Basement Jaxx vs. Metropole Orkest
- Reviewed by John Price
- Published on July 15th, 2011 at 12:26p.m.
As we've all been conditioned to know via numerous films and TV shows since childhood, orchestral music of any type hints at a certain level of 'epicness' (and no, not in the stupid internet meaning of the word, rather in the dictionary definition of the word).
There seems to have been a deluge recently of electronic acts (amongst many others) employing an orchestra to transform their songs into something special. I remember something Elbow did a few years ago for the BBC with their concert orchestra and a choir. Their music lent itself very easily to the orchestral sound. Recently, however, there have been quite a few electronic-music acts getting in on the orchestral action. Magnetic Man, the people behind several dubstep hits of the past year or so, used a small string section in a live version of Perfect Stranger. Nero did something they called their 'dubstep symphony' (with the BBC Philharmonic).
Basement Jaxx have got in on the action now, it seems. Basement Jaxx vs. Metropole Orkest is their collaboration with the Metropole Orkest (unsurprisingly), a jazzy, pop orchestra based in the Netherlands. They've used them well, converting (not covering) some of their past and present hits into dramatic, orchestral versions, including Red Alert, Bingo Bango, Where's Your Head At, and the more recent Do Your Thing, Hush Boy and Raindrops. They've not just converted their previous hits. They've included 'intermissions' in the form of violin solos and random jazz-like jams (which should be expected from a 'jazz pop' orchestra).
The songs themselves are essentially instrumental versions of the originals. No vocals have been included in most of the songs, which is a good thing as it would have detracted from the whole point of the album which is that they're using an orchestra. Where they have used vocals, they've done it in such a way that it matches the orchestra, and isn't just played out over the top of it. They've taken a few liberties with other elements as well, such as the tempo and overall rhythm of the songs which works for the most part.
Stand out tracks for me include Lights Go Down, with it's choir-like chorus and soulful singer, and the great swells and eventually climax at the end. Other greats include the extremely jazzy Do Your Thing (which is actually the closest sounding to the original), Where's Your Head At just for the sheer novelty of being an orchestral version of Where's Your Head At, and Good Luck, just because.
Even if you're not a fan of Basement Jaxx, or electronic music in general, I would still recommend the album for at least a cursory listen. It's available on Spotify, iTunes, and I'm sure many other places.