Front 242 Pulse

So here’s the deal: Front 242 are indisputably the pioneers of EBM (electronic body music) as we know it today. For the uninitiated, they laid down some of the most essential classic industrial/dance tracks that my boots have had the pleasure of schtomping to. Their earlier material will remain a timeless influence to practitioners of electronic dance music. And let me just say — before you all write in saying I’m some staid old bastard who doesn’t like anything past 1989 — that I appreciate growth and newness from a band just fine. But just as I thought of their EP Raw and Still released in the spring, the new territory they’re growing into is a little too chill-out for our almighty Belgian dance music heroes. The energy here isn’t completely lacking, it is just so understated that the repeated repeated repeated rhythms and inoffensive synth loops become background music far too soon. Bar after bar of the same synthesised bass line (see "Reverse”) doesn’t cut it — this is 242 for God’s sake! Is it really necessary to craft entire songs, mostly instrumental at that, around one note and a drum loop sequence? And what’s with all the spacy atmospheric and trance moments? Such "grooves” form the backbone of this disc, and at the end of all 20 songs, the music has done all but leave a lasting impression. I could hardly tell where one song ended and the next began. Where’s the character? Okay, there is the odd, fleeting moment where it sounds as if things might pick up a bit, and of course, Jean-Luc de Meyer’s vocals, when they are heard, inform listeners that yes, this must be 242. They sneak in the odd freaked-out little noise and diddle around with the rhythms nicely in "One” (for one) but the pulse of this set didn’t make mine quicken. The dirge-like "Faust” rises to the top of this crop, but I’d take a repeat of "Quite Unusual” over dark and mopey any day — from Front 242 at least. (Metropolis)