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Booka Shade – More!

on May 07, 2010, 7:59am
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After founding the Get Physical Records label, Walter Merziger and Arno Kammermeier released Memento, their first album together as Booka Shade in 2002. On their 2006 followup Movements, the Berlin electrohouse duo inventively combined ambient and trance elements with a house groove. With their genre-blending Movements, Kammermeier and Merziger reached new levels of critical acclaim and dancefloor success, thanks to an album just as enjoyable on the dance floor as it is at home.  However, their 2008 followup The Sun & the Neon Light was more ominously brooding than thrilling. While an admirably mature effort, the largely downtempo album worked better in theory rather than in execution, as the strengths of Booka Shade proved to be in their club hits.

More!, entitled as such to reflect the duo’s desire for “more club beats,” “more emotion,” and “more melodies and more strength” is chiefly a return to dancefloor music akin to Movements. Unfortunately, the quest for emotion is usually counterproductive, as emotion often proves elusive when specifically searching or planning for it. More! is no exception, as some of the attempts at uplifting moments fall flat, rather than soar.  Two notable exceptions are “Regenerate” and “Teenage Spaceman”, both of which represent the best of classic Booka Shade.

On More!, Merziger and Kammermeier join forces with guest vocalists Dieter Meier of Yello fame and fellow Get Physical artist Chelonis R. Jones. What could have been an intriguing collaboration with Meier on “Divine” is unfortunately superfluous, cold, and nonsensical, bringing the momentum built from the stellar “Teenage Spaceman” to a grating halt. “Bad Love” fares better, however, with Jones’ vocals giving the album’s first official single an enticing groove reminiscent of the best house music of yesteryear. More! closes with the calmly beautiful “This Is Not Time”, which is largely more uplifting than the album that precedes it.

An innocuous affair, More! comes across as more of an attempt to return to further glory rather than move forward, which is understandable considering the negative reception to The Sun & the Neon Light. While an improvement over The Sun, it’s a mostly forgettable album, where everything falls into place on a handful of occasions. Nevertheless, More! is still worth a listen for those moments where the greatness of which Kammermeier and Merziger are still capable are revealed.

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