Booka Shade: Movements
Get Physical

M.A.N.D.Y.: Get Physical Vol. 2
Get Physical

“Take a ride with me,” a vocodered voice intones amidst pulsating Detroit electro, a seductive invitation one readily accepts given the high caliber of Movements, Booka Shade's (German duo Walter Merziger and Arno Kammermeier) Memento follow-up. It's a singularly foreboding moment on an otherwise warmly emotive and evocative collection of genre-crossing songs. The album's most distinctive aspect is the ease with which it sidesteps pigeonholing, as the expansive 14-song set gracefully straddles multiple styles—driving tech-house, metallic electro, funk, jazz, broken beat, and soul—without declaring over-allegiance to any one in particular. Highlights include the spacey electrochatter of “Night Falls,” the dub-funk lilt of “Body Language,” the snappy yet exquisitely faded electro of “Paper Moon,” and the old-school clavinet-and-synths jam “The Birds and The Beats.” A sputtering synth line rubs shoulders with marimbas in “Pong Pang” and a mournful Kraftwerk motif surfaces alongside disco triplets and a rattlesnake snare lash in “Wasting Time”; with its bowed guitar and choirboy vocal, the lullaby-like “Lost High” ends the album anomalously in Sigur Rós mode. Inflamed by gleaming spirals of throbbing synths, the churning electrotrance of “Mandarine Girl” captures Booka Shade at its best.

Despite being mixed and compiled by M.A.N.D.Y. (Patrick Bodmer and Philipp Jung), Get Physical Vol. 2 , the label's fourth anniversary comp, feels more like a Booka Shade project, given that Merziger and Kammermeier leave their production fingerprints on over half of the disc's 23 cuts (specifically, tracks by M.A.N.D.Y., DJ T., and Sunsetpeople, in addition to their own). Not that that matters a whole lot, considering how homogeneous the Berlin label's sound is compared to most, a fact that in itself shouldn't surprise with Get Physical Music collectively run by its six founders (Booka Shade, M.A.N.D.Y., DJ T.). What it does mean is that the most of the 73-minute disc's material boasts a sleek electro-techno sheen but also sounds ultra-controlled, as Booka Shade reigns in any threat of euphoric abandon. While a raving cut like “Time Out” sounds primed to explode, for example, DJ T. eschews chaos for cool. Still, there's no resisting the soulful charms of Chelonis R. Jones's fleeting “La Bateau Ivre,” the electro-snarl of Snax & Ianeq's “Fill Me Up” (which evoke Prince's ‘80's Minneapolis sound), and DJ T.'s future-acid “A Guy Called Jack”; M.A.N.D.Y.'s vibrant “Say a Little Prayer for Me” and Jona's jubilant carnival ride “Yellowstone” are strong too. In addition, “Body Language” and “Mandarine Girl” naturally re-appear, in tandem with Booka Shade's panoramic “Friend for a Night” and “Shimmer.” Movements and Get Physical Vol. 2 are so delectably chilled that, even at their most propulsive (the house epic “In White Rooms”), you may be more inclined to absorb their twilight grooves from your coziest couch.

July 2006