Track by track with Wal­ter Merziger and Arno Kam­mer­meier

Future Music - - CLASSIC ALBUM -

Night Falls

Wal­ter: “Our first al­bum [ Me­mento] was very in­tro­verted, small and in­ti­mate – when we played it out on stage it wasn’t en­er­getic enough. So now we wanted to do mu­sic that was more riff-ori­en­tated and an­themic, where the chords were big, but not the sound. On this al­bum we played big chords, but with very small el­e­ments. You can hear it in the mid­dle part of Night Falls. It’s a classic Wag­ne­r­ian ap­proach. You could play it with brass!

“We’d take a small syn­the­siser plugin and play it with a kind of or­gan sound. We al­ways tried not to ‘blow up’ the mu­sic, as it was in the trance world. We tried to get rid of all nor­mal re­verbs and de­lays, and con­cen­trate on groove and at­mo­sphere.”

Body Lan­guage (In­ter­pre­ta­tion)

Wal­ter: “We didn’t want to put the orig­i­nal ver­sion on the al­bum – it was too dancey, and it was al­ready a big tune in 2005/6. It didn’t make any sense to put the known ver­sion on, so we did some­thing with a dif­fer­ent ap­proach. It be­came more bro­ken beat, acous­tic, and took a dif­fer­ent an­gle. The jazz guitar is from an early sam­ple bank. Then we had a ques­tion and an­swer­ing thing be­tween the bassline and the guitar.” Arno: “At the time we were re­ally crazy about ‘story-telling’ basslines. We’d take a bass, which would nor­mally be in the bot­tom and back­ground, and make it a very dom­i­nant el­e­ment in a song. We found that very at­trac­tive.

“It also re­flects the orig­i­nal Body Lan­guage sound aes­thetic some­how, but now in a more re­laxed way.”

Pa­per Moon

Wal­ter: “It starts with a bar at­mo­sphere. It’s a sound ef­fects record that comes from Arno’s fa­ther’s vinyl col­lec­tion.” Arno: “We wanted some­thing more deep and easy to lis­ten to – more depth, more sonic depth. It was all about more lay­ers or sound.

“It made sense to put it here on the al­bum as Pa­per Moon speaks a sim­i­lar mu­si­cal lan­guage to Body

Lan­guage. The last two months or so of pro­duc­tion were only spent on the track list – how we blend best from one track to an­other so it’s a jour­ney. The en­tire al­bum is one.

“Now we step away from do­ing in­ter­ludes and spend­ing so much time on tran­si­tions as peo­ple can buy just one song th­ese days.”

The Birds And The Beats/ At The Win­dow

Arno: “Ah, yes – the beau­ti­ful piano.”

Wal­ter: “This was in­spired by Her­bie Han­cock’s [1983 elec­tro jazz fu­sion smash] Rockit. [La­bel mates] The M.A.N.D.Y. guys would play it and say, ‘Lis­ten. It’s still so fresh!’. That in­spired us to do some­thing crazy, and a bit more weirdo-like, with just sounds and a bro­ken beat and funk.

“I think this song is a com­bi­na­tion of a lot of sam­ples from all kinds of records. There’s a vo­cal in there as well, but I can’t tell where it came from. Maybe YouTube?”

Arno: “Be­cause we were big fans of cin­e­matic sound­scapes we added this piano outro, with th­ese play­ground noises and field record­ings over the top. It gives the whole thing a bit more of a cin­e­matic style and vibe.”


Wal­ter: “We didn’t want th­ese big, noisy sounds. Ev­ery­thing on this track is very stripped to the core, and it all comes from daHor­net – this lit­tle five buck plugin. It’s an em­u­la­tion of the Wasp – it has that spe­cial sound, full of char­ac­ter. It was a brand new plugin and was very in­spir­ing to play around with that lit­tle box.”

Arno: “Wal­ter played the track to me for the first time in our ho­tel be­fore a show at Benicàs­sim. We played it there for the first time on the beach. It was a great live track. It’s a straight­for­ward sound, not very com­mon in mu­sic now. It has a more verse/re­frain ar­range­ment. We were wor­ried that it could be too poppy. It be­came a fan an­them, though.”

Pong Pang

Wal­ter: “This was the hard­est track to do. It was just hours and hours of chop­ping around marim­bas – it’s more or less marimba sounds, but in all kinds of ways. At that time we’d play the orig­i­nal sound, put re­verb on it, re­verse it, re­verse it again, then add it to the orig­i­nal sound a bit early so the sound flies in all the time – it was quite nice.

“There was so much marimba and crazi­ness in there, we had to add some­thing to straighten it out, which is why you have this lit­tle bassline sound. That gives it a bit more of a techno feel.”

Arno: “Punky. It has a punky at­ti­tude. That was a lot of fun to play live.”

Man­darine Girl (Al­bum Ver­sion)

Arno: “This pretty much re­flects the en­ergy of ’90s club­bing, es­pe­cially in

Frank­furt at Sven Väth’s club, The Omen. We spent great times there.

“We tried to trans­port the en­ergy of those rave times into this song with the ma­jes­tic chords.”

Wal­ter: “It’s a ’90s trance an­them. It’s a su­per sim­ple riff, then we tried to make it in­ter­est­ing, and not just use an arpeg­gia­tor and play it like a trance pro­ducer would.

