Going back earlier, these innovations can be seen as an extension of the work of William S. Burroughs and of Edgard Varèse, the first significant composer to adopt electronic sources of sound as musical instruments, and who also used overwhelming percussion including with found objects. It is perhaps no coincidence that Varese's great mark on the music world took place at the "1958 World Fair" in Brussels, where Front 242 would work a few decades later. Front 242 was created in 1981 in Aarschot, Belgium by Daniel Bressanutti and Dirk Bergen, who originally went by the name "Prothese". They were interested in creating both music and graphic design using emerging electronic tools, and reportedly decided on changing their name to "Front 242" because the name had greater potential as a subject of graphic design.
The first single to be released was "Principles", late in that year. Patrick Codenys and Jean-Luc De Meyer had separately formed a group called "Under Viewer" at about the same time. Codenys said his father received a lottery winning and shared enough of it with him so that he could buy a car, but he bought his first synthesizer instead. Contact between Bressanutti and Codenys led the two duos to join together in 1982.
Bressanutti, Codenys and De Meyer all took turns on vocals at first, until they settled on De Meyer as the lead vocalist; only recently have early recordings with Bressanutti on vocals been widely released. De Meyer also came to write almost all of the lyrics. They also decided during this formative period never to use the regular waveform settings on their synthesizers, saying instead that creating the waveform itself for each note was part of the creative process. Their next single, "U-Men", would be released in 1982, 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 to pursue graphic design full time, and Richard Jonckheere was admitted to the group as a loosely backing vocalist and charismatic stage presence.
Jonkheere was usually referred to by the name Richard 23. "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 legendary Wax Trax label in 1984, and started their first tour in the United States with "Ministry". This tour led to the creation of "Revolting Cocks" by Richard 23, Luc Van Acker, Alain Jourgensen of "Ministry" and others. The 1985 album "Back Catalogue" 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 militaristic samples, preachers and the TV as a source for inspiration, but refused to admit to having any message.
The message, admittedly, was the listener's to imagine. 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 YouFor YouFor You.
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