A Rooting Good Album from Basement Jaxx
Ever since an Australian
friend once told me what root means in his home country
I have been unable to take the word seriously. Now I snigger like a
schoolboy every time I hear it used in the most vague and unintended
double entendre. To those unfamiliar with Australian slang its meaning
is best explained in the following examples. Apparently it is crucial
to a particular chat-up line: Ever tripped over a log in the forest?
To which the expected answer is no, you then follow up with Well,
how about a root then? Or it is often used to describe a much
maligned Australian beer: Fosters is claimed to be like rooting in a
canoe, i.e. f***ing close to water.
I think you have
probably got the idea now. Whether Basement Jaxx wanted to imply a sexual
meaning or not, Rooty is certainly an album that deserves
such a title. From Prince (the original, sex obsessed, pop star dwarf)
inspired funk of Breakaway and SFM (sexy feline machine) to the straight-to-the-point
message of Get me off .
This year there seems to be a plethora of artists releasing eagerly
awaited follow-ups to highly successful albums. Often this can be a
recipe for disaster, expectations are raised so high that disappointment
is all too likely. The pressure to deliver can easily stifle the passion
and creativity once hit upon by a musician. Latest material, however,
from established artists like Missy Elliot, Air and Daft Punk has been
very impressive; all producing follow-ups of equal or greater merit
to influential debuts. So, it was with much fear that I first listened
to Rooty. Basement Jaxxs first album Remedy
was such a critical and popular success that surely another great album
was asking too much. With the above-mentioned artists all showing they
could still hack it, it was odds-on that someone would churn out a run-of-the-mill
effort and bring us back down to Earth.
Thankfully Rooty is a triumph. It will prove a truly serendipitous
discovery to those who are as yet unfamiliar with the Brixton duo. To
their fans, it will be a delight. Its such a varied mixture of
tunes that it could almost give you the feeling that you were listening
to a compilation album, except that every track is stamped with their
distinctive sound and production values. There are several stand out
moments but the rest is anything but filler. Every listen will leave
you with a different tune stuck in your head that youll be humming,
whistling or singing until the next time.
Wheres your head at? sounds like what might happen
to a blur song if Basement Jaxx got their hands on it, with a Gary Numan
sample thrown in for good measure. You can just imagine Damon jumping
around on stage singing Dont let the walls cave in on you.
For Do your thing we encounter something that sounds more
like a spiced-up version of the theme to Film 2001 with Jonathan Ross
than an average house tune.
Chilled-out Ibiza compilations are all the rage at the moment. Rooty
could be the ideal antidote to remind us that theres some dancing
to be done as well. After all, what would you expect from an album named
after the Jaxxs club night in an Irish pub in Camberwell. Get
me off , Romeo, Jus 1 Kiss, Wheres
your head at would all be pretty much guaranteed to fill the
dance floor. And thats being really picky because we are so spoiled
for choice. Probably the entire album would do the job.
A highlight is hard to pinpoint. The variation in musical styles means
that it depends on your mood as to which song most satisfies on each
particular listen. Still, if pushed, then Id go for Broken
Dreams. The wistful vocals are reminiscent of Massive Attacks
Unfinished Sympathy, but thats where the similarity
ends. It can hardly be described as a melancholic song. It has Cuban
trumpets and a sample of Costa Brava performed by Felix
de Ypacarai y sus Paraguayos. Basement Jaxx have always had a bit of
thing for the Latin sound and this is them doing what they do best.
Its hard not to let the song take you to that warm summers evening
spent relaxing in a beachside bar.
Every so often an album comes along that seems to define a period in
time. Everybody you know goes out and buys a copy. Its tracks become
as familiar as childrens nursery rhymes. Mobys album Play
was one of these. It crossed the musical boundaries so that it appealed
to house heads and pop kids and everyone in between. It was as if every
CD player in the nation had been glued up with Play inside
so that nobody could listen to anything else. Airs Moon
Safari is another prime example, becoming the prerequisite soundtrack
for twenty-thirty something dinner parties. It looks like Rooty
could be the latest album in this series; you could well be unable to
escape it. But why bother? Dont fight it. Basement Jaxx have made
the perfect record for summer 2001.