Post #242 (AKA My Unhealthy Obsession with Belgium’s Greatest Band)

242There 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.

AgressivaAs 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).

GeographyAllmusic 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.

Belligerent Solidarity

242-frontI’m a sucker for minimalist propaganda cover art. It doesn’t hurt when the music is dismal, dark, and rhythmically unrelenting.

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.

242-backThe 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.

Wax Trax! Records Insert from 1986

Wax Trax 1986 InsertFeatured today is one of the four (possibly five) different, albeit only to the trained eye, Wax Trax! Records inserts in my collection. It emerged from the deepest, and most sobering crevasses known to man (Luc Van Acker’s Heart and Soul, aka WAX018).

Listing the catalogue at only 18 albums (only 17 that were available at the time), this insert can be carbon dated to the fruitful, yet sardonically demonizing, year of 1986. In 1986, one could rest comfortably knowing they could, at any time, order the Al Jourgensen produced (Ministry, Revolting Cocks, Pailhead, Acid Horse, 1000 Homo DJs, Lard, PTP, Special Affect) Blackouts 12”, Lost Soul’s Club for only $5. (Which, in today’s world would only yield you a pint of half & half or a smug retort.) Found amongst the seminal releases from the grandfathers of the label are four different Wax Trax! Records t-shirts, many with varying sizes and colors. Those are $7, or about the value of two stamps today.

Wax Trax 1986 Insert BackThis is the 2nd Wax Trax! Records insert post from The Groove, and unless there is one hidden amongst my Ferrante & Teicher albums, this insert from 1986 is my oldest.

That is all. Have a good Friday.

Wax Trax! Records Insert from 1989

Wax FrontCheat post alert!

Although it is my first, this will NOT be my last post about Wax Trax! Records. Presented is an insert found in my 1989 copy of Front 242’s EP, Never Stop. This was Front 242’s last release on Wax Trax!, having released such groundbreaking albums on the label such as Geography (WAX 034), Face to Face (WAX 054) and Endless Riddance (WAX 004) among several others. My affection towards Front 242, and Wax Trax! specifically cannot be explained without consulting a professional shrink. That, I am, for now, okay with.