Words: Leo Varona
When Booka Shade released their album Movements 10 (a celebration of the tenth year anniversary of their debut album Movements), you couldn’t help but sense that the pair were contemplating the final days of their illustrious career. And why blame them; for over 10 years they have been highly influential in the evolution of electronic music, stamping their unique brand of tech and electro house, with tracks like In White Rooms, Body Language, and Mandarin Girl setting dancefloors alight the world over. Not only this, they co-founded the Get Physical Music record label (together with M.A.N.D.Y., Thomas ‘DJ T.’ Koch and Peter Hayo) which became a musical platform for a number of big name electronic music maestros including: Trentemøller, Damian Lazarus, and Patrice Bäumel. In their own admission Booka Shade indicated that Movements 10 was “the ultimate closure of a chapter, in which everything had been said and done in the realms of a trademark tech house & electro house sound the project had invented and made popular across the globe.”
So now that this new Booka Shade album has dropped, it comes as no surprise that it is not what you would have normally expected from a Booka Shade production. It is discernibly more rooted in pop music, but not the bubble gum, dispensable fluff that we hear ubiquitously, it is more mature, contemporary, and exudes a sense of longevity that is reflective of Booka Shade’s talent as innovative music producers. Those who have been following Booka Shade from the beginning, may not be necessarily surprised with this album, as they may have known that the pair formed a new-wave pop band in the early 90s; and indeed some of those sensibilities are evident in Galvany Street. Take for instance the super infectious Babylon, featuring the vocals of Craig Walker. The super cool basslines and upbeat tempo, along with Walker’s laid back vocals almost gives it a Gorillaz type vibe, but just a bit more dancey.
But Galvany Street is far from just your run of the mill pop album. The dark, almost sinister, vibe of All Falls Down, the electro ballad of Magnolia, and the uplifting and inspirational Eyes Open, give the album so much depth and varied textures that at times you get lost in it all and succumb to the genius responsible for this album.
However the album highlight has to be the super sleek and sexy Broken Skin that feature the seductive vocals of Daniel Spencer and one of the coolest track breakdown that you’ll hear for some time. Even the masterful electro pop Loneliest Boy is hard to overlook, with its irresistible bassline and a chorus that just begs to be sung along to.
Booka Shade may have closed one chapter, but Galvany Street shows that the book is far from over. You also get a sense that they are relishing in this fresh start, a way to hark back at their initial days, but at the same time make an impact in the current pop music landscape. There is no denying the talent of Booka Shade, and whilst electronic music fans may be grieving in this new direction, it is a wonderful opportunity to be part of a pop music genre evolution.