By his own admission, Philip Bader tried to cover as many styles as possible for this, his debut album. In the wrong hands, this could have proven disastrous, but Bader, who has a wealth of experience as a DJ, uses it to his advantage. "Whisper" is a glorious ambient track with hushed vocals and eerie textures, while "Surfing Sabine" is an irresistible, vocal-tinged deep house groove. The title track sees Bader toy with the John Roberts school of piano-led introspection, while "Shine On Us" and "When The Drunken Clown Comes Around" use time-stretched basslines and Isolee-style detuned melodies to make their mark. It may be wishful thinking for most house producers, but in Bader's hands it becomes a reality.
Bader is one of the best contemporary house producers, and he proves his mettle on Shades. "Super Bell" sees heavy drums and hissing percussion providing the basis for a seductive French vocal that insinuates itself in and out of the rhythm track, accompanied sporadically by chiming bells. "Rabbit Noise" is more upfront and functional, with tough drums and a rippling bassline underscoring slivers of trancey synths, while "Way to Mexico" follows a similar path, but the focus is on the interplay between muffled vocals and building chords. Completing the package, label owner Matthias Tanzmann also delivers a slamming, percussive take on "Super Bell".