Basement Jaxx: Junto

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Posted September 19, 2014 by in Electronica
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Rating

Overall
 
 
 
 
 

4/ 5

Details

Genre:
 
Producer: ,
 
Label: ,
 
 
 
 
Genre: Electronica, dance
 
Producer: Simon Ratcliffe, Felix Buxton
 
Label: Atlantic Jaxx, PIAS Recordings
 
Format: Digital download, compact disc
 
Time: 52:22
 
Release Date: 25 August 2014
 
Spin This: "Never Say Never," "Power to the People," "What's the News"
 

Pros:

Huge arsenal of global sounds bring bold diverse colors to EDM game; "Never Say Never" is a work of art
 

Cons:

One song, "Buffalo," feels forced and strangely disconnected with the rest of the material
 

Global sounds, progressive house propels Basement Jaxx to a higher calling

by J Matthew Cobb
Full Article

Global sounds, progressive house propels Basement Jaxx to a higher calling

In Spanish, “junto” means together. Propped using the spirit of togetherness, the UK electro duo Basement Jaxx (Simon Ratcliffe and Felix Buxton) pours their heart into Junto, their seventh studio album. It’s an assembly of global sounds harnessed tightly to a parading upbeat soundtrack of house and vivacious club music. The album opens with something resembling “We Are the World” for dance floors. “If we come together, we can do something amazing,” Niara Scarlett sings with soulful optimism before a blended kids choir powers up the feelgood chorus. As Junto plays out, Basement Jaxx rescues the many elements of underground dance culture and finds a way to re-introduce it to an EDM galaxy so oversaturated with the same copy-and-paste synthpop template.

When the album reaches its otherworld summit on “Never Say Never,” a song empowered by ETML’s vocals, dreamy synths and relaxed soulful house beats, everything else surrounding it starts to plateau easily. That’s not to say that the other material is weak, but “Never Say Never” is a craft of marvelous perfection. Trying to out-do that performance would be embarrassing. But Basement Jaxx tries anyhow: “Unicorn” is an excellent time travel to ‘90’s C+C Music Factory vibes; “What’s the News” sounds like INXS’s “Need You Tonight” sprinkled with jungle beats; “Summer Dem” borrows a Kid Creole & the Coconuts riff and plants it on something that sounds like Tom Tom Club workouts. Even on the last laps of Junto provides a good deal of satisfaction. “Sneakin’ Toronto” drops a myriad of everyday sounds – from phone rings to metal welding – into something so entrancing. Even more global sounds slip into “Mermaid of Salinas,” a song blending fiesta guitars and zesty horns with a joyous choir. Only the short “Buffalo,” a drum and bass offering mirroring the hip-hop vibes of “Harlem Shake,” sounds out of place here.

Junto may not get all the deserved pomp and circumstance that a modern-day EDM record would get. The flurry of global sounds and the mission to promote interconnectedness isn’t exactly the best ingredients to jump on the pop radar, but Basement Jaxx creates a piece of work that challenges EDM at its core. And like classic disco did before by uniting cultures as “one nation under a groove,” Junto hopes to right the wrongs of a Molly-induced culture. It’s probably the biggest creative leap in EDM since Avicii’s True.


About the Author

J Matthew Cobb

Managing editor of HiFi Magazine


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