It’s been over a year since Basement Jaxx originally released Junto, their latest studio album and first after a five year break to pursue other projects. 2015’s companion piece Junto Remixed collects alternate versions of each of the album’s tracks, showing them off in a variety of different styles. While they aren’t all entirely successful, the album does feature some surprising changes and even a few improvements.
The album is still very much in line with Basement Jaxx’s usual style, never straying too far from the realm of house music and instead bringing some of the original album’s outliers in line with the rest. The changes are most noticeable on Sidney Charles’ remix of What’s the News, turning the poppy house track into a thumping classic 90s style, and Fei-Fei’s remix of We Are Not Alone, which was originally similar In style to What’s The News and instead becomes a sparkling wall of synths that creates a brilliant electropop atmosphere.
Some songs don’t take the transformation quite as well as others. Simon Ratcliffe’s minimal song for his daughter Love Is At Your Side becoming something almost entirely unrelated with Luciano’s help, going from the atmospheric original to a simple, endlessly looping beat and awkward percussive sounds that continue ceaselessly for thirteen minutes. The jungle stylings of Rock This Road become another simple house track this time, with an infectious beat being marred by awkward chirping sound effects throughout the song. The results of the remixing can often be soulless and overly long, using repetition in a way that detracts from the song, which is a major issue considering the naturally repetitive nature of house music.
There are some really enjoyable remixes throughout the album though, which thankfully balance out the less interesting tracks. Eden Prince’s reworking of Mermaid of Bahia keeps the heavy cultural flavour of its source material, adding it over a house beat that melds perfectly with the original track’s elements, and while it still feels extremely familiar when the beat drops away, the updated sections add enough to keep it fresh. Even better is Alex Metric’s work on Summer Dem, turning the solid retro pop track into a flawless house track, with the constant brass sampling and looping vocals working alongside the meaty, impactful beat to make for a huge improvement over the source material.
Remix albums can be tricky, given that opinions differ greatly on the subject; whether you’re all for a reimagining or think brilliant source material should remain untouched. A remix album for Junto makes sense though, and while Junto Remixed’s tail end in particular features some less than stellar work, there are some truly amazing pieces of work that come before it. As a whole it’s not exactly an improvement over Junto, but the alternate take on the album was definitely interesting to see. If you enjoyed Junto at all, then this is well worth your time.