Parade Ground stands as something of an enigma in the world of EBM. Since the band’s inception in 1981, Pauly brothers Pierre and Jean-Marc embarked on a stream of EP and single releases culminating in the 1988 release of Cut Up, which saw the band collaborating with Wire’s Colin Newman. Subsequently, the brothers collaborated with Front 242 on the 06:21:03:11 Up Evil and 05:22:09:12 Off albums, and would not be heard from again until resuming Parade Ground activity in 2007 with the release of Rosary. Now as a follow-up, the brothers release The 15th Floor on Minimal Maximal, a sublet of Daft Records, founded by fellow Belgian EBM maestro Dirk Ivens of Dive. However, those expecting a branch off from the modernized textures of Rosary will be in for a surprise as The 15th Floor was originally recorded and produced in 1989, but never released until now.
An insect like stutter introduces a bouncy electro beat, and then a simple yet catchy progression of bass and steely pads give way to Jean-Marc’s soulful vocal melody on “My Morning Friends.” The song ends with a gritty bass solo reminiscent of Peter Hook, and the speedy EBM urgency of “Rage and Torments” enters. Conservative guitar plucks and more of those steely pads come in, Jean-Marc’s voice bearing a similarly to Front 242′s Richard “23″ Jonckheere or Nitzer Ebb’s Douglas McCarthy in its tonality. By now, the Parade Ground formula is set to full throttle, from the title track and “Stirring Hands,” both full of mechanical beats and electric sample-laden atmosphere, to the upbeat and ominously danceable “Awaiting,” the sharp stabs of faux-brass synths and metallic clangs evoking ’80s industrial minimalism. Other songs like “Self Unmade Man” and “Turn-Tables” with their energetic mix of guitars and rickety bass melodies bear a greater resemblance to the dark pop sensibilities of New Order or Wire, while the riff that permeates through “Round” will surely remind some of Killing Joke during the Nighttime era, yet still with the tight drum programming and layers of slithering pads for that bona fide electro edge.
Given that The 15th Floor dates back to 1989, there is a pervasive sense of nostalgia when listening to this album. It is very much a product of its time as each synth and drum machine patch sounds rather dated, the production of the guitars, bass, and vocals having a primitively subdued quality quintessential to the tools and techniques of the period. Not that this in any way hinders the appeal of the album, which surely stands up next to such classic gems as Nine Inch Nails’ Pretty Hate Machine or Front Line Assembly’s Gashed Senses & Crossfire, with just enough melody and rock texture that recalls the likes of New Order’s Technique. While The 15th Floor may not necessarily hold up to today’s standards of production and sound quality, it is at least an enjoyable listen and a pleasant trip down EBM memory lane.
Parade Ground Website http://www.parade-ground.net
Parade Ground Facebook https://www.facebook.com/pages/PARADE-GROUND/9023264979
Parade Ground Twitter https://twitter.com/Beaparade
Parade Ground ReverbNation http://www.reverbnation.com/paradeground2012
Daft Records / Minimal Maximal Website http://www.daft-records.com
Ilker Yücel (Ilker81x)