What would you do after recording an album like Movements? How would you top it? Would you even try? After tracks as anthemic as ‘Mandarine Girl’ and ‘In White Rooms’, anything less uplifting would seem like a come down. So if you’re not gonna top it, what are the other options? Go faux fairy acoustic? Hey, it’s working for Goldfrapp…kind of. Or maybe you could try becoming the love child of Leonard Cohen and Tom Waits. Brinkmann does a pretty good job of it. Receiving the promo copy for Booka Shade’s new EP, this is what I was wondering: where would Booka Shade take their sound? Would they consolidate, make a transition, or try something radically new? The cover suggested concessions to new rave (egad—all those colours), but somehow, I just couldn’t imagine the duo abandoning their signature sound.
The result is something slightly less. The A1, the club mix of ‘Planetary Tales’, is carried by a melody heavily indebted to ‘80s synth pop like Yello and Telex hitched to a fun-loving and well-made tech-house structure with lots of dry, ping-pong beats and a heaving synth-bass line ornamented with some squiggles and whistles. It’s nice enough, but nothing special. Unsurprisingly, the dub mix of ‘Planetary’ presents more or less the same arrangement, minus the melodic hooks. It’s a serviceable minimal track. The pick of the three is the b-side, the Neon Dub of ‘City Tales’. One of the sonic features of the track is a looped hit that sounds a bit like the ring-pull on an aluminium can being plucked—in fact, this is really the only truly memorable thing about the whole EP.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing to dislike about any of the material here, it’s just that after the last note fades there’s just no compulsion to hit repeat, and when you do revisit it, well, if you’re me, you’ll just have this uncanny feeling of being underwhelmed again, at least until you hear that enjoyable ring pull noise. Is this really the same production duo that made music as hyperdramatic and emotive as ‘Night Falls’ or ‘Body Language’? I guess the guys are trying to be subtle after the bombastic excesses of Movements, but when the overall effect is ever so ‘slightly underwhelming’, you start wishing they’d indulged themselves with a regression back into peaktime 2006. Either that, or taken up the ukulele.
Buy Booka Shade - Planetary/City Tales at
Tracklist: Booka Shade - Planetary/City TalesA1 Planetary (Club Mix)
A2 Planetary (Dub)
AA City Tales (Neon Dub)
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