Like Big Boi and Andre 3000 of Outkast, DJ's Felix Buxton
and Simon Ratcliffe of Basement Jaxx draw from the once rich and overflowing well
of the artist once known as Prince. As of 2001, he is a shadowy figure, last seen
fighting a losing battle against corporate forces and his underwhelming music.
Hard to believe, but Prince was once one of the most innovative and exciting artists
to ever come out of the mainstream.
golden patch was between 1983-1988, wherein he created an output of consistently
high pedigree, unequalled since. Part of his power was his fearlessness, his ability
to strip bits from the Beatles psychedelic period, mix it over a tight George
Clinton groove and supplant slightly out of synch female vocals over the top.
The results were frankly astounding, and, crucially, funky fun. On their second
album, Basement Jaxx takes this regal baton and runs with it. "Rooty"' s tripartite
opening musical assault ("Romeo", "Breakaway" and "SFM") revisits the site of
Prince's halcyon period, his psychedelic funky cartoon world and takes it to another
level. Immediately proving what they suggested with their debut.1999's "Remedy",
that they are one of the most vital and fun bands operating within the mainstream
If their sound has gone more purple in its tone, that has
only resulted in an improved sense of what made Remedy so universally likeable.
In part that is, the bands simplicity. Basement Jaxx still mix hooky R'n'B with
their own bitches' brew, but since their debut, they have added new flavours to
their palettes. There is the St.Etienne/John Barry vibe of Broken Dream
and Where's Your Head At? with it's License To Ill period Beasties
While these songs are successful attempts at of U-turns in
style, the meat of "Rooty", what makes it a great album, as opposed to a great
collection of songs, is the London pair's fearlessness. Even following Remedy
the band forge forward, unashamedly innovative in their meshing of sounds.
The name for the album, Rooty recalls the underground parties that
the band has thrown for their mates in deepest Brixton. Extending this idea to
the sound of the album, one listen to it and the listener is left confused, shocked
but ultimately feeling as if they have just been to a mad, invite only soiree.
Like the carnival spectacle they created with last years Glastonbury, they throw
a crazy pick and mix of (aural) delights for the listener. Aside from the warped
funk of the aforementioned tracks, they managed to produce Just 1 Kiss,
a potential future single that recall the summery, shiny Ibiza melodies of Modjo's
Lady. I Want U is a mad little elf of a track that spikes the drink of
early B52's with something very badd. Finally, Crazy girl evokes the spirit
of old school DJ Kevin Saunderson, and mixes it with a genuinely touching vocal
line and lyric. Rooty is a very special album, in which Basement Jaxx have
outdone themselves. It is the sound of pigeonholes bursting and genres melting,
and that's an excellent noise.
Review by Priya