Album Review: DJ Kicks - Booka Shade

Just like buses good DJ-Kicks albums are known to come in threes. Possibly. And as such it is with little surprise then to which BlackPlastic responded to the news that the latest installment, hot on the heels of Got Chip's still-on-heavy-rotation effort, is from Germany's kings of minimal, Booka Shade.

Unsurprisingly the mix on offer here is an entirely different kettle of fish. For every left turn on Hot Chip's album Booka Shade instead illustrate a smooth, considered blend.

Which is not to say there are no suprises... There are. Take Heaven 17's 'Geisha Boys and Temple Girls'. Or Yazoo's 'Situation' for that matter, coming as it does out of the paranoid fog of Booka Shade's own 'Estoril' sounding like a combination of Yello's 'Oh Yeah' and 'No Way Back' by The Adonis. It's just that these tracks are still blended in to the whole and maintain the constant, contemplative mood.

It is this contemplative mood that at one point threatens to ruin, and then saves the same mix. In the middle third a slight over-abundance of icey electro and moody minimal-techno tracks almost make things too melanchollic... The John Carpenter track, 'Arrival at the Library', overlaid with the vocals to Mlle Caro & Franck Garcia's 'Far Away' is a case in point.

Yet whenever things are in danger of getting too formulaic, or blue, or spikey the mix subtle moves off in another direction. Take Brigitte Bardot's 'Contact'. Just as it becomes too much it (somewhat begrudgingly) gives in to Booka Shade's 'Numbers'. And what a track to give in to...

Every DJ Kicks album features an original composition from the DJ and, as their first vocal track, 'Numbers' (much like Hot Chip's shimmering 'My Piano' before it) is a bit special. A moody yet slinky request for your phone digits, 'Numbers' is a love song that is not about the person being propositioned, but surely some other individual... The one that makes the vocalist want to forget. And it's contemplative again, but this time in a refreshing way. Add some strings and you've got something you'd be only too happy to pick-up on the rebound.

Of equal brilliance is Hot Chip's newly released remix of Matthew Dear's already brilliant 'Don & Sherri' (sorry, there is a theme here... It's that Hot Chip are awesome). The original maybe a wonky IDM freak-out, equal parts love-song, stalker anthem and onslaught of creepy paranoia wrapped up into a pop song package. Hot Chip pick it up and run with it and you soon have a bitter-sweet anthem and the lyrics take on numerous hidden depths as Alexis opines the lines 'How could I let you forget me when you don't even know me already?' Hot Chip's take on this song is so good, all naked vocals and twinkling melodic synth stabs, that it is an absolute no-brainer why Booka Shade passed up on label-mates M.A.N.D.Y.'s mix in favour of it here.

'Don & Sherri' and the Matthew Dear LP Asa Breed deserve their own posts they are that good. But rest-assured that as Richard Hawley's 'Last Orders' gets called you will have found much to like here. Booka Shade put in a fine effort here, convincing of their historical knowledge and programming (DJ speak for sequencing) skills. Here's hoping for bus number three.