At the start of the millennium Basement Jaxx founder’s Felix Buxton and Simon Ratcliffe created a snug little niche for themselves. They had all the qualities of conventional house music with a soulful Latin twist. This, both set them apart and kept them mainstream at the same time. After fading out of the limelight somewhat in recent years with last two albums 2006’s Zephyr and 2009’s Scars they’ve now returned with this surprising collaboration. Just like the 30 year old man that suddenly demands to be taken seriously and ventures to grow a beard, Basement Jaxx have recorded an orchestral album.
The tracklist flips between segments from a recent live show in Eindhoven and new studio recordings. Unlike many similar undertakings, such as the Trinity Daft Punk Orchestra, this project consists of more than an orchestra’s take on contemporary music. The entire operation is produced, orchestrated, and arranged by Buxton and distinguished London conductor, Jules Buckley.
It’s no surprise to find that the Metropole Orkest are responsible for many of the Dutch film scores. The first half of the album is quite cinematic and at times more closely resembles an old Disney soundtrack than a Basement Jaxx record. All of the tracks are loaded with a fair degree of showy charm and the recreations of ‘Do Your Thing’ and ‘Where’s Your Head At’ certainly have a novelty appeal. You’ll probably give a sly little smile upon recognising them and marvel at the wonderful new take on these forgotten songs. Unfortunately, this doesn’t last. After two or three listens your nostalgia buzz has worn off and you’re left with unnecessarily grand versions of tracks that you’ve probably left behind years ago.
This album runs the risk of being a total outcast. It’s hard to imagine any hardcore Basement Jaxx fans banging their heads in awe to this. Similarly, lovers of the classical genre will surely snub their nose up at such an unfounded collaboration. Both the Metropole Orkest and Basement Jaxx have technically done a great job here. They’ve recreated some pop hits in an entirely new fashion, and with a considerable amount slickness, but the whole thing is just unseemly. While the project itself may not have been a bad idea, you really have to wonder who it’s for. The live show is, no doubt an impressive spectacle, but as a recording this just has no playability.