I’m a fan of the bands that have a couple of DJs / producers as regular members and they work with a wide variety of artists in one-off collaborations. I’m talking about bands like Zero 7 and Theivery Corporation. It often makes for inconsistent albums, but you usually get a few gems on every one.
Today, I’m turning my attention to Basement Jaxx. The band is Felix Buxton and Simon Ratcliffe, a duo out of London that has played and spun house music in a variety of clubs there since 1994. They released their first album, “Remedy,” in 1999 and since that time have had a lot of success, getting tracks included in some movie soundtracks (Bend It Like Beckham, Tomb Raiders) and commercials (Coca Cola, Nickelodeon) and winning the very first Best Electronic/Dance Album Grammy for “Kish Kash” in 2005.
In 2009, they released their 5th studio album, “Scars.” I have listened to other releases by Basement Jaxx and ripped a track or at most 2 off of them, but I found 4 winners on this album. The first half of this album was full of tracks that were weird, too frantic, or felt like bland Europop to me. I was disappointed. But then the second half of the album came on strong.
- A Possibility (feat Amp Fiddler) – The haunting guitar riff at the heart of this song may have been sampled from some 60s R&B love song and the vocal performance is just right for that. The complicated production around the key elements keeps it interesting to the ear.
- Stay Close (feat Lisa Kekuala) – The minimalist percussion and instrumentation in this song is a little strange, but Kekuala’s vocal performance anchors the track and the overall effect is beautiful.
- D.I.S.tractionz (feat Jose Hendrix) – Vibes, strings, synth, and gentle percussion back Hendrix’s quiet vocals (sung in Spanish?) and this track is gorgeous.
- Gimme Somethin True (feat Jose James) – I had to listen to this one several times before I was sure I liked it, particularly because there is a repeating tone that sounds like my cell phone vibrating. I do like it, though. There is sort of a complex bossa nova / Europop / hip hop thing going on that ultimately won me over.
“Scars” was originally intended to be half of a double album. Instead, they released “Zephyr” as an EP immediately after “Scars.” Together, they were supposed to be one disc of mellow, ambient music and one disc of more house oriented dance music. Presumably, “Zephyr” is the mellower, ambient music. I’m going to lay my hands on a copy and I’ll let you know what I find.