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Basement Jaxx vs. 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


Formed: 1994 in London, England

Genre: Dance

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

From their '90s singles to the more ambitious projects they tackled in the decades to come, Basement Jaxx were one of the U.K.'s most respected -- and enjoyable -- progressive house acts. While virtually everything South London production duo Simon Ratcliffe and Felix Buxton released was rooted in house, they mutated several styles (R&B, U.K. garage, ragga, Latin jazz, ambient techno) with an unmatched restlessness. They constantly shuffled the deck, all the while collaborating with an endless array...
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Basement Jaxx vs. Metropole Orkest, Basement Jaxx
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