Front 242
No Comment


5.0
classic

Review

by HeathenEarthling USER (5 Reviews)
February 24th, 2012 | 11 replies


Release Date: 1984 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Electronic Body Music recorded on 8 tracks.

Front 242's second album is the only record I know to have inspired an (informal) international holiday. The liner notes bearing the simple description "ELECTRONIC BODY MUSIC COMPOSED AND PRODUCED ON EIGHT TRACKS BY FRONT 242" gave a name to a growing genre of underground electronic music, and thus every February 24 (24-2 in European notation, get it?) is now observed as International EBM Day. No kidding. For one more piece of trivia before diving into the music, No Comment is also unusual in that the song titles are listed on the LP sleeve in alphabetical order instead of playing order (the two sides of the record are more or less grouped by compositional similarity). However, the CD reissues changed the track order so that they now do play alphabetically, as seen to the right of this review. A later version of the CD also adds four bonus tracks to the end.

Whichever version you have, the album opens with "Commando Mix," an ambitous statement of intent extending for over nine minutes. Do you remember seeing sociological documentaries on television use stereotypical sped-up footage of a bustling metropolis, crowds of individual people going about their business taking on the appearance of an ant colony or organized machine? No Comment is the musical equivalent of that image, industrial society's restless march to oblivion rendered as an endless dance track, as aggressively energetic as it is alienated. A voice exclaims simply but poignantly, "I'm shiverring." The documentary stock footage in my head switches to air traffic in slow motion. Even early in their career, Front 242 are in top form, well beyond a lot of EBM material even today. Vocal sampling is used with great subtlety (a bit of a lost art in the genre), adding depth and texture to the compositions that make this record as interesting on headphones as on the dancefloor. The intros and outros even point to the more experimental roots of this music: dreary horn sounds, or the metallic din of "S.FR Nomenklatura II." The other side of No Comment (following the vinyl tracklist) contains some of Front 242's catchiest EBM "synthpop" songs, from the sarcastically upbeat "Lovely Day" to the rising paranoid madness of "Special Forces," presenting the more personal side of the band. The attention to odd background details is still a defining feature and the mixing of different vocal tracks (and samples?) is used to great effect, with clean, measured lead vocals accompanied by raw abstract expressions of emotion in the background. Fan favourite "No Shuffle" is a cold song with its ominous bassline and odd lyrics contrasting a hectic modern life with an empty arctic wasteland: "There is no shuffle here, here on the North Pole..." Hey, wouldn't this make a great song to play around Christmas for all the Santa Claus nonbelievers out there?

Front 242 went on produce other very fine albums, eventually updating their style to incorporate industrial rock and '90s electronica influences. No Comment remains essential listening as the literally genre-defining example of first wave EBM, both musically and aesthetically. This is what I consider EBM at its most relevant, combining emerging underground dance music with a perceptive anxiety of the 1980s as a kind of perpetual motion machine. Hearing it now 28 years after its initial release, I have to marvel at how right they turned out to be.


user ratings (5)
Chart.
3.8
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
Beachcoma
February 24th 2012


526 Comments


Hm, funny because I was just thinking about listening to this. I probably should now.

Wizard
February 24th 2012


19403 Comments


Fuck, I love users that stuff their reviews full of info goodies. Excellent review and I want to hear this. I love everything I've heard by this band.

Digging: Khonsu - Traveller

HeathenEarthling
February 24th 2012


89 Comments


Thanks!

Wizard
February 24th 2012


19403 Comments


Too many faggots around here reviewing stuff that doesn't need anymore reviews.

Willie
Moderator
February 24th 2012


15976 Comments


Front 242!!! Off is my favorite.

Digging: Necropoli - I

Beachcoma
February 24th 2012


526 Comments


This is pretty good, but I can't say it's my favorite by the band, though.

Acanthus
February 25th 2012


9543 Comments


Spent today listening to trance and dub at work, need to find the 242 album that is for me.

Digging: Falls of Rauros - The Light That Dwells in Rotten Wood

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
February 25th 2012


6104 Comments


Excellent review, pos.

I always wondered what kind of music is this Electronic Body Music thing.

I mean, there is an editor in the Hellenic Metal Hammer that reviews some EBM stuff from time to time, but i couldn't get past his descriptions.

Will investigate this further.

Digging: The Sabbathian - Ritual Rites

Willie
Moderator
February 25th 2012


15976 Comments


@Acanthus: Try Off

HeathenEarthling
February 25th 2012


89 Comments


@Voivod: You listen to Ministry, right? Their 1986 album Twitch sounds like Front 242. EBM generally isn't related
to metal, though.

geezers1989
March 6th 2012


135 Comments


glad someone reviewed this, sputnik needs more industrial reviews



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