Booka Shade – Movements: Decent Dark Ambient

I don’t know much about Booka Shade, other than that the duo hails from Frankfurt and that they create electronic music. But I do know that their electronic music is pretty good electronic music. I’m going to be honest though and say that while, overall, it’s good, it just can’t quite hit the spot.

Movements, the group’s second full-length album, was generally well received in electronic circles in 2006, appearing on a number of top lists. It’s easy to see why. The electro-meets-dark-ambient-beats here is cleanly produced and presented well, with a knack for precision and detail. I’m reminded a lot of Esem’s grinding gloominess, but less sinister and more relaxing. However, after listening to the record a handful of times, I just can’t get satisfied. I can’t help but feel there’s something missing.

The main point of contention I have is that it tries to walk a line between stripped-down minimalism and foot-tapping house beats. While Movements walks that line with reasonable success, the music feels like its trying to pull itself in opposite directions, toward more abstractness or more danceability. The effect is to leave a gaping hole in the center that makes you wish would Booka Shade to fill it with something, anything.

Movements does succeed on a handful of tracks where one end of the dichotomy is clearly favored. In White Rooms is almost typical club music, but with the volume turned down. The song possesses a subtle forcefulness and scale that would have been nice to hear on more of the album. By contrast, the closer, Lost High, is almost depressing in its sparseness.

All in all an enjoyable record that reaches toward greatness, but just doesn’t pull it off.

Rating: ★★★★★★★½☆☆
7.25 / 10 Stars

Further Reading:
The Music Re-View