Booka Shade impress at every turn. The mix that the veteran Berlin techno duo (producers, they want us to know, not mere DJs) have crafted for DJ Kicks on !K7 stands with the best of the now 29 strong series. Part of it is the way Booka Shade brings together a wide variety of old and new music, from ‘80s electropop standards from Yazoo (!) and Heaven 17 to familiar new tracks from Matthew Dear and the Streets to unreleased tunes from Lopazz and Booka Shade themselves. Musical eclecticism in mix CDs seems somewhat au fait these days, but it’s not mashing up that Booka Shade are concerned with, it’s the seamless creation of a sustained mood. In this they are dance music traditionalists, and remind us once again how this pure form, when handled with skill and taste, can be breathtaking, even if you’re just listening on headphones or in the car. Shortening the average length of tracks—there are 22 on this disc, most hovering around three minutes—allows the producers to take various excursions into the esoteric (Brigitte Bardot’s “Contact”) and suffuse old favourites with new life (Aphex Twin’s “Alberto Balsam”). Occasionally, these detours are inexplicable. The Akiko Kiyama/Karel Fialka pairing, with its “I saw a rainbow today” vocal and blues-inspired music, aims at Leonard Cohen but falls short, coming across as just silly. But this is the exception. Throughout, Booka Shade show a remarkable sophistication and stamp their sly, mesmerising style at every turn. Oh, one more thing, if you haven’t heard Hot Chip’s slurred, swung melancholic take on Matthew Dear’s “Don & Sherri” (it’s been floating around the Internet a bit lately), it’s almost reason alone to invest in Booka Shade DJ-Kicks.
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