21 September 2004

Front 242

Another dig into the vinyl vaults, another rough gem that I'd more or less forgotten about. Believe me, I've tried but it's just so stompable...

I found my Headhunter 12".


Front 242's relentlessly futuristic steel marching dream-music is perhaps even less fashionable now than it was then (though, for a few brief months in the early 1990s, you'd find people skulking around the edges of clubs in Yeovil sporting ski goggles that reflected the strobes in variously phantasmogorical ways and parachute boots that made their skinny legs look like golf clubs, a look the pretty black flames of hair dye streaking down their faces (those guys were hot in all the wrong ways...)did nothing to alleviate (i think Sandy Lyle had a set of those club covers).

Anyway, I heard the boys are about to mount a comeback...a new single and album on the horizon...

Front 242 has it's spiritual beginings in Neubauten's Mufti pummeling Bargeld's emaciated mic-ed up body on Thirsty Animal (Front 242 should have covered this) and ends with the head-down slamming of Gabba techno; the final obliteration of will in the face of the masterhit. It's body music, extinguishing music, the love/hate relationship that appeared in the body horror of Cronenberg and Ballard; it's music that wants to obliterate the self in the service of some lower-brain stemmed consciousness, music that wants to rattle and roll across the surface of the flesh, threading steel wool and wire through the cavities and chanelling the body's gurgles and groans (wrenched from sex or violence) into military precise rhythms.

It's sex-music for the non-sexual, Eros and Thanatos bashing their heads together. The life force forced through (Dylan Thomas's green fuse) and forced against the machinery of mechanisation and replacement. Sometimes it sounds like they want ot celebrate the body only to improve upon it.

Front 242 - Welcome to Paradise
(when I was 17 one of the biggest joys of my life was discovering that this was the b-side to Headhunter: "Hey poor, you don't have to be poor anymore...")
Front 242 - Headhunter V.3
(quintessential - singalong now: "one you lock the tar-get..."
Madonna - Like A Prayer (Front 242 mix)
(haven't heard this yet but...C'mon...what's not to like?)

They need some love, these boys. Undoubtedly pioneers, they released some of the un-funkiest, death-drive dance music of the time and paved the way for a legion of terrible imitators (including, in their later albums, themselves).

I hope they've found something to say after the terrible sensory deprived mistakes of their ambient remixes.


Anonymous said...

Did you get their most recent album PULSE? It combines the raw analog sound of their early material with the slick complex breaks and grooves of more recent work. Also, there is a side project called MaleOrFemale and there are 3 CDs of that (2 EPs and a full-length), available as European imports (I think Alfa Matrix is the distributor). And then there was the SPEED TRIBE DVD that Patrick and Daniel scored (digitally modified LeMans footage with a 5.1 f242 soundtrack...imagine that).



The tour is being readied as we speak....

Tom said...

A classic if there ever was one - much better than those uselss 2000 remixes! Brilliant live as well (I was lucky enough to see them play in their home town of Brussels).

Richard said...

Thanks very much for adding me to your blogroll (Tikun Olam). I appreciate the link.

ilya said...

When I think of music for "Neuromancer" I think of Front 242.

no-nonsense said...

Haven't checked but I'm certain the Madonna cover wasn't done by F242, but Bigod20 (another EBM/New Beat band).

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