Recently I was at a technology focused music industry trade show in Toronto showcasing EDM and Hip Hop, and how technology is driving this industry. There were so many incredible new innovative tools, yet I left wondering whether all this brilliantly sophisticated, yet easy-to-use software and hardware makes for better music.
Billboard’s pop charts are filled with mediocrity. Beatport’s Electronic charts are filled with EDM hits that demonstrate a lack of musicality. One panel featured two young Canadian beat makers using a program called Fruity Loops. The attendees in the auditorium were jumping out of their seats with enthusiastic adoration. Not surprising since media outlets like the influential Pitchfork had glowingly reviewed one of these artists. I found the whole experience devoid of musicality, lacking in musical sensibility, training and understanding. The most popular artists in this genre at this time are Skrillex and David Guetta. In my opinion, they could arguably be seen as noise and/or melodic mediocrity.
Thankfully artists like Basement Jaxx bring balance to electronic dance music by showcasing excellence in sound synthesis, combined with an element of satire. It is this creativity that is inspired by art, technology and craftsmanship that gives me hope that musicality is not dead in EDM.
If you are not familiar with Basement Jaxx, but you are a film lover, then the best way to describe Basement Jaxx is to liken them to my favourite filmmaker Baz Luhrmann. Both Basement Jaxx and Luhrmann exude an artistic expression of opulence, infinite imagination and push the boundaries of the craft into a realm of technicolour artistically pushing the limits of that proverbial box that society likes to use to define us to.
“Gatsby” and “Moulin Rouge” both received mixed reviews, but if you watch with attention you notice incredible detail in the costumes, sets, colours, texture, cast, sound, vision and feel. You notice musical and visual melting pots of genres and styles that delightfully make a commentary on our culture now and then. You notice juxtaposition of ideas, sights and sounds that magically weave together.
To me his films, even if critically and commercially soft, are absolute masterpieces. To me they are the soul’s expression of joy, craft, love and vision. When it comes to EDM, I feel the same is true for Basement Jaxx who create with the same type of colourful exuberance and the mélange of flavours that Luhrmann brings to film and it makes for a most interesting and innovative exploration of music.
Basement Jaxx’s new record may just go over the heads of many critics and fans and it is likely that this record may disappoint the hardcore DJ’s, PLUR adherents, and house dancers out there, but if you are a music lover who enjoys the sensory excitement of a carnival then you will most certainly love Junto.
Junto is fun, imaginative and at times absolutely delightful to listen to. What I find the most impressive about Junto is the way that the band handles topics of silliness, fun, mythical, magical, nature, ecology, spirituality, cosmic intelligence and interconnectivity. This record falls in the category of being “positive possibilities” in that it celebrates the gift of life and offers people a choice not just to connect through dance, but to connect through intention.
Singles like Unicorn, Power To The People and Back To The Wild are songs with excellent messages and innovative yet distinctively Basement Jaxx sounds. If you want to listen to creativity in this genre at its best, with lyrics that support the notions that everything is connected; if you want to listen to a place where unicorns are free and real and an invitation to come and play in nature, then Junto is the record for you.
Since 1994, Rishi Deva, founder and CEO of RishiVision and entrepreneurial coach, has empowered thousands of businesses. Rishi has an MBA in marketing and entrepreneurial studies and a BBA in accounting. He has spent nearly twenty years coaching, consulting, managing and supporting thousands of businesses from new startups to active global leaders.