It’s difficult to know what to make of Front 242. Originally a trailblazing electronic dance act from Belgium, 242 dominated the early industrial and EBM club scenes with a steady stream of albums, Eps, and singles. Songs such as “Never Stop!” and “Master Hit” remain popular today, and the group still draws sizeable crowds when performing live. The band’s massive influence on other electronic acts across the world is simply unquestionable. However, in the ‘90s, Front 242 changed the direction of its output permanently. Beginning with 1994’s Live Code album, the band’s catalog came to be increasingly dominated by various rehashes of the glory days. Following Live Code, we were presented with the remix album Mut@ge.Mix@ge, which was soon followed by another live record that was in turn followed by the Headhunter remix singles. With the exception of an album and EP released in 2003, everything 242 has produced in the last 21 years has been remixes, live recordings, or simple repackagings of earlier work; this latest release is no exception. Since revamping the sound for 1998’s Re:Boot: (Live) album, most of 242’s remixes and live material have shared much more in common with groups like Crystal Method or The Prodigy than with other earlier EBM groups. The stylistic change has given many classic tracks brand new life in a world where electronic music and the means to make it have accelerated incredibly.
Lovely Day/Take One happens to be the best of both worlds. “Lovely Day,” originally featured on 1984’s No Comment, is presented here remastered and in higher fidelity but otherwise unblemished. Overshadowed on its initial release by such tracks as “No Shuffle” and the nine minute “Commando Mix,” it’s welcoming to see one of 242’s more obscure tracks receive special treatment. One of the more vigorous and brisk songs in the band’s early catalog, its primitive synthesizers and drum machines would be right at home on Depeche Mode’s Construction Time Again or a comparable DAF release; that is to say it’s quite representative of its time. After so many years of enjoying the modern sound, it’s easy to forget that at one time, 242 was a stark and minimalistic group, even belying “Lovely Day”’s upbeat and cheerful outlook. The sole other track on this release is a remix of “Take One,” courtesy of RadicalG, an EBM and techno artist hailing from 242’s native Belgium. Originally released on the 12-inch Endless Riddance single in 1983, “Take One” has certainly made the rounds over the years. Most recently, the track was featured on a 2014 vinyl single from the semi-resurrected WaxTrax! Records. This completely unique and reinvented version is powerful to say the least; initially a sparse and underdeveloped song, RadicalG has taken the more notable and memorable portions and infused them with wall-rattling bass and beats. The new version is at times so intense that it inspires anxiety and thoughts of suffocation. The result is a pure and infectious instrumental dance track that’s vaguely familiar but absolutely original. I for one would love to hear more of RadicalG’s work and would love to see his take on other classic EBM tracks.
Sadly, this release is just a single and one can’t help but wish there was more to it. There’s no completely original material, additional remixes, or remastered works available here. Unless Front 242 write and record more original music, we’re going to have to slake our thirst with releases such as these.