Basement Jaxx, the U.K. dance duo known for rollicking, noisy house tracks and circus-like live shows, have completed work on "Scars," the pair's fifth full-length album. "Scars" is due for an October release on XL.
The Jaxx have also recorded a second as-yet-untitled set of "Pink Floyd-y, more ambient-y stuff," according to Felix Burton, one half of the pair. "That's going to come out as probably a mini LP afterwards," he says, "more for bath-time music."
Buxton and his musical partner, Simon Ratcliffe, took a slightly different approach to the recording of "Scars" than previous efforts. Instead of holing up in the their London studio, "we went to Berlin and New York, that was just to not be in Brixton and go out into the world a bit," Buxton told Billboard.com during a break in the final mixing of the record.
Along the way, the Jaxx picked up some new vocalists and collaborators. "I wanted to record Yoko Ono," Buxton said. "That was the reason we went out there [to New York], and then Yo! Majesty and Santigold fell into place along with that." Other guests on the record include new Blue Eyed Soul boys Eli "Paperboy" Reed and Sam Sparro, who sings on the album's soon-to-be-released second single, "Feelings Gone;" former burlesque performer turned neo-soul vamp Paloma Faith; former Test Icicle Lightspeed Champion; and Detroit's Amp Fiddler all alongside the Jaxx' usual crew of undiscovered UK talent. "There’s always a few people from ‘round the corner," Buxton said.
The album's title track kicks off with an operatic intro before the stuttering half-time beats compete with the band's signature kitchen sink of noise. "Twerk" is an electro-laden floor-filler that riffs on "Maniac" from Flashdance anchored by a Yo! Majesty rap. "She's No Good" turns Lightspeed Champion's vocal chant into a funkified call-and-response, while "Raindrops" - the first single - gives Buxton's own vocals the Auto-tune treatment without caving to cliche. Ono lends her vocals to "Day of the Sunflowers (We March On)," while Santigold's ska-tinged track is called "Saga."
With "Raindrops" entering the British charts at No. 21, the duo spent the early summer putting the finishing touches "Scars" in between a string of headlining festival gigs around the U.K. But with the October release date looming, Buxton and Ratcliffe were deep in the homestretch last week. "I'm actually just doing a mix on the "Feelings Gone" track now, so that’s going to be done tomorrow," he said. "So it will be done this week, which is a massive relief. It’s baking hot here, and I don’t want to be in the studio anymore, and we've got gigs this weekend, so I'm looking forward to some days off at the moment."
Rest seems unlikely, as the Jaxx' traveling roadshow - which includes an ever-evolving crew of 20 or so singers and dancers - keeps rolling on. After recent tours in South America and Australia, the band is booking on a full slate of European festivals before some dates in South Korea and Japan. As for any U.S. dates, Buxton remains non-committal. "If people like the music and really get into it, then we’ll probably come," he says. "If they don't, we won't."
The Jaxx will return to the U.K. in December for a string of dates, including what they're calling "the mother of all Christmas parties" at the O2 Arena on Dec. 17.