Caspar Pound passed away at his home on 30 April 2004, age 33, due to heart complications coupled with (as some reports may state), a brain tumour. It seemed fitting at this point in time to write a few words about this individual's influence on electronic dance music, particularly in UK. Pound was not, as some have suggested, a descendant of the famous and controversial poet Ezra Pound; his step-brother is Labour MP Stephen Pound and his grandfather was the biographer Reginald Pound.
The fall and rise of the late 80s acid scene was so short lived, if you blinked you missed it. Almost immediately the music fled back to the underground clubs, fermenting for a couple of years. The Madchester scene put a human (almost!) face to the ecstasy culture along with chart hits. Meanwhile, the club scene was getting on with things, albeit in a blind and yet unrestricted and carefree way. True to the original ideals, anyone who went to an underground dance club was pleased to hear underground dance music. Techno? Breakbeat? House? Trance? The terms in 1990 say, meant nothing - the population of dance attendees cared not, there was room enough for everyone. Anything went, and it did.
First of all, we have to tip our hats to UK acts of the time who were either breaking new ground or (in majority of cases) emulating the sound of Chicago and Detroit: 808 State, Nexus 21 etc etc. However, the UK appeared to have a fear of making real noise, real beats, and unadulterated and meaningless techno. By 1990/1 the UK clubs had heard the likes of Beltram, Underground Resistance, Speedy J and Frank de Wulf - electronic dance music with austere style, raw power and freedom from melody. However, they all had something in common, they were all foreign, and like their "Summer of Love" predecessors, they soon spawned a British son. Step in Caspar Pound.
Still in his late teens, Caspar Pound, along with Mark Williams, formed A Homeboy, A Hippie and a Funky Dread, releasing the classic "Total Confusion". A UK tour alongside the Plus 8 crew cemented their credibility as a known hard techno act and shortly after Pound went on to found Rising High Records, undoubtedly the most important UK techno label of all time.
The first release, in limited quantities was "Rainbows in the Sky". To say that this record took the UK club scene by storm, would be an understatement. Manic stabbing synth lines and a vocal sample culled from the cult-ish Science of Happiness recordings by Ken Keyes Jnr, this record was the definitive UK techno record that spawned a million copies, perhaps even Pound's own. Remaining an underground hit for many months, Caspar was quick to follow up with the massive "The House is Mine" series, whereupon the label took off globally and never looked back. With releases from Robert Hood and Mixmaster Morris, the label not only paved the way for hard dance but also for electronic music as a whole.
Moving into 1992, Caspar founded the Sapho label (named after his daughter) and kicked off proceedings with the brilliant "Let There be Light", penned by himself and sampling a multitude of clips from the John Carpenter film "Dark Star", from which the artist alias takes its name.
From then on the various labels, remixes and incarnations were numerous: need we mention the classic "Barbarella"? Possibly not. Pound networked quickly with the European scene, and before long German and Dutch names began to appear on the credits of the Sapho and Rising High releases. Returning from whence it came? Perhaps.
Pound's visionary qualities may have been short lived however. His ventures into the more experimental elements of electronic music (as opposed to cut and paste techno) were few and far between, even though he was known to have a love of many varied types of music, his vinyl heart lay in the hardcore, and the more hard the better: "I just want to make music that fucks with your mind" - or something along those lines. Much in the way Jeff Mills has failed to stick his neck out and investigate and pursue a series of experimental projects, on vinyl or otherwise, Pound stuck to what he knew best, almost in stasis from the point of ultimate creativity in his early 20s to his death at the age 33. A much loved character with a sharp and sometimes abrasive tongue in his mouth, Pound's legacy is perhaps almost lost on the current clubbing youth of today. I am personally lucky enough (and unfortunately old enough) to remember him as the Pioneer of the Warped Groove.
Phase 6, Scotland, April, 2005
Caspar Pound Discography
- 96 Remix
- 128 Writing & Arrangement
- 109 Production
- 2 DJ Mix
- 26 Technical
- 1 Acting, Literary & Spoken