If you read Simon Reynolds’s excellent essay “Maximal Nation” you’ll know that, in the main, electronic music in the 1990s was “deep/dark/stark”, with some notable exceptions. One such exception was Basement Jaxx, the creative pairing of Felix Buxton and Simon Ratcliffe, forged in cult Brixton club nights. Somehow, they became a pop phenomenon, to the extent that their debut album Remedy, released in 1999, was one of my early musical purchases (My actual first? I subconsciously pestered my parents into buying Michael Jackson’s Dangerous on cassette in 1994).
Remedy had a sweaty album cover that demanded being placed face-down to avoid parental detection, and it also had a singularly obnoxious song on it that might well be seen as the forefather to Reynolds’s “digital maximalism”. “Jump n’ Shout” (see above) has a clattering house beat, incongruous wobbling and kettle-whistling sound effects, and a totally reckless parping lead synth. Did I mention MC Slarta John’s incomprehensible rapping, which vomits all over syntactical conventions?
Somehow, in spite of the panoply of competing elements (there’s even a beautiful, eastern-sounding melody buried somewhere deep in the mix), Buxton and Ratcliffe pull it off. The song is so ridiculous, you can’t help but fall for its charms. Call it the ADHD puppy that’s simultaneously yelping, biting, scratching and urinating on your leg, which you nonetheless take into your home.