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Front 242, "Still & Raw"

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If you are looking for "Headhunter", put in an old copy of "Front by Front" cause this ain't it.
XIII Bis Records
There have undoubtedly been a few people waiting for a new release from Front 242 with their combat boots laced up and swimmer goggles strapped on for years now. I was one of them for a while, but after seeing the band live (in the daylight) on the Lollapalooza tour, and after experiencing the redundant fodder that was Headhunter 2000 years later, I was pretty sure the best thing for the aging electronic dance music pioneers was a quick amputation to stop their catalog from bleeding to death. Now, the group has released an EP and has a full length album on the way amidst a sea of side-projects that demonstrate varied success with remaining relevant in the post-glitch landscape of electronica. Happily, Still & Raw isn't the calamity I was bracing for. The first thing to notice is that Front 242 have mellowed with age, and quite gracefully if the tracks "Strobe" and "Loud" are any indication. The pulsating beats and sing-a-long chants are gone, but 242's knack for a simple electro melody is still apparent as the synths take center stage. Front 242 have always been handy with a bass line and the same holds true for the EP opener, "7Rain." The percussion is mostly tweaked and minimal, but brings the rest of the group's sound up-to-date, while sampled beats and muted pianos bring some new timbres to the palette. Front 242 are not the innovators they once were (listen to Geography and tell me THAT wasn't ahead of its time), but they still stand above the crowd when it comes to writing real songs and crafting sounds with a fine attention to detail. Jean Luc De Meyer's thick accent will be a welcome, if nostalgic anchor for old 242 fans. It's actually fun to hear him back on top of music that he was born to sing over. There's even a tenderness in the vocal part on "7Rain (GHost)" that demonstrates an attempt to take the music to new places, and that's refreshing. There are so many bands left over, even today, that are rehashing the best parts of Official Version and Front By Front but the men who wrote those songs and gave birth to what would later be casually known as "EBM" have left most of the cliche behind. Still & Raw isn't liable to turn the heads of those firmly glued to Mille Plateaux and Rephlex platters, but It's a worthwhile effort from an old standby that warrants a listen if you were a fan and at least a glimpse if you weren't.

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Last Updated on Friday, 15 July 2005 09:46  


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