Industrial strength

Originally formed back in 2012, Beat:Cancer was an initiative designed to help fight cancer through funding research, treatment, screening and care via the medium of electronic music.

To achieve that aim, the charity took onboard releasing music, running events, organising festivals and embarking on similar fundraising efforts. Those funds are then directed to worthy causes, which includes hospices, research centres and treatment wards.

Their latest effort is a CD compilation which combines an eclectic selection of artists and bands across seventeen tracks. In fact, that desire to cover broad ground is part of Beat:Cancer’s MO: “We pride ourselves on variety” they state on the sleeve notes, “in part because that’s what makes our scene in the UK so vital.”

It’s an admirable statement that’s shored up by the choice of artists on this compilation. This includes TEC favourites such as Nature Of Wires and Promenade Cinema as well as acts from the more industrial end of the spectrum, such as Matt Hart and Harmjoy.

In general, if your taste for electronic music gravitates towards industrial, EBM and darkwave, then you’ll find this album will slot in perfectly. This compilation, produced by Digital World Audio, also boasts a number of exclusive tracks and previously unreleased numbers.

There’s a glitchy electronic collage of sound greeting listeners on the opening track. ‘Kill Humanz’ by Bitman weaves in thumping rhythms and sharp-edged synth elements to provide a suitably energetic overture for the album.

Promenade Cinema produced one of the best albums of 2018 in the form of Living Ghosts (see TEC review previously). Here, one of that album’s best tracks, the panoramic ‘Cassette Conversations’, is transformed into a thumping slice of EBM Care of Cyferdine. Promenade Cinema’s essential elements are still present and correct, including their evocative lyrical imagery, but there’s a bigger canvas for the song to work on here (and ultimately one of the best remixes on the album).

US outfit Vain Machine trade in a raw rhythmic flavour of electronic music, throwing a nod to the likes of VNV Nation and Nitzer Ebb. ‘Exposed’ offers a suitably frenetic mash-up of electronics and spiky percussive fills. Meanwhile, the more ethereal tones of Witch Of The Vale offers a more reflective moment with ‘Your Voice’.

You can always rely on Nature Of Wires to bring their ‘A’ game to any compilation and ‘Shame’ certainly delivers in that regard. As ever, there’s a bold cinematic quality to the tunes while Lady B’s impassioned vocals have a simmering slow-burning drive to them (“I’m resigned to the fact that you’re wired wrong”).

Still Forever offer up gothic touches, immersive electronics and ghostly vocals on ‘Beautiful Impossible’ while ‘Heart Shaped Shadow’ from Harmjoy dips into darker waters with a more robust composition.

The dynamic rhythms of ‘Indicators Of Compromise’ by DKAG keeps things interesting at the album’s midpoint, a tightly coiled energetic effort that also throws a nod to trance.

The thought-provoking ‘Priorities (Christabel Christo Remix)’ is a timely polemic by The Luddite Collective, whose pointed political message tackles everything from the NHS to an anti-war stance. Its repeated refrain of “Where’s the money for a fair society” tops off a chilly, hard-edged composition.

‘The Discovery Of Witches’ by Mouth Of The Void takes the compilation in a more baroque direction. Its sober soundscapes and unsettling half-whispered vocals have an unsettling effect, a haunting quality that invites introspection.

Similarly, there’s a slightly disconcerting quality to ‘Monsters (Exhale)’ care of Bein-E. It’s a starker electronic affair with a simple spoken vocal element (“We can be friends as long as you don’t breathe”) that brings with it a sense of unease.

‘Violet (Crustic Remix)’ drops the album back into more industrial territory, the harsh beats setting a contrast against the echo-washed vocals.

Croona offers a more intriguing combination featuring machine-like percussion measured against electronic melodies. ‘We All Need Love’, with its choral elements and synth hooks, has a strangely hypnotic quality at work.

In all, there’s 17 tracks to delve into on this compilation, which provides a generous selection of music that’s varied enough to keep things interesting. It’s also an album that’s ultimately designed to support a cause that everyone can get behind.

Beat:Cancer Tour 2019 also sets a high bar for the quality of its CD release with a tactile matt finish and striking art design (inspired by cult anime Akira) cultivated by artist Vlad McNeally.

Beat:Cancer Tour 2019 is out now.