CD Reviews - Booka Shade 'Cinematic Shades (The Slow Songs),' 'Donut'

Walter Merziger, left, and Arno Kammermeier.
Walter Merziger, left, and Arno Kammermeier. (Mso)
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Friday, March 20, 2009

BOOKA SHADE "Cinematic Shades (The Slow Songs)" "Donut" Get Physical

LAYERING RIFFS, chants, squeaks and whistles atop a clickety-clack rhythm, Booka Shade's new single, "Donut," is just the sort of track that can galvanize the occupants of a packed nightclub.

But this seven-minute techno strut reveals only one aspect of Booka Shade, a German duo made up of Walter Merziger and Arno Kammermeier. The twosome also makes the sort of music advertised by the title of its other new release, "Cinematic Shades (The Slow Songs)."

The album, available in this country as a download, surveys the group's previous forays into downtempo music. There's only one entirely new song, the bluesy "Paper Plane," but several numbers are edits or remixes. The most radical of the latter is Larry Gold's version of "Night Falls," which plays down the electronics in favor of a string quartet. Elsewhere, what sounds like real piano and actual guitar set off the synthetic timbres.

"Cinematic Shades" may not win the duo any jobs composing soundtracks, but such pieces as "Vertigo" and Trentemoller's remix of "Outskirts" achieve wide-screen spaciousness and action-flick propulsion. Booka Shade's slow songs move elegantly, even if they aren't designed for the dance floor.

-- Mark Jenkins

Appearing Wednesday with RNS at the 9:30 club (202-265-0930, Show starts at 8 p.m.

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