“We were huge fans of James Holden’s remixes – The Sky Was Pink and Sa­fari are out­stand­ing tunes, with this very noisy but trancey pro­duc­tion style, and we loved it. He was a big in­flu­ence on Man­darine Girl. I think we even sampled the main clap in this song from him [ laughs].”

Take A Ride

Wal­ter: “This track is prob­a­bly our fans’ least favourite. No­body talks about it, ever. We weren’t even go­ing to put it on the al­bum, but it fit with the other tracks around it.

“It was dark, more cin­e­matic, with at­mo­sphere. We had a feel­ing that it would build to­wards the end of the al­bum.

“We knew that we wanted some­thing more se­ri­ous, that wasn’t just nice basslines, that dives deeper into th­ese ‘doomier’ sounds.”

Arno: “There are some nice res­o­nance sounds in Take A Ride. We sent drums through a Roland SVC-350 Vocoder. In the mid­dle of the track you can hear that more metal­lic sound.”

Wast­ing Time

Wal­ter: “This was in­flu­enced by Ri­cardo Vil­lalo­bos and his al­bum

Al­ca­chofa – we al­ways wanted to do some­thing that had that or­gan sound.

“This is prob­a­bly the only track with de­lay, which is in the bassline. We didn’t cut it – it’s just run­ning on this groove. Then Arno came up with the lyrics and the melody.”

Arno: “We liked the vocoder a lot. We had a lot of it on Me­mento – just play­ing around with vow­els and not singing too much. We didn’t want to have real vo­cals on the al­bum, but a hint could be nice.

“There’s not a lot of lyrics, but it summed up our love for the club, and club­bing. You know, we are wast­ing time, but in a very nice, lov­ing, way.”

In White Rooms

Wal­ter: “You can see we are very bad A&R men be­cause we wanted to drop this from the al­bum and re­place it with a B-side called Triple Iden­tity.

“We thought it was too trancey and lame. Our man­ager said, ‘When you drop that, you have no man­ager any­more’. That made us leave it on [ laughs].” Arno: “We also thought we’d told the story of that with the riff in Man­darine Girl al­ready. We were wor­ried that it might be bor­ing to do the same thing again. “Ob­vi­ously it be­came kind of a trade­mark sound – th­ese sto­ry­telling basslines, turn­ing into riff sounds.

“The riffs aren’t four beat riffs. They have changes after 15 bars, then an­other change – it’s not sim­ple to play. It sounds sim­ple. There’s a lot of struc­ture in the bass sound.”

Hal­lelu­jah USA

Arno: “This fea­tures the sound of TV preach­ers, which is why it has that ti­tle.”

Wal­ter: “The track came from a movie we wrote mu­sic for. The di­rec­tor was a huge fan of Aphex Twin and his rule was ‘no reg­u­lar chords’, so we made weird lay­ers and crazy stuff. No real reg­u­lar in­stru­ments – mainly pure elec­tron­ics. Just Aphex Twin think­ing.

“For the al­bum we worked around that sound­track ver­sion, adding dif­fer­ent pro­duc­tion, and a choir. Then some of the bass is played, and other low bits are sounds I looped back and forth to get a rhythm out of it. Then there are sounds we used when a cable broke and we played around with that noise too. Just ex­per­i­ment­ing, re­ally.”

Lost High

Arno: “We like the idea of the end­ing of a night, and fin­ish­ing on a peace­ful at­mo­sphere. The sun comes up, and the club is over. You’re leav­ing and com­ing home. It’s that bliss­ful feel­ing that lingers on.

“For the first few al­bums we al­ways had that dreamy, fi­nal song as the outro.”

Wal­ter: “I was so proud about this end­ing that we’d done. It had all th­ese strings com­ing in. It ac­tu­ally has a lot of re­verb com­ing in. In th­ese sound­scape ar­eas it was ab­so­lutely fine for us to use re­verb, but not in dance tracks. It was too com­mon at the end.

“This track was in­spired by our last al­bum, Me­mento, as the last track was Moon­struck and it was in the same di­rec­tion as Lost High. We loved to end al­bums then with some­thing more friendly, that leads you out into the morn­ing.”

“It was a cre­ative time. The guys (DJ T and M.A.N.D.Y.) came al­most ev­ery week with an an­them. They played us records that peo­ple are still play­ing in clubs now! It was crazy. We were con­stantly in­spired. It made mak­ing mu­sic… easy. You need that to be cre­ative. It kills you when the mu­sic sur­round­ing you is dead [ laughs]. Hear­ing great mu­sic is es­sen­tial for you to get mo­ti­vated and write some­thing as great as that. There was an ex­plo­sion of great tracks, after such a long time of ‘schranz’ and bor­ing min­i­mal stuff.”

Booka Shade, fresh off their Ger­man sum­mer tour, are push­ing plenty of road-tested new ma­te­rial. Be­sides the re­cent Cut The Strings remix pack­age, Wal­ter and Arno have also dropped the Quan­tum Leap EP on the Suara la­bel.“We have learned to be more spon­ta­neous and re­lease mu­sic in a much shorter cir­cle,” says Wal­ter. “So ev­ery eight weeks there are new songs, or remixes.”An­other col­lab­o­ra­tion with UNDERHER (pic­tured above), who remixed the Booka track Con­fes­sions, is also on the cards.

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