This is Monster Island hip-hop. That’s the absolute best description I’ve been able to come up with, after a couple of weeks of spinning this disc on my way to work (by the way, I’m claiming I was under its influence when I got a speeding ticket this AM; I think it’ll hold up in court once I play it for ’em . . .). Kevin Martin and Justin Broadrick, the British duo behind Techno Animal, who have under their collective belt such notable noise outfits as God, Ice, and Godflesh, have created one hell of a fusion of the aforementioned noise, dark, trippy dub, and hardcore, heavy-ass rap, and I have a sneaking suspicion it’s going to drive away a lot of aficionados of any of those musical genres.
This is one of those albums you’ll either love or hate, most likely: if you’re looking for Godflesh-style metallic noise, well, the influence is definitely still there (see the speaker-destroying bass “ripples” that rumble beneath almost every track), but it doesn’t really fall into that camp; there’s some heavy dub sounds here, as well, especially on tracks like the instrumental “Hypertension” (which could almost be off of Massive Attack’s Mezzanine), but it’s just too heavy and crushing a sound to make for good pass-the-dutchie music; and hip-hop headz will go away confused, too, despite some similarities to Company Flow (which makes some sense, since El-P guests on vocals), since Brotherhood refuses to fit the stereotypical hip-hop cultural mold and imagery. This isn’t the kind of album you can really cruise the ‘hood to, unless you’re looking to kill somebody (and want to be real obvious about it).
Instead, the closest musical analogues would probably be those crazy Digital Hardcore kids over in Berlin (who T.A. have apparently worked with in the past), particularly in the way both Alec Empire & company’s music and The Brotherhood of the Bomb assault the senses. After a couple of tracks, the crackling drum tracks and churning bass gave me a righteous headache, and after a few more, I found myself not caring, but bobbing my head in time.
The whole Monster Island metaphor somewhat fits with the band’s name and supposed ideological slant, actually — Techno Animal are about a melding of machines and organics, and those wacky Japanese monster movies are about nothing but, right? Picture Godzilla with a turntable, maybe with Megalon or Gamera throwing down the lyrics, a crowd of slamming, bodyrocking proto-dinosaurs, and a monster-sized stash, and you’ve got a pretty accurate image of what this CD sounds like.