A fight to the death atop a cable car. A sporty automobile speeding around a curving mountain road. The mad scientist's secret lair consumed by a dazzling fireball. If such images make your pulse race a little faster, then the Propellerheads have an album for you.

The British duo's action-packed debut album, "Decksanddrumsandrockandroll" (Dreamworks) fuses elements of techno with the swagger of the big, brash, orchestral scores that John Barry composed for the classic James Bond movies of the '60s. Not only do the Propellerheads thoroughly rework the theme from "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" (originally recorded for last year's tribute album "Shaken and Stirred: The David Arnold 007 Project"), their American debut also boasts "Goldfinger" chanteuse Shirley Bassey singing "History Repeating."

Of course, history has repeated itself for British groups from the Sex Pistols to Oasis, who have come to these shores arrogantly expecting to be as big as the Beatles, only to return home disappointed after the inevitable poor showing on the Billboard charts. The Propellerheads are a leading exponent of big beat, the style of techno music that's currently all the rage in U.K. clubs, but they insist they're not the next big pop trend, just a couple of guys who have a talent for constructing broad and accessible soundscapes that appeal to a general pop music audience, not just dance floor partisans. The duo was scheduled to play live tonight at the 9:30 club until drummer and deejay Will White cracked his ribs in a skateboarding accident. Instead, at the same venue, his partner, multi-instrumentalist Alex Gifford, will deejay selections from the new album at a Tibetan Freedom Concert pre-party that features the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Because it's largely instrumental and abstract, electronic dance music has always had a cinematic quality. The Propellerheads have provided tracks for three recent movies -- "Lost in Space," "Tomorrow Never Dies" and the David Duchovny vehicle "Playing God." While a traditional pop song is largely an address from a singer to a specific person, inviting you to share something, techno exists above and beyond individual appeal. Its bleeps, beats and noises function as an audio backdrop against which the listener is encouraged to perform his or her life. Think of it this way: For techno devotees, the music provides a soundtrack to the home movie playing inside the dancer's head.

Gifford and White have been followers of film music for years. They're particularly fond of the period from the mid-'60s to the mid-'70s, a time when such composers as Barry and Lalo Schifrin (best known for writing the theme to the popular TV show "Mission: Impossible") experimented by combining lush, big-sounding, classical-style arrangements with a funky undertow.

"These scores were written during a period of significant crossover among musical genres, which is not too dissimilar from what's happening in dance music today," Gifford says.

The lyrics to "History Repeating," which berate contemporary culture's obsession with novelty and now-ness, could well serve as a blueprint for the Propellerheads' music. "They say the next big thing is here," Bassey sings. "The revolution is near/ But to me it seems quite clear/ It's all just a little bit of history repeating."

Indeed, the Propellerheads argue that there's nothing unique about music anymore. Everything is built on something that preceded it. More than most outfits, Propellerheads is the sum of its influences, which include jazz, easy listening, acid house, '70s funk, disco, old-school hip-hop, electro, techno, heavy metal and more. (As well as film scores and techno, the chunky sound of hip-hop is a huge inspiration on "Decksanddrumsandrockandroll," as evidenced by the guest appearances by both De La Soul and the Jungle Brothers.)

Collaborating with the glamorous Bassey was a dream come true for Gifford and White, who both hail from the sleepy English town of Bath. The duo -- both Bassey devotees since childhood -- wrote the song with Bassey in mind, and sent a demo to her management company, even though she had previously turned down offers from various dance music producers seeking to update her sound. Months passed, and then, after many delays, Bassey finally entered the studio.

"She was great," White says. "It was well worth the wait. She was 100 percent Bassey."

Also thrilling was a recent report from David Arnold, who wrote the techno-enhanced soundtrack to the last Bond movie, "Tomorrow Never Dies." Arnold played the Propellerheads version of "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" for another Propellerheads idol, film composer Barry. "Apparently he really liked it," Gifford says. "He said that if he were to write that piece now, he would have given it the same treatment we did."

Gifford has previously worked with Van Morrison, Peter Gabriel and punk fellow travelers the Stranglers, but the duo is best known as a leading light in England's big-beat movement, which also includes such acts as Fatboy Slim, the Chemical Brothers and Bentley Rhythm Ace and such independent labels as Skint, Concrete, Heavenly and the company Propellerheads record for, Wall of Sound.

A couple of years ago, big beat began at such British clubs as Big Kahuna Burger and Heavenly Social Club as a reaction against the prevailing obscurantism and elitism of the electronic dance scene in the '90s. Big beat is essentially post-rave music shorn of its countercultural pretensions. It's music that wants to connect with members of an audience, not shun them.

"Big beat is more of an attitude than a sound," White explains. "It's for people who are tired of music being so rigid and compartmentalized, and who just want to hear good sounds. Big beat is trying to put the fun back into the party."

In many ways, big beat is a throwback to the days when a deejay's job was to please the crowd. Today, many deejays spin mainly to impress other deejays. The play list at a big-beat party isn't governed by what's new and trendy, but simply what sounds great to the dancers in the audience. Who says electronica can't be playful and accessible? "We play big, ambitious music with style and flair," Gifford says. "Our only criteria are Is it groovy? Is it funky? Are we grinning? Are we dancing?' And our only message is Lighten up, this is supposed to be dance music.' " (To hear a free Sound Bite from this album, call Post-Haste at 202-334-9000 and press 8169.) CAPTION: Brits Alex Gifford, left, and Will White are the Propellerheads, proponents of big beat. CAPTION: Like your music a little shaken but not stirred? Then the Propellerheads' latest release, a mixture of techno and orchestral scores, is just for you.