On their new album, Germany's Terranova crew prove that the art of breaking beats is not an obsolete force in music. Drawing influence from the past, Terranova (now Edition Terranova) fuses the classic days of both hip-hop and drum and bass in what may well be the best breakbeat album in the past few years. In the spirit of past masters like the Bomb Squad (producers for Public Enemy) and Jack Dangers (a.k.a. Meat Beat Manifesto), this Berlin threesome sample and sequence chunky pieces of hot metal programming that build bridges between rock and roll and electronic dance music.In a world where the most tepid of breaks is packaged as nu skool and hip-hop threatens self-extinction, it's refreshing to see such care behind the mixing boards. Terranova, revolving around twenty-year veteran DJ Fetisch, employs various guest vocalists to add fire to its bombastic foundations. Emcees George Lister and Mike Ladd (of the Infesticons crew) both enlighten and entertain. Both "Sublime" and "Heroes" display the duo's talent as futuristic griots. Former Slits frontwoman Ari Up (now Ariane) reclaims her title as lead riot grrrl on "Equal Rights" and "Mongril," which both manage to make raga-infused breaks seem interesting again. It is Stereo MC's vocalist Cath Coffey, though, who shines brightest. Her cover version of "Running Away" (built on David J's bass line for "Bela Lugosi's Dead") is intriguing, but her take on Shuggie Otis's "Out of My Head" proves to be a surreal exercise in Ketamine logic. Eerily filtered vocals break down and reconstruct over a steady midtempo house beat, managing to sound both beautiful and frightening at the same time.
Terranova is perhaps at its best, though, when creating instrumentals. Both the straightforward opener "Concepts" and the stormy rock closer "Goodbye the Ferrari" are vicious attacks on the psyche, and that's a good thing! "Women Beat Their Men," which hits as hard as DJ Shadow's "Mutual Slump," takes the oft-sampled Dominatrix vocal to new heights of mind terrorism. Hard-hitting, deep, and pleasing, Hitchhiking Nonstop with No Particular Destination deserves a place among the classics of breakbeat science.
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