A recent release from champions of the cassette tape only format Industrial Coast, The Miillion come on strong with their hard-hitting debut The Beat Up. Fusing big-beat, hip hop, heavy and ambient guitar and well chosen samples, it’s a record (or cassette!) that is more than the sum of its parts.
Based in the North of England, Industrial Coast have an eclectic and fascinating track record of releases, and I have no hesitation in recommending you head over to the Industrial Coast website and take a chance on their ever expanding catalog of musical delights.
The Beat Up kicks off with ‘Industry Paint’—a short, sharp slice of Psyence Fiction-era UNKLE. All beats, samples, and raw instrumentation, the album lays down its intentions here in two mins and three seconds. Bass and drums driving a real groove. I’ll be honest, from this point on I was hooked.
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Shuffling quickly into ‘CTT’, another driving bass and trip hop beats track, all menace and snarl with a brass melody breakdown undercut with the lyrical attack ‘everybody talks about your boyfriend’ before quickly telling us ‘I wanna smash his f***in face in’. A recurring theme throughout the album, constant confrontation in a world that won’t leave you alone; with ‘everybody’ telling us what you should think, feel, do and say. ‘CTT’ is complete with the frustration that this causes in the nameless, voiceless and seemingly powerless.
If ‘CTT’ is a personal confrontation, then the sense of us-and-them that permeates ‘Gone Uneasy‘ is social anxiety. Complete with the warning ‘they didn’t want you spitting in the worthy wine’ whilst still admonishing the nameless as having a ‘brain like f**kin’ dogmeat’. The lyrical frustration gives way to a final minute’s coda that has an unexpected lightness of touch and beauty, perhaps revealing all is not as lost as it seems.
Interlude ‘Leslie Williams’ takes this lightness one step further and melds a dub feel over a shuffling beat, enticing us onto the dance floor, only to pull the rug after a minute and a half. Center piece ‘Stirring the Swarm’ perhaps best encapsulates the first half; a rousing call to arms against ‘Generation Profile’ and the desperation to promote yourself ’till your number one’. A challenge to the vacuous nature of our society. If all this sounds a bit, well…serious. It is. But, like comrades in arms against the worst of society Benefits or Sleaford Mods, there’s a deftness of word and beat that mean you aren’t sure whether to dance or burn down a Voting Station. Finishing to the refrain ‘No Plan B’, ‘Swarm‘ is The Milliion at their stirring best.
‘UHA’ and ‘Bad & Wicked’ kick off the second half; the former a big swirling slab of beats and distortion—calling on a sense that the composers enjoy their hip hop—the latter evoking memories of the kind of musical melancholy that Mo’ Wax at the labels’ inventive best would regularly put out.
‘Fused’ dances into view and threatens the listener with the dance floor again before final interlude ‘CWA‘ serves as a reminder that, to The Miillion, nothing is by accident. Everything matters. Everything you hear means something. It’s a kiss in the club from a beautiful stranger.
Penultimate monster ‘Tuff Whistler‘ brings everything together and never more relevant than now; an acerbic take down of the kind fragile masculinity seen every weekend up and down the country in the pubs and clubs of the UK; admonishing ‘temper temper’ to those that would seek impose their will on others.
Finale ‘Kix‘ is all hip-hop beats and driving organ before deconstructing itself midway through in a schizophrenic swirl to leave the listener wrong footed once again. It’s a fitting end to an album that leaves you wanting—like all the best records—to start again; to understand the world presented to us by The Miillion. A dark and frustrating world yes, a world of confusion, but one that has moments that make it all worthwhile.
You won’t find The Beat Up on any Best of 2021 lists, the cassette is long sold out (you can find the album digitally on the label’s bandcamp page) and the duo have yet to make their next move. But that’s OK, this duo have a promising future ahead of them and I for one cannot wait to to see where they go next.