Booka Shade: Movements

Think you dislike techno? Don't think -- get physical.

Booka Shade


Label: Get Physical
US Release Date: 2006-05-16
UK Release Date: 2006-05-16
iTunes affiliate
Various Artists

Get Physical Vol. II

Label: Get Physical
US Release Date: 2006-04-16
UK Release Date: 2006-03-13

People who think they dislike techno should reconsider now. The most common objections to techno are that it's repetitive and has no vocals. At the moment, techno has addressed these concerns. Techno has a long and storied history, starting with the oft-quoted George Clinton/Kraftwerk collision in Detroit, and moving through Berlin, Belgium, Chicago, and England before spreading worldwide. Despite myriad regional variations, techno's dominant paradigm for years has been the tune as DJ tool. Producers made tracks designed to mix with other tracks, which resulted in DJ's like Jeff Mills and Dave Clarke often whipping through 50-track sets in as many minutes. With loops posing as songs, unmixed techno compilations have traditionally been tough listens.

But in recent years, cross-breeding in dance music has become increasingly common (DJ Z-Trip is much to credit), and influences like microhouse, electroclash, and pop music have infiltrated techno. Vocals and song structures are common in techno now, and producers have reclaimed much of the personality they once relinquished to DJ's. Techno records have also slowed from 135-140 beats per minute to a more house-like 125-130. The result is that techno records are funkier and less heady than before, and generally more accessible.

Berlin-based label Get Physical has been a big part of this trend. Its name is apt; since 2002, it has released dancefloor-friendly 12"s from artists like Booka Shade, M.A.N.D.Y., and DJ T, now all marquee names in techno. Given techno's current software-heavy, synth-based aesthetic, the potential for tunes to disappear up their own plug-ins is great. But Get Physical isn't about moving forward as it is about moving butts. While technically proficient, Get Physical records are hooky, funky, and melodic. These singles appeal to the familiar, with references to old-school techno, Italo-disco, electro, and pop music. Get Physical is about having a good time, and that's what you get with Booka Shade's Movements and Get Physical Vol. II, the label's fourth anniversary compilation.

Movements is hotly-anticipated, as Booka Shade produced two of techno's biggest anthems last year, "Body Language" and "Mandarine Girl", both of which appear here in altered form. Despite the album's unmixed nature, DJ's won't find tracks for their use. Booka Shade (aka Walter Merziger and Arno Kammermeier) structures these songs for home listening, with melodic intros and outros. Thus, this album works as such, instead of the usual collection of 12"s that techno artists cobble together and call an album. The only fault of Movements is that it is too long. The album takes a while to warm up, and the first three of its 14 tracks could have been omitted.

Once "Paper Moon" drops, though, the album gets going. The track is gorgeously delicate and funky, and recalls Electronic, that overlooked collaboration between Bernard Sumner and Johnny Marr. "Darko" is epic disco that melds the starry-eyed sweep of Giorgio Moroder's "I Feel Love" with playful melodies and a surprising flatted second riff. Playfulness is key to Booka Shade; "Hide and Seek in Geisha's Garden" and "Pong Pang" have kalimba-like melodic drums straight out of a children's movie about Africa. The latter is the album's highlight, as boopy bass bounces and burbles before joining a joyful procession of chugging synths and percussion. In general, the production is clinically clean. However, the album closes with two grittier downtempo tracks. "Hallelujah USA" is unexpectedly dark, almost apocalyptic, while "Lost High" shimmers with psychedelic flange worthy of the Flaming Lips.

The road to hell is probably paved with DJ mix CD's, but Get Physical Vol. II stands out. M.A.N.D.Y. (aka Patrick Bodmer and Philipp Jung) has compiled and mixed highlights from the label's catalogue into a must-have party soundtrack. Like any good DJ mix, the compilation eases into things, builds to a peak, and tapers to a satisfying conclusion. Its 23 tracks generally last around three minutes each, short enough to avoid stasis but long enough for hooks to register. After some tracks with bouncing basslines, the mix throws its first curveball with Zwicker's "Monkey Mood". Shuffling beats? Muttering bass? Chattering monkeys? But of course!

