V/A – The Tyranny of the Beat

The subtitle of this classic compilation is Original soundtracks from the Grey Area, and was released in 1991. It is a fabulous sampler for every industrial fan with a sense of history. “The Tyranny of the Beat” (a title later also borrowed by Off Beat for their series of electro samplers) gives an overview of many important industrial and electro pioneers. The oldest track is by Can, the legendary German avantgarde krautrock act who influenced many other bands on this sampler. ‘Oh yeah’ dates from 1971 but sounds surprisingly modern, I even believe to hear breakbeats! Most contributions though are from the late 70’s/early 80’s. They range from quite accesible electro pop (Cabaret Voltaire, Die Krupps) to experimental (Throbbing Gristle) to noisy industrial (NON).

The most tranquil track is the fabulous opener ‘In Flagrante Delicto’ by SPK, a wonderful moody ambient cello with heavenly and powerful female soprano vocals. There are a few well-known classics present, but also a few rarities (live tracks from Throbiing Gristle and Wire), or what to think of The Boys Next Door, the first band from Nick Cave (with a track from 1979). “The Tyranny of the Beat” is absolutely a worthwile sampler, not only for historical reasons, but also becasue it contains some great tracks. My favourites are probably SPK, Throbbing Gristle, Cabaret Voltaire, Die Krupps, Can and the underrated Swell Maps.

‘Beat presently imposes itself as the martial law controlling al expression. Music is now only music if legitimised by beat.’
‘Existing long before the total capitulation to Beat values, The Grey Area will no doubt survive the eventual Beat collapse, even as it contributes to it’.

artist: V/A
label: Mute
details: 15 tracks, 67 minutes. AGREY1