Front 242… a (long-lived) obsession back in my late 20’s. This particular show at the Avalon in Hollywood featured a sick visual accompaniment to this legendary Belgium band’s aggressive EBM soundtrack. I actually spoke with the videographer after the show and expressed my esteemed gratitude for his / their work. This, the Catch the Men tour would be to promote the band’s last studio album. They’ve since released several other live albums, but this show was definitely one for the ages. I’ve been meaning to see them ever since…
It was a Front 242 type of morning, as you can clearly see. I’d all but forgotten about all the groovy goodies inside the 2016 release from Alfa Matrix titled, <Filtered> Pulse. The gold record is limited to 242 pressings, and included is a nifty poster, a postcard type thing, and the 9-track CD of the record. For a solid (gold) EBM fix, look no further than <Filtered> Pulse (also available on clear & solid purple, solid yellow & black, and solid purple colored vinyl. All colors limited to only 242 pressings.)
My fresh, new, filtered copy of Front 242’s 2003 electro masterpiece, Pulse (also the band’s last studio offering), 1) is limited to only 242 copies on gold vinyl and 2) arrived bloody damaged! I’m currently in communication with Alfa Matrix, the label, with the hopes that they’ll send out another, undamaged sleeve. I had high hopes to display this one, with it being the first time it received a vinyl release. Fingers and toes crossed Alfa Matrix makes nice!
There is a distinct level of sophistication found throughout the three tracks on Revolting Cocks’ debut 12” No Devotion that is only hinted at on Ministry releases from the same label (Wax Trax! Records) in the same year (1985). There is something much more nefarious and menacing here than say, Everyday (Is Halloween), or even Over the Shoulder (both Ministry releases, and both released in 1985). The Nature of Love (again, Ministry… you can see where my head has been lately) comes close, but is lacking that fiendish push into classic industrial / EBM territory. Perhaps No Devotion, with its three tracks clocking in at 22 minutes, benefits largely due to the fact that RevCo, at this time, was a bit of a Wax Trax! Records supergroup. Consisting of Front 242 head, Richard 23 and Luc Van Acker (surprisingly, Alain Jourgensen is isolated as Producer and not an official Cock), this preliminary incarnation of the ever-evolving band would only release one other record as a three piece, their first full length, 1986’s Big Sexy Land. After that, Richard 23 left, and Ministry mainstays Bill Rieflin, Paul Barker and Chris Connelly became official Cocks. The band would change again in 1993, then yet again in 2006, but that’s a topic for another time.
Every once in a blue moon I’ll get trapped amongst the early Wax Trax! Records releases, which usually leaves me with a raging headache and the smell of whiskey on my breath, but every time I’m more than happy to welcome the comfort of anger and disgust that inevitably comes along with some of the pinnacle releases of the industrial movement.
There was little to no doubt as to what post #242 would give prominence to. My only fear was that I wouldn’t be back from Wisconsin in time to snap the appropriate pictures to accompany this particularly numbered entry. For nearly a decade, I’ve been addicted to the self-proclaimed Godfathers of EBM or electronic body music (wikipedia calls them pioneers… I’m onboard with that)… Belgium’s Front 242.
As aggressive as they are danceable, and as rhythmically astounding as they are painfully lethargic, Front 242’s brand of industrial dance music is just the kind of narcissistic noise pollution that calms the unsettling nerves of my unbalanced equilibrium. It certainly doesn’t hurt that this rotating four-piece signed to Wax Trax! Records and, in the mid-80s, toured with Ministry (which resulted in the historic and monumental creation of the super group, Revolting Cocks).
Allmusic lists Front 242 as Pop/Rock. If Front 242 is Pop/Rock, then Willie Nelson should be categorized as Speed Metal. With heavy synths, combative vocals (when there are lyrics, which is rather rare considering their 32 year catalog), and the pleasure-secreting cloud of rhythmic percussion, Front 242 invokes the offensive aggression of punk, with the mind-numbing social-fukk-fest of Techno, for that perfect combination of salty-sweet ear food. It’s quite possibly the best form of music I’ve ever had the pleasure of shoving into my head.
Sometimes, you just dig what you dig, and you could care less as to the politics involved. Front 242 knocked me out some 10 years ago, and I’m still, without any moment of hesitation, completely comfortable enjoying this blissful, unconscious condition.
The sample of, “al-Gadaffi” from a proud-sounding public speaker starts off Funkahdafi, and continues to appear (mimicking the technique of a sample scratch from a DJ) throughout the funk-infused, foot-tapping, synth-happy, unforgettable example of ear-joy that mark Front 242 as the undisputed staple of EBM (Electric Body Music). It is my humble opinion that they have yet to, and never will, become eclipsed from atop their genre-defining throne.
I’ve been listening to a lot of Front 242 lately, if you haven’t noticed.
The highlight to this EP is an ambiguous remix to Commando, ambiguous because the sleeve doesn’t indicate who remixed it and is simply titled, Commando (Remix), or Kommando (Remix) on the back sleeve. This 9+ minute track rides a hard, minimalist groove under waves of distant, and distorted fits of vocal aggression: a perfect combination of belligerent solidarity.
Although 1985’s Politics of Pressure by Front 242 is only three tracks, it comes highly recommended, as does EVERYTHING from Belgium’s finest, the illustrious Front 242.