Prior to their classical pop collaboration with the Metropole Orkest, Basement Jaxx venture outside their comfort zone began with Attack the Block, the official soundtrack to Joe Cornish's directorial debut about a group of South London teens defending their council estate against an alien invasion. Produced in conjunction with British composer Steven Price (Scott Pilgrim vs. the World), their first film score eschews their usual genre-hopping, diva-led house (ominous opener "The Block" is the only track to contain any flashes of vocals) in favor of 20 instrumentals which echo the suspense of the box office hit's storyline, thanks to a blend of piercing strings, eerie synths, and doom-laden beats. There are occasional attempts to reflect the sounds of the film's location, such as the grimy rhythms of "Tooling Up" and the thunderous dub-step of "The Ends," but Buxton and Ratcliffe are much more concerned with creating suitably tense mood pieces than any urban club bangers. Many of the brief compositions, some no more than 90 seconds long ("Just Another Day," "It's Raining Gollums"), are purely sparse incidental music which sound rather lackluster when taken outside the context of their surroundings. But the likes of "Rooftops" and "Moses Is Arrested," which intersperse pulsing techno riffs and sci-fi bleeps with more classic orchestral instrumentation, are just as thrilling whether you've seen the film or not, while the haunting "Moses: Ninja" and the Star Wars-esque "Moses vs. the Monsters" certainly fulfill the John Carpenter-meets-John Williams expectations of Cornish's criteria. Attack the Block is perhaps a little too samey to be held in the same regard as Daft Punk's Tron or Chemical Brothers' Hanna (Price's four solo classical pieces are a much-needed and welcome respite), but it's a promising first cinematic effort which should prick up the ears of any sci-fi comedy director looking for an exciting and pulsating musical accompaniment.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Jon O'Brien