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Basement Jaxx vs. Metropole Orkest

Basement Jaxx & Metropole Orkest

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Album Review

Having previously written a piece specially for the London Tate Modern museum, genre-hopping dance duo Basement Jaxx further establish their rather highbrow credentials with this ambitious set of orchestral interpretations, recorded with Holland's cutting-edge Metropole Orkest. Co-produced with British composer Jules Buckley, the collaborative effort — which also features the 40-strong Crouch End Festival Chorus, cabaret act Le Gateau Chocolat, and regular vocalists Vula Malinga, Sharlene Hector, and the Bellrays' Lisa Kekaula, alongside the 70-piece orchestra — features 15 studio recordings of tracks originally performed at their well-received live shows at Eindhoven's Muziekcentrum and London's Barbarican. Five of their six studio albums receive the classical treatment (only 2009's Zephyr is ignored), with the bouncy vocal house of "Red Alert" (Remedy) transformed into a stirring sci-fi theme; the carnival soundtrack "Do Your Thing" (Rooty) revamped into an authentic, toe-tapping big-band number; the Motown-tinged "Good Luck" (Kish Kash) turned into an anthemic piece of symphonic rock; the playful disco of "Hush Boy" (Crazy Itch Radio) given an extra Studio 54 vibe by its layers of '70s strings, and the vocodored synth pop of "Raindrops" (Scars) provided with a lush instrumental arrangement. For an act so synonymous with the dancefloor, it's surprising just how effortlessly their material transcends to the opera houses, particularly the shouty industrial electro of "Where's Your Head At," which is just as effective when the snarling vocals and buzzing basslines are replaced by operatic choirs, jaunty flutes, and even a harpsichord solo, and the summery samba of "Bingo Bango," which is re-worked into an enchanting silent movie-style number with its oompah band horns, medieval woodwind, and jazz trumpets. The four original compositions, such as the twinkling music box, fluttering violins, and plucked pizzicato strings of "Mozart's Tea Party" and the appropriately bombastic cinematic opener "Battlement Jaxx," suggests Felix Buxton could moonlight as a classical composer in between DJ gigs, but it's the more familiar works which ensure that Basement Jaxx vs. Metropole Orkest is an uplifting, feel-good record which manages to straddle the unlikely worlds of classical and progressive house with ease. ~ Jon O'Brien, Rovi

Biography

Formed: 1994 in London, England

Genre: Dance

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

The production duo of Simon Ratcliffe and Felix Buxton released several of Britain's most respected and enjoyable progressive house anthems of the '90s and early 2000s from their base in South London. Before they met (at a Thames riverboat party organized by Buxton), Ratcliffe grooved to the deep Latin funk of War and George Duke while Buxton was turned on to Chicago house. Ratcliffe and Buxton formed Atlantic Jaxx Records in 1994 and were undoubtedly honored to count among fans of their first release...
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Basement Jaxx vs. Metropole Orkest, Basement Jaxx
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