Q-Burns Abstract Message and Basement Jaxx

Invisible Airline, and Rooty (Astralwerks)

Record Reviews

Q-Burns Abstract Message

Invisible Airline (Astralwerks)

Basement Jaxx

Rooty (Astralwerks)

If this were a contest, the belt would go to Q-Burns (née Michael Donaldson) for über-funky knockout punch "You Are My Battlestar," which coddles Lisa Shaw's ethereal vocals in a housey, spun-sugar groove so sweet you're likely to need a dentist appointment after listening to it. In fact, the whole of Q-Burns' Invisible Airline is prime candy, much more so than previous outings. Brixton-based Basement Jaxx (Felix Buston & Simon Ratcliffe) have always been house hedonists through and through; 1999's Remedy was pure party delight, and here, they continue in essentially the same vein, albeit with more tricks up their sleeves. There's more of a funk groove on Rooty, and less pure house, though first single "Romeo" feels like a natural extension of '99's thumping "Red Alert." Unfortunately, with its multilayered sound and colliding beat, Rooty feels like a band trying too hard. It's not that the tracks fail by any quantitative standards -- all the aspects of a winning party set are in place -- it's just that the simpler, grinning grooves of Remedy keep getting pushed out of the way in favor of wild structures and quasi-porno vocals. Is it wrong to ask for a little less showboating on a hard house release? Maybe, but Q-Burns' sonic constructions are far more palatable over the course of a full CD, while Jaxx's overripe pipe is clogged with extraneous funk and too-shiny tracks. Even in the notoriously overkill atmosphere of DJ culture, less can indeed be more.

(Invisible Airline) ***

(Rooty) **

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