Terrestre: Secondary Inspection

Matt Cibula


Secondary Inspection

Label: Static Discos
US Release Date: 2004-09-21
UK Release Date: 2004-10-25

This album seemed like an easy one to review. Terrestre is Fernando Corona, a sound artist who was one of the originales in the Nortec Collective movement, using traditional samples from Mexican sinaloaense and banda records to create a new sort of dance music. (He also does soundscape-y compositional stuff as Murcof.)

I'm pretty familiar with Terrestre; his split album with Plankton Man still gets on light rotation here at the compound, and of course I love me some Nortec. But the promo materials led me to believe that this was a new step and direction for Corona; they claimed that this was darker, more political, more informed by the shitty world situation and the "War on Terror"; they claimed that this was some kind of revolution in Mexican dance music.

Well, I listened to it while making dinner and while driving to work and while raking leaves, and I was unconvinced. It's skillful electronic music, sure enough, but it didn't seem to break any kind of new ground whatsoever. Still with the snare drum and horn samples from complicated old Mexican records. Still with the 2/4 thump pulse. Still with no vocals, all dependent on short stabs of organ and static sounds for emphasis. Nice and pleasant and good, but not really fun or scary or groundbreaking at all.

But then I remembered my old adage: Take the Album Title Seriously. So: UPON SECONDARY INSPECTION:

It's awesome. There is more depth here. Just get four tracks in, to the well-named "Ejido del Terror", to learn that. There are enough scary technotextures here to fuel a hundred nightmares -- not that John Ashcroft hasn't already done that -- and an insistent dancefloor pull that makes it all more terrifying. It sounds like a man howling out his rage and anxiety in this crazy age. Nothing wrong with that.

Or listen to "Vaqueros del Ayer". It's 4/4 cowbell and swelling chords that vanish into the ether, and it's funky breakdowns that sound like nervous breakdowns, and it's yearning in the form of jetplanes streaking over the horizon. "Secondary Inspection Theme", upon further review, with its big bass drum heartbeat and its ghostly echoes, stops and starts like it's afraid of being put in detention. "Alushe's Night Out" has more layers than tortilla soup, blips and bleeps and accidental editing sounds piling up, a worldwide computer/media meltdown that will paralyze society forever... but at least we'll be dancing!

And then, of course, we get remixes of two of the best songs! "Ultra Tumba" is transformed by Duopanda from moody introspection into disco sexx, and Hugo Amezquita turns the portentious and traditional "Botas de Oro" into nightclub heaven. That's what I call dancing one's troubles away.

I'm glad I did a secondary inspection of Secondary Inspection. That's the corniest thing I've said lately that was also true.

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