Basement Jaxx 

Rooty (Astralwerks)

Of its contemporaries -- the Chemical Brothers, Daft Punk, and the Propellerheads -- Basement Jaxx is the most disco-oriented of the bunch. The London duo of Felix Buston and Simon Ratcliffe fueled its dynamic 1999 debut, Remedy, with a combination of pre-'90s house, '70s-era funk, and post-millennium techno. Its new album ups everything learned since then -- namely, that faster and more furious beats are good for the soul -- and proclaims a sort of sexual and spiritual reawakening within the oft-cold electronica genre.

Much of this is done with obvious glances backward. There's the faux Prince of "Freakalude" and the pseudo-gospel of "Do Your Thing," but more central to the concept is the retro feel of the album. Some of it is downright primitive by today's standards (synth beeps are glaringly prevalent), but not quite as forced as the aforementioned pair of tunes. "Where's Your Head At," in fact, is a vigorous show of club control. Rooty, though, is mostly about soul -- the essence within Buston and Ratcliffe and the sticky R&B within the disc's grooves. Nothing is as immediately grabbing as Remedy's "Rendez-Vu" or even "Red Alert," and the album eventually wears itself down with its mainstream-minded aggressiveness. Basement Jaxx aims to lift techno purism out of the basement, but you'll never confuse its club jams with those of, say, Sisqo. This is still disco music for clubbers who have no aversion to the term.

More by Michael Gallucci


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