Front 242

Official Version

Front 242 - Official Version ©1987 Wax Trax!/Epic
1. W.Y.H.I.W.Y.G.
2. Rerun Time
3. Television Station
4. Agressiva Due
5. Masterhit (Part I & II)
6. Slaughter
7. Quite Unusual
8. Red Team
9. Angst
10. Quite Unusual (mix)
11. Agressiva
12. Masterblaster
13. Hypnomix

For those not familiar with Front 242, this crew of Belgians originally styled themselves European "dancefloor terrorists" and positioned themselves as contenders on the industrial music scene through harsh yet danceable sound collages such as their early anthem "No Shuffle," which features distorted vocals, pounding synthesized percussion, and jagged synths. Thankfully, the group's sound grew less dissonant as they matured and could afford better keyboards, thereby decreasing the "ow, my eardrums hurt" factor.

On this, their second full-length release, Front 242 used their distinctive two-voice, pulsing sequencer approach and added a generous helping of samples (famous people speaking, not the band ripping off other artists' works ala "hip-hop") to form an excellent, cohesive album. Official Version achieves the rare feat of being simultaneously danceable and still appealing to core industrial fans. In terms of sounding like another band, the "Aggro Mix" of Depeche Mode's "Never Let Me Down Again" on Music For the Masses is the best comparison I can come up with.

Standout tracks include "Masterhit (Part I & II), a genuinely creepy song which contains the warm, fuzzy feeling-inspiring lyrics, "constricting viscous rings; around your warm body; holding you tight; holding you tight; and I feel so happy," and the well-named "Agressiva Due." The first three tracks are likewise exceptional, as is "Quite Unusual," which equates the burst of light released in a nuclear attack to a false dawn. The whole damn thing is good, if you ask me, but I'm biased—it was the first 242 disc I bought and from the first play, I was hooked.

If you find the original WaxTrax! version in a used CD shop, pick it up if a) you're a purist or b) the remastered version isn't available. Although the two extra tracks on the Epic reissue aren't essential, I prefer its better sound quality.

P.S.: A little birdie told me that this disc is great for psychedelic experiences.

Review by Jonathan Arnett

Review date: 07/1999

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