Felix Buxton and Simon Ratcliffe, the British DJ/producers who make up Basement Jaxx, have never worried about fitting in musically. Rather, they make everything fit into their music. On Remedy, their debut, Buxton and Ratcliffe rebelled against the restrictions of the four-on-the-floor house beat, incorporating many different strains of music into that genre's rigid structure. With their next album, Rooty, they didn't even bother with the house configuration, choosing instead to make a genre-free/pangenre (depending on how you want to look at it) mash-up that sounded like a satirical take on high-energy television commercials. The duo's latest, Kish Kash, goes a step further with its intensely modern, near-futuristic amalgamation of the largest assortment of styles to date.
Kish Kash plays host to such high-profile singers as 'N Sync's JC Chasez, Me'Shell NdegéOcello, Siouxsie Sioux and the Bellrays' Lisa Kekaula, while bringing attention to lesser-known singers such as Cotlyn Jackson, Phoebe and Dizzee Rascal (recent recipient of the much-touted Mercury Music Prize in the UK). With all of these collaborations, however, the Jaxx focus less on working around the styles the vocalists are known for, and more on bringing out new vocal possibilities with each. Rascal's snarls are set against a Middle Eastern melody on "Lucky Star," Kekaula screams against the up-tempo blasts of "Good Luck," and Chasez's high pitches are looped and messed with to an agreeable point of no recognition on "Plug It In."
Kish Kash's boundary-free punk attitude allows for dense layering of styles, creating a hard-to-pinpoint hybrid that is accessible as opposed to congested. Any confusion you might expect to feel upon hearing the juxtaposition of punk, soul, funk, dance, etc. is completely wiped away by Basement Jaxx's elaborate yet meticulous arrangements, leaving you pleasantly knocked out.
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