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Front 242

Front 242 is a Belgian synth band that came into prominence during the 1980s. During their most active period (effectively ending in 1993 with the albums 06:21:03:11 UP EVIL and 05:22:09:12 OFF) they were influential to a number of other industrial and electronic artists, coining the term Electronic Body Music (EBM) to describe their music.

Front 242 was created in 1981 by Daniel Bressanutti and Dirk Bergen. The first single to be released was Principles, late in that year. Patrick Codenys and Jean-Luc De Meyer joined the group in 1982; their next single, U-Men, would be released in that year, followed by the band's first album Geography in 1983. These first releases, while cited as influential by a number of other artists in the genre, were not as characteristically strong and hard-hitting as the group's later efforts.

In 1983, Dirk Bergen left the band, and Richard 23 joined up. Front 242 was becoming the most popular musical group in Belgium; their next album, No Comment would cement the group's place in electronic music, and was the first to introduce the term "Electronic Body Music" in association with their sound. Front 242 signed with the Wax Trax[?] label in 1984, and started their first tour in the United States with Ministry.

The 1985 album BackCatalogue collected material from the group's earlier years, but their international breakthrough didn't occur until the release of Official Version in 1986, on the Red Rhino[?] Europe label, followed by their "Official Warfare" tour in support of the album. Their popularity would reach even higher with the 1988 Headhunter single and video by Anton Corbijn[?], and its accompanying album Front By Front. By this point, Front 242 had developed a style of strong backbeats, slices, samples, and ominous vocals. Headhunter is possibly one of the most popularly played and remixed songs of the entire genre.

During these releases Front 242 also presented a style and imagery which was political in a decidedly apolitical style. They would use militartistic samples, preachers and the TV as a source for inspiration, but refused to admit to having any message. As they put it, they were merely presenting the world around them as it was. Possibly due to this rather in-your-face approach, they have often been falsely accused of being neo-nazis or extreme right-wing. In fact the complete opposite is true, with them famously saying that "Neo-nazis couldn't make the music we do. They're too stupid!".

With the turn of the decade the band went through many changes. Tyranny >For You< brought the world a much denser, multi-layered sound which would push them straight into the 90s. This album, like Front By Front was a huge success and it seemed as if the Frontmen could just go from strength to strength. However it all would end quite abruptly with their next releases (originally planned as a double-CD). 06:21:03:11 UP EVIL and 05:22:09:12 OFF were brilliant releases musically and once again showed that Front 242 did not need to follow existing trends to stay fresh and original, even using a female vocalist. However at this point there were strains emerging, with the band members apparently having different artistic views about how to progress. 05:22:09:12 OFF did not even include their lead vocalist, Jean-Luc De Meyer. (The numbers correspond to English letters, spelling "FUCK UP EVIL" and "EVIL OFF".) To the disappointment of many, the years following these records would be filled with a stream of live recordings and remixes.

Recently Front 242 has been in the process of greatly modernising the sound of many old classics for their live tours, which have been a running success. The band members seem to have resolved their differences. There have even been rumours about a new release just round the corner.

In 2003 those rumours were confirmed with the release of Pulse, a new album from Front 242. It has been generally well recieved, no mean feat in such a notoriously fickle music community.

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