Basement Jaxx
Rooty
Astralwerks
2001
A



felix Buxton and Simon Radcliffe burst onto the chart scene in late 1998 with the wildly infectious “Red Alert”. After years of toiling in the Brixton underground the duo became everyone’s favourite dance act. Like the Chemical Brothers, they managed to appeal to a wide spectrum of fans and yet avoid accusations of “selling out”. The group proved this most ably when, in the build up to Rooty, the group politely, yet firmly, said “no” to a collaboration with Madonna.

Having used the name for their regular club night, Rooty actually originates from the albino Gorilla featured on the front cover of the album. The carnival nature of the stage show with lights and samba everywhere has been captured effortlessly (don’t be misled, they work bloody hard) onto an album that is at least the equal of its predecessor, 1999’s Remedy.

Safety in music is often considered a crime but “the Jaxx” are quite happy to refrain from pushing boundaries in favour of playing to their strengths. There is no great surprise on offer here: it doesn’t seem that they’re preaching to anyone but the converted. Their sermon, however, is still done with the feel of an aural Mardi Gras festival. Fun is an often overlooked or criticized quality to recordings nowadays, but the Jaxx instead accentuate it to the point of abandon.

The duo’s choice of “Kele Le Roc” for the LP opener and its preceding single “Romeo” is vindicated in a glorious Bollywood-esque example of pop music. The equally contagious “Where’s Your Head At?” may in effect be just a gathering of words with a few loud bits every so often but my God, what a noise! Sampling Gary Numan, it achieves what Armand Van Helden’s “Coochy” couldn’t and makes the sample flow into the rest of the song imperceptibly. The bliss drenched funk of “Jus 1 Kiss” hints at emotional involvement but surely soul-searching can never be this funky, can it?

At the end of the day it’s a question of choice. Do you look for music to thrust back frontiers or do you want it to touch and thrill you. Basement Jaxx don’t need stunts like sandpaper on needles to prove their talent, it’s spilled out here onto 13 tracks and 40 minutes.


Reviewed by: Jon Monks
Reviewed on: 2003-09-01
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