I guess I should start by saying what a big fan I am of Front 242. From Geography to UP EVIL & OFF and everything in between. Then a couple of years ago I finally got my hands on their 2003 release, PULSE.
The track listing was very intriguing — I was excited by the prospect of entering a new world of ‘cyberpunk” soundscapes augmented by an erotic delirium of industrial proportions … something about sorcery enhanced by cybernetic implants for cross-dressing degenerates. But then I actually listened to it … and the magic was gone. I eventually ‘unchecked’ all the tracks of the album and deemed it a lost cause and failure.
Oh, the irony. Cut to a few days ago when looking to free up some space on my HD I set my sights on iTunes. I inevitably sought out the unchecked tracks — that’s when PULSE was put back on my radar. However, my sentimentality for F242 demanded I give the album another try before I forever ‘banished’ PULSE from my hard drive.
Incredibly, everything that bothered me about the album before was conspicuously absent. I’ve gone from thinking PULSE was F242’s only bad album to thinking it their best, most relevant album to date.
After much deliberation, consideration and mind-blowing sex I’ve outlined 3 things I think I did wrong in my initial attempt to ‘assimilate’ this masterstroke of mellifluousness.
1.) There is a definite and absolute continuity to the album. This is indicated by the track titles themselves. In my youthful exuberance I became ‘impatient’ with the media organism and attempted to ‘short-cut’ the spectacle. This is folly. Listening to the songs out of context puts the listener in a state of agitated confusion – the participant engaging the media organism becomes ‘lost’ and blames the host itself rather than his own ignorance. This isn’t one of Dr. Luke’s Top 40 Pop-darlings where the sequence of songs is equally valid in any permutation. Nay! (And that’s not a slam against Dr. Luke – I think he’s a wonderfully gifted producer and judge of talent.) There is a story with a plot as dense as a black hole being told in PULSE – the aforementioned transgender cyborg sorcerers. There is a progression being made nanosecond by nanosecond; front by front; man by … wo-man (?)
2.) The mood in which you ‘dose’ yourself with the media organism is equally important. As I said before, I was in an ‘excited,’ ‘rushed’ state – too eager — I was not in the correct state of mind to properly comprehend the magnitude of what was being laid out before me. However, perhaps even paradoxically, faced with the sobering task of deciding it’s fate on my hard drive put me in a more relaxed state. I was more open to its possibilities than when I was merely seeking to be entertained. The organism’s very life was in my hands! These are not moments you take lightly.
3.) Volume. You actually have to hear what it is telling you, telling us. THIS IS NOT BACKGROUND MUSIC. It’s not even “music” in the mundane sense of the word. It is an sonic archetype signaling the evolution of time — dare I say, Consciousness itself? The collapse of fixed perspective. It is a life-form born outside the imaginary limits of <reality>. Burrowing itself in the electro-tonal sound patterns of our DNA. The frequency crystalizes in our blood, shoots straight up to the pineal gland, opens the Third Eye and makes you want to dance until you orgasm … It calls us: calling all brains to the activation station. It tells us in no uncertain terms that we’re glitter in hyperspace. Glitter-space-space-space-space-space. It is a headhunter taking aim. Oh yes, The MACHINE prevails. THE GAME never looses.
A final notice before disconnect:
If not properly prepared for when the “album” “ends,” you may find yourself not unlike a junkie — dissociative, stressed and seeking your next fix which will only leave you with an increasingly diminished return. To remedy this, I prescribe Ani DiFranco’s intoxicating song “Pulse” as an alternate ‘ending.’ Simply play her song following “Pan Mihk.” The sprawling acoustic melodies and soothing female voice provides the necessary counterbalance to the alien, posthuman perspective that the PULSE album advocates. Equilibrium is thus achieved. When the event subsides you will feel refreshed, calm, content — yet you will posses the edge of an unstoppable machine. “A warlock rockstar from Mars,” to quote the delightful Charlie Sheen.
And if this is your first time hearing of Front 242 and you’re intrigued by this endorsement — heed these words — do NOT rush off and simply buy PULSE and think you will understand all I have written here. As mentioned before, F242 has an extensive back catalogue of albums. Acquire them all. Absorb them all completely. In chronological order. As an act of sorcery, comprehending F242 will take time, patience and dedicated effort. But stick with it and you will find those answers you seek. I guarantee it. At that time, go into the void, beyond the immediate vista, into the Æon — the spaciousness beyond your meannesses, beyond your borrowed precepts, dogmas and beliefs – until you vibrate in spacious unity with the media organism.
— Amen … Awo-men (?)