into house music and his first real artist album Meridian (1998, V2) as well as the highly acclaimed follow-up Since Then (2000, V2), Ian Pooley has made his way to the very top of international producers and DJ's. Many have asked for his skillful production and remixes, among them renowned artists like Deee-Lite, The Cardigans, Yello and Modjo to name a few.
While the trademark sound of Ian Pooley has never changed, the sounds and melodies of his tracks and his songs today embrace an incredible broad range of music . Brazilian and Latin rhythms can be found in Pooleys productions as well as tasteful hints to soul, Jazz and Blues or nostalgic quotes of Detroit Techno or New Jersey House. Souvenirs shows a new kind of maturity in Ian's work.
The album also includes appearances by some of Ians most admired artists, including Marcos Valle, the Brazilian Bossa Nova mastermind and one of todays most gifted blues and soul singer, Terry Callier. Both adds perfectly to the soulful, driving compositions, making it more than obvious that Pooley's unique ability to blend deep feelings with moving grooves has reached a completely new level!
After a nice and short acoustic "Intro", the album fully begins with what many people call one of Ian Pooley's worst songs. "Hotel Boogie" is not your typical House composition. Instead, you should think of it as a fun and not-so-serious lounge tune. And not relaxing seaside island lounge, but seedy inner-metropolitan lounge. It's not a great song per se, but it's entertaining enough if approached the right way. The album then dives head first into funky, female vocal heavy House with "All About You". It's more of a toned down, less cheesy and straightforward Disco House. The next track, "Heaven" is probably the most popular song off the CD. It is a more typical funky House tune. "Stonyridge Terrace" is an interesting mix of vocal-less, traditional electronic House components and Brazilian guitar influences. It establishes the fact that Souvenirs isn't meant to be easily categorized. The album then transitions to "Sentimento," a song featuring the ever so famous Marcos Valle. It's more laid back and free-flowing than most electronic songs featuring him. There's no driving beat or heavy mixing that's typical with most of his guest performances. "Bony Batucada" is also one of the more popular songs off this album, and for good reason. It serves as a nice bridge from the two previous, relaxed songs to a more dance oriented funky House where vocals are secondary to the melody and beat. It really is an excellent track. "Me Leve" continues this, but is slightly more dependent on vocals to set the tone. It is the vocal peak of the Brazilian-influenced second half of the CD, as the last few songs begin to center more upon the beat again. "Samo Iluzija" is very funky and light House with a very addictive rhythm. I am usually not a fan of overly funky House, but since there are no overbearing vocals or pounding, repetitive beat, I find it to be very enjoyable. "Here We Go" serves as another bridge, as it is much less funky than "Samo Iluzija," but is still very light and melodic while having a steady rhythm. Then, "Distant Love" is slower paced than the previous songs and is very nice as a "cool down" track. It's a good mix between the dance oriented tunes and the laid back tracks. And finally, "Insel Passage" is just an outright amazing track. Relaxing and flowing, it is the crowning achievement of the CD. Just close your eyes, and let it take you away. At the end of "Insel Passage" is a hidden track, which is strangely in Spanish. It is probably one of the most bizarre songs you'll ever hear and the only song I've ever heard where performers attempt make trumpet sounds with their mouths. It's not a song to be taken seriously at all, but also isn't something you'll want to listen to often.
Taken as a whole, the CD leads you on a path from the funk of the metropolitan to the beauty of the natural. It really is a journey, and a distinguishable one at that. If you're trying to split it up and analyze each individual track, you're not going to get the full enjoyment out of Souvenirs. It's not meant to be that type of album. If you just let it take you where it wants, then it's much more likely that you'll enjoy the CD as much as I did. Again, it's not one of those albums where 3 or 4 singles are stuck in with a bunch of danceable filler. That's not to say that there aren't some great tracks that stand out on their own, but many of the songs work best when experienced in relation to the others. It is rather hard to compare Souvenirs to another album, as it's not a typical Brazilian House CD since it reaches beyond the Jazz and Bossa influences. Souvenirs is a radical departure from Pooley's previous works, which will turn off a lot of his fans and that is understandable. But I for one appreciate it. By that account, it's not as amazing and classic as Since Then, but certainly doesn't deserve the unfair amount of criticism that it receives either.
Least Favorite Track:
What drove me to this was, honestly, Marcos Valle. I heard "Sentimento" off of Brazilution 5.2 and liked the song - albeit felt it seemed for some reason, cliched. Still I picked it up to check the other cuts and I wasn't wowed by this. The intro is cool and there's some good house with loops like "Heaven" and "All About You". But the highlights to this cd were easily the track with Marcos Valle, the cool beats on "Bony Batudada" and "Me Leve" featuring "Since Then" vocalists Rosanna & Zelia. But after "Distant Love", there just wasn't much that hooked me to the album.
Hard to recommend since there just weren't a great deal of tracks that I didn't hit "FF". "Hotel Boogie" was an ear sore and I admittedly missed some of the quirkiness of "Since Then" with "Venasque" intro or the Joyce inspired samples on one of the other cuts. I would say wait on this and check out the highlight cuts on superior compilations like Brazilution and others that will feature the songs remixed (hopefully). Released on MOS Germany, it's not a bad release, just not particularly original.