BASEMENT JAXX Remedy (XL Recordings)
"Remedy" is the debut long player from hotly-tipped London dance duo Basement Jaxx, whove spent the last few years crafting sought-after singles that have gradually swiftly become mix CD staples. In common with (conceptually, if not stylistically) the Homelife album reviewed below, "Remedy" has designs on being everywhere, all the time: theres no cold-shouldered purism on display here. Throughout the 15 tracks acoustic guitars snuggle up to huge, Chic-style basslines, jazz loops, string sections and raucous ragga vocals slide seamlessly in and out of the mix, the sample bucket dips deeply (even as far as including an extract from The Selectors "On My Radio" as the backbone for "Same Old Show") and theres even the odd song. Best bits are opener "Rendez-Vu", which manages to just get away with its vocoderised vocals without sounding horribly cheesy, the gravity-defying melodic acrobatics of "U Cant Stop Me" and the single "Red Alert", astonishingly up for it with a bassline apparently fabricated from elastic.
But and its a big but: I bought "Remedy" on the strength of the Jaxxs fantastic 1996 single "Fly Life", which plays like Daft Punk tricks with filters but ditches the irony to go straight to the feet, a swirling, concentrated vortex of sound. And lo and behold, nothing on this album, even "Red Alert", is fit to even choke on its vapour trail. Basement Jaxx seem to have followed a similar path to that trampled by Air last year, in that as soon as the in sound from way out goes overground the edges and extremities appear to get filed off for mass consumption, which is a genuine shame. None of which prevents "Remedy" being one of the party albums of the year, of course, but maybe it couldve been even better than that.BASEMENT JAXX Rooty (XL Recordings)
"Rooty" is the second Basement Jaxx long player, and, in line with the British dance music traditions established by The Chemical Brothers, it sees all the elements of their debut album cranked up to eleven and beyond. The slightly studied cool that permeated sections of "Remedy" has been replaced by a kaleidoscopic dayglo wall-to-wall sonic experience, a party atmosphere spilling over from track to track, taking in those same processed vocoderisms that are popping up everywhere else these days. The difference between "Rooty" and its predecessor is characterised by the samples used: where last time round the Jaxx out-clevered the listener by rifling the Two Tone parts bin for The Selecter's "On My Radio", this time around it's all Earth, Wind And Fire and Chic (admittedly with a dash of Gary Numan thrown in, if you can believe that).
Which is fine if you like that sort of thing, and at times, notably the burping carnivalia of "Where's Your Head At", it can indeed be very fine, but if, like me, you continue to check out Basement Jaxx albums in the increasingly vain hope that they'll revisit the sparse urban paranoia of early single "Fly Life" there's little here that really impresses. Although a more neatly homogenised experience than "Remedy", the feeling that Basement Jaxx are throwing a party in your lounge to which you're not invited becomes increasingly difficult to shake.