A journey into the hearts and minds of the Belgian icons with Patrick Codenys: From industrial to EBM, New Beat and more.
Belgian industrial group Front 242 were at the crest of the Electronic Body Music wave, carrying the baton from groups like Throbbing Gristle and Cabaret Voltaire, combining their post-punk aesthetic with strong backbeats, slices, samples, and ominous vocals. Their raw sound was married with strong militaristic imagery, chopped-up scenes from television, and even evangelical leanings. Finding their stride with their “Headhunters” single and Front By Front album, it proved the perfect foil for Anton Corbijn and his eye for the surreal, and took the group around the world. Subsequently, the band and their sound developed through the ’90s, and their album Tyranny (For You) ushered in an era of dense, multi-layered sounds. Without Front 242, the tones of techno that we know today would certainly sound much different.
This documentary uncovers the elements that make Belgium a prime incubator for innovations in electronic music – from EBM and New Beat to house and techno.
In fact, in this piece, Codney reminisces on a time from from ’81 to ’85 where Front 242 was not exactly favored among critics nor fans.
Although Front 242 couldn’t get Danish film director Lars Von Trier to direct a music video for their 1988 song “Headhunter,” (the video was directed by notable Dutch photographer and director Anton Corbijn instead) they did work with Trier indirectly, sampling his 1984 film The Element of Crime multiple times across their 1988 album Front by Front.
Finally – a Wax Trax documentary is in the works!
In this video, Radio Soulwax relives New Beat, the influential but short-lived fad that hatched from Belgian clubs in the late ‘80s.