Friday, 11 December 2009
Quick Review: Basement Jaxx "Zephyr"
Oh, come on Basement Jaxx, you're spoiling us now. A mere three months after Scars dropped, Felix and Simon have unleashed ANOTHER new album, Zephyr. But how does it stand against its predecessor? I'll get to that, but first, a bit of background info...
Made during the studio sessions for Scars, the original plan was to release a double album: one disc of the lads' new direction of "soundscape" ambience, and another of the signature quirky house we've come to expect from Basement Jaxx. Felix and Simon later decided to release the latter as a standalone album (Scars) and release the "soundscape" material (Zephyr) at a later date.
So is it any good? Well, in short, yes. While we got a taster of Jaxx's new direction with Scars, it's on Zephyr that it really shines through. While the Jaxx's usual carnival of wonky guitar riffs, mashed up samples and demented synthwork are all present here, they are transformed from sure-fire house megahits into ethereal nuggets of freeform chillout. The term they love to use to describe it so much, "soundscape", is apt. Putting on one of the few vocal cuts "Where R We Now" or the fantastic jazzy ambience of closing tune "Ascension" and closing your eyes immediately conjures mental images of vast desert wastelands or lush forests teaming with life (I personally get visions of elephants in Native American headdresses having picnics with dinosaurs on a giant trampoline made of marshmallows in a reconstruction of the grand canyon, but it probably varies from person to person).
Normally I wouldn't be able to listen to an entire album of this kind of stuff without getting bored, but at only 33 minutes in length the album is finished before I do. With only ten tracks here, however, and taking into account that three of them are under two minutes in length, this could have actually used a few more tracks to flesh it out a little. Short albums are always a double edged sword. The good news is, if you don't like what you're hearing, it's not long until the next brainwave. The bad news is, if you do like what you're hearing, it's not long until it's over.
But enough of that, what do I think of it overall? Well, while it's not quite up to the standard that Scars set for it, Zephyr is still a decent listen and is worth a few listens if you're in the mood.
I give "Zephyr" by Basement Jaxx 3.75/5
Now here are my picks from the record :)
Basement Jaxx - Walking In The Clouds [right click to download]
Basement Jaxx - Ascension [right click to download]
Basement Jaxx - Red Alert (Erick Morillo & Harry Romero Dub) [right click to download]
Keep it funky,