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Basement Jaxx vs Metropole Orkest

Fun, different and undeniably clever; but once you’ve heard it you don’t really need to hear it again.

It’s difficult to know exactly where to start with this album, so let’s start with the basics - this is Basement Jaxx working with and being covered by Metropole Orkest, a Dutch classical troupe with a Brit (Jules Buckley), to create ‘Classical or Contemporary versions’ of the band’s back catalogue.

There’s no avoiding it then: it’s a covers album, and it’s one that reinterprets old classics. The mere sound of that is enough to make anyone cringe, but with a full sixty-piece orchestra, this is more than just a joke or throwaway gesture - someone’s taking this seriously. The problem with seeing it this way, is that you’d expect to be able to recognise some of the tracks being covered.

With the exception of maybe ‘Raindrops’, it’s very hard to actually pin down what song it is that’s being reinterpreted. Maybe that’s for the best though, because then we can take this not as a pop culture ‘look how clever we are, we’re a dance act and we’ve blown our label’s recording budget’ album, but more as a serious classical piece of work.

And the compositions within are competent, it has to be said. The rehashing of ‘Hey U’ gives it an almost bossa nova tempo and swing, which is refreshing and fun, although by the time it reaches the 2:30 mark it peters out and becomes a bit of a claustrophobic mess until the finish. The remaking of ‘Red Alert’ meanwhile, sounds like the theme to an unmade Hollywood blockbuster, the modern classical approach that they promised, complete with choir.

Overall however, it just seems too much of a gimmick to work. Yes, it’s fun and different and undeniably clever, but once you’ve heard it you don’t really need to hear it again. It’s not got enough consistency in style or quality to satisfy a classical audience but it’s too obscure and foreign to hold a dance audience. It’s a musical folly.

Tags: Basement Jaxx, Reviews, Album Reviews

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