Public Domain : Hard Hop Superstars

'Operation Blade' nutters' parping debut

Happy hardcore, bless its little glo-sticks, was never going to win any prizes for innovation. A largely Scottish phenomenon, its apocalyptically simple fusion of honking horns, screaming whistles and keyboard plonkery was confined to that section of the public who liked their techno like they didn't like their toilet roll; hard, rough, and not very long. Until, that is, now. For here are Glasgow's Public Domain, and this is their four-letter retort to those who would dare strike their genre down; a bolshy, ballsy debut that, rather than merely sound the klaxon for empty-headed club culture, scores an almighty hit for bias-blasting originality.

The result is the first "hard-hop" album; a genre-splicing kerblam of crunching guitars, "intelligent beats" and rabid MCing that's almost impossible to resist. They even managed to wrest Chuck D from the jaws of reticence, giving the surly rapper 'Rock Da Funky Beats' to grumble over, while making him sound, rather fantastically, exactly like one of them (ie, a nutter on Buckfast in Bonkers niteclub, Greenock). An impressive feat for sure, though not as impressive as the whistle-tootling parp-anthems 'Too Many MC's' or 'Let Me Clear My Throat', that with horns a-honking and keyboards a-plonking, could take on Basement Jaxx with their eyes closed. 'Operation Blade (Bass In The Place...)', meanwhile, the gleefully manic song that ate last year's charts, is no-frills hardcore brilliance in extremis.

Shaking the genre from obsolescence, Public Domain may well have made the first credible happy(ish) hardcore record. Insanity has never sounded healthier.

Sarah Dempster
8 / 10

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