The mix then goes into overdrive with a series of unstoppable hip-shakers. DJ T is responsible for many of these; his productions are chunky, funky, and irresistible. His "Time Out" is (or will be) a classic, with a euphoric, spiky hook spilling over an early '90s Eurohouse bassline. As the smooth croonings of Chelonis R. Jones' "Bateau Ivre" slip in, the party reaches hands-in-air status. It's all gold from there. The mix detours through old-school acid house and more vocal numbers before winding down with seductive, loping grooves. Appropriately, the set ends with Willams' "The Arrival (Departure)", a last hurrah of bright, sparkling synths that leaves hearts happy and feet sore. Get physical, indeed.


From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.

60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

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The Best Dance Tracks of 2017

Photo: Murielle Victorine Scherre (Courtesy of Big Beat Press)

From the "shamanic techno" of Parisian duo Pouvoir Magique to Stockholm Noir's brilliant string of darkly foreboding, electro-licked singles, here are ten selections that represent some of the more intriguing dance offerings of 2017.

In June of 2016, prolific producer Diplo lambasted the world of DJ's in an interview with Billboard, stating that EDM was dying. Coincidentally enough, the article's contents went viral and made their way into Vice Media's electronic music and culture channel Thump, which closed its doors after four years this summer amid company-wide layoffs. Months earlier, electronic music giant SFX Entertainment filed bankruptcy and reemerged as Lifestyle, Inc., shunning the term "EDM".

So here we are at the end of 2017, and the internet is still a flurry with articles declaring that Electronic Dance Music is rotting from the inside out and DJ culture is dying on the vine, devoured by corporate greed. That might all well be the case, but electronic music isn't disappearing into the night without a fight as witnessed by the endless parade of emerging artists on the scene, the rise of North America's first Electro Parade in Montréal, and the inaugural Electronic Music Awards in Los Angeles this past September.

For every insipid, automaton disc jockey-producer, there are innovative minds like Anna Lunoe, Four Tet, and the Black Madonna, whose eclectic, infectious sets display impeccable taste, a wealth of knowledge, and boundless creativity. Over the past few years, many underground artists have been thrust into the mainstream spotlight and lost the je ne sais quoi that made them unique. Regardless, there will always be new musicians, producers, singers, and visionaries to replace them, those who bring something novel to the table or tip a hat to their predecessors in a way that steps beyond homage and exhilarates as it did decades before.

As electronic music continues to evolve and its endless sub-genres continue to expand, so do fickle tastes, and preferences become more and more subjective with a seemingly endless list of artists to sift through. With so much music to digest, its no wonder that many artists remain under the radar. This list hopes to remedy that injustice and celebrate tracks both indie and mainstream. From the "shamanic techno" of Parisian duo Pouvoir Magique to Stockholm Noir's brilliant string of darkly foreboding, electro-licked singles, here are ten selections that represent some of the more intriguing dance offerings of 2017.

10. Moullinex - “Work It Out (feat. Fritz Helder)”

Taken from Portuguese producer, DJ, and multi-instrumentalist Luis Clara Gomes' third album Hypersex, "Work It Out" like all of its surrounding companions is a self-proclaimed, "collective love letter to club culture, and a celebration of love, inclusion and difference." Dance music has always seemingly been a safe haven for "misfits" standing on the edge of the mainstream, and while EDM manufactured sheen might have taken the piss out of the scene, Hypersex still revels in that defiant, yet warm and inviting attitude.

Like a cheeky homage to Rick James and the late, great High Priest of Pop, Prince, this delectably filthy, sexually charged track with its nasty, funk-drenched bass line, couldn't have found a more flawless messenger than former Azari & III member Fritz Helder. As the radiant, gender-fluid artist sings, "you better work your shit out", this album highlight becomes an anthem for all those who refuse to bow down to BS. Without any accompanying visuals, the track is electro-funk perfection, but the video, with its ruby-red, penile glitter canon, kicks the whole thing up a notch.

