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New releases from Front 242 and the 360's are a mixed bag


Front 242.

Epic Records.




Link Records.


WELCOME TO THE MODERN world of Front 242, where the boundaries of avant-garde have yet to begin. Here, the world is ever-changing and twisting, and people like Daniel Bressanutti (Daniel B), Patrick Codenys, Jean-Luc DeMeyer and Richard 23, collectively known as Front 242, are more than willing to explore the possibilities. Front 242 uses eclectic bits of sound snatched from reality, reflecting this present era, and pastes them together, mixing, pulling, solidifying, until the aural collage, self-described as "white neurodance rhythms based on excessive computer programs," is complete. Here, "Front is the world on a smaller scale, reduced to a few screams, songs, and images."

On Front 242's latest album, Tyranny for You, the songs average 117 beats per minute. This is no meandering stroll through the park. This is an energized pulse that will overwhelm the senses. While Skinny Puppy hisses and distorts, Front 242 is more defined. Composition is structured; lyrics are unhampered but not primary. All features contribute to the determination of a song's mood and character.

"Tragedy for You" is the first single off the album and is already in its third incarnation. It appeared last year and with its success, was followed by "Tragedy for You Two." The song tells the sordid tale of a man's interlude with a succubus and his ultimate deterioration.

"Sacrifice," which opens with squawking birds and is interspersed with gentler passages like an ebbing storm, portends a future filled with sorrow and darkness. Ominous "The Untold" tells of a similar fate.

"Rhythm of Time" puts forth a more positive face. Over a background of frightened screams and dialogue, Front 242 poses the simple question "What's outside?" Possible answers include "the heart of the city," "the real world," "retaliation," "burning flesh," "oppression of the daylight," but decidedly, "nothing to be afraid of," because as Front 242 claims, "We believe in the human race."

"Soul Manager" is noticeable for