Booka Shade


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In search of creative cohesion after fruitless sessions and a near split, Booka Shade's Arno Kammermeier and Walter Merziger headed to Greater Manchester, England -- as a roots rock band might seek to absorb and explore its ancestry in Memphis -- to record their fifth proper album. Rather than book time at Spirit Studios, where 808 State recorded some of their earliest and best work, they went to a different facility and apparently enjoyed the experience enough to name this set after it. EVE has the undeniable edge in vitality when compared to More!, the duo's previous album, and there's much more depth and variety. It's on display most prominently in "Crossing Borders," the set's bittersweet emotional center with a guest vocal from Fritz Kalkbrenner. The album also has some of the spongiest Booka Shade basslines, as heard in "Perfect Time" and "Love Drug" (the latter of which features the only other vocal, granted by Azari & III's Fritz Helder, who isn't given nearly enough to do). Even the relatively restful moments are inspired. The creeping and sparse "Ballad of the East," a discreet highlight, is all too brief, used merely as a lead-in to the closing "Jesolo" -- a surprisingly temperate finale to one of Kammermeier and Merziger's most momentous and meaningful releases. The second disc offers EVE in DJ form. Eight of the album's 12 cuts -- along with the contemporaneous B-side "Chateau Rouge" -- are re-sequenced and continuously mixed, providing a slightly different experience with an equal level of enjoyment.

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