When people criticize dance music for sounding interchangeable, there's sadly a whole lot of truth to the accusation. Racism and homophobia certainly played a small part in the sort-of death of disco, but Americans ultimately just got sick of the same old shit. While there's plenty of creativity inherent in the DJ set, which has continued to nurture disco under the more specialized wings of house and techno, much of it seems stifled by short-term or simpleminded artistic goals. Laziness and unwillingness to take risks are the two biggest banes of the techno boom; even an average DJ can command thousands of dollars a night as long as the dancers stay happy. Basement Jaxx has seized upon this chink in the armor of house music. Knowing that it takes only a few novel elements to stick out from the homogenous crowd of disco anthem-generators, Felix Buxton and Simon Ratcliffe have gone all out to do for house music what Daft Punk did for, well, house music. Calling its music "punk garage"—a term obviously ripe with meaning for Buxton and Ratcliffe, perhaps meaningful for avid trainspotters, and utterly meaningless to the layman—Basement Jaxx takes the basic four-on-the-floor house-music template and turns it on itself. The duo's self-proclaimed "remedy" is nowhere near as revolutionary as the hype would insinuate, and Spin has already inexplicably named Remedy one of the 90 best albums of the '90s, but it does offer its distinct pleasures. In a field of mediocrity, a little effort goes a long way, and the presence of flamenco guitars on "Rendez-Vu" and skittering, Timbaland-style beats on "U Can't Stop Me" help Basement Jaxx stand out. For the BPM-minded, the retro single "Red Alert" has more than enough faux funk and chic camp to keep the masses moving, proving that Buxton and Ratcliffe know well enough to think with their feet as well as their heads.
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