9. Touch Sensitive - “Veronica”

The neon-streaked days of roller rinks and turtlenecks, leg warmers and popped polo collars have come and gone, but you wouldn't think so listening to Michael "Touch Sensitive" Di Francesco's dazzling debut Visions. The Sydney-based DJ/producer's long-awaited LP and its lead single "Lay Down", which shot to the top of the Hype Machine charts, are as retro-gazing as they are distinctly modern, with nods to everything from nu disco to slo-mo house.

Featuring a sample lifted from 90s DJ and producer Paul Johnson's "So Much (So Much Mix)," the New Jack-kissed "Veronica" owns the dance floor. While the conversational interplay between the sexed-up couple is anything but profound, there is no denying its charms, however laughably awkward. While not everything on Visions is as instantly arresting, it is a testament to Di Francesco's talents that everything old sounds so damn fresh again.

8. Gourmet - “Delicious”

Neither Gourmet's defiantly eccentric, nine-track debut Cashmere, nor its subsequent singles, "There You Go" or "Yellow" gave any indication that the South African purveyor of "spaghetti pop" would drop one of the year's sassiest club tracks, but there you have it. The Cape Town-based artist, part of oil-slick, independent label 1991's diminutive roster, flagrantly disregards expectation on his latest outing, channeling the Scissor Sisters at their most gloriously bitchy best, Ratchet-era Shamir, and the shimmering dance-pop of UK singer-producer Joe Flory, aka Amateur Best.

With an amusingly detached delivery that rivals Ben Stein's droning roll call in Ferris Bueller's Day Off , he sings "I just want to dance, and fuck, and fly, and try, and fail, and try again…hold up," against a squelchy bass line and stabbing synths. When the percussive noise of what sounds like a triangle dinner bell appears within the mix, one can't help but think that Gourmet is simply winking at his audience, as if to say, "dinner is served."

7. Pouvoir Magique - “Chalawan”

Like a psychoactive ayahuasca brew, the intoxicating "shamanic techno" of Parisian duo Pouvoir Magique's LP Disparition, is an exhilarating trip into unfamiliar territory. Formed in November of 2011, "Magic Power" is the musical project of Clément Vincent and Bertrand Cerruti, who over the years, have cleverly merged several millennia of songs from around the world with 21st-century beats and widescreen electro textures. Lest ye be worried, this is anything but Deep Forest.

In the spring of 2013, Pouvoir Magique co-founded the "Mawimbi" collective, a project designed to unite African musical heritage with contemporary soundscapes, and released two EPs. Within days of launching their label Musiques de Sphères, the duo's studio was burglarized and a hard drive with six years of painstakingly curated material had vanished. After tracking down demos they shared with friends before their final stages of completion, Clément and Bertrand reconstructed an album of 12 tracks.

Unfinished though they might be, each song is a marvelous thing to behold. Their stunning 2016 single "Eclipse," with its cinematic video, might have been one of the most immediate songs on the record, but it's the pulsing "Chalawan," with its guttural howls, fluttering flute-like passages, and driving, hypnotic beats that truly mesmerizes.

6. Purple Disco Machine - “Body Funk” & “Devil In Me” (TIE)

Whenever a bevy of guest artists appears on a debut record, it's often best to approach the project with caution. 85% of the time, the collaborative partners either overshadow the proceedings or detract from the vision of the musician whose name is emblazoned across the top of the LP. There are, however, pleasant exceptions to the rule and Tino Piontek's Soulmatic is one of the year's most delightfully cohesive offerings. The Dresden-born Deep Funk innovator, aka Purple Disco Machine, has risen to international status since 2009, releasing one spectacular track and remix after another. It should go without saying that this long-awaited collection, featuring everyone from Kool Keith to Faithless and Boris D'lugosch, is ripe with memorable highlights.

The saucy, soaring "Mistress" shines a spotlight on the stellar pipes of "UK soul hurricane" Hannah Williams. While it might be a crowning moment within the set, its the strutting discofied "Body Funk", and the album's first single, "Devil In Me", that linger long after the record has stopped spinning. The former track with its camptastic fusion of '80s Sylvester gone 1940s military march, and the latter anthem, a soulful stunner that samples the 1968 Stax hit "Private Number", and features the vocal talents of Duane Harden and Joe Killington, feels like an unearthed classic. Without a doubt, the German DJ's debut is one of the best dance records of the year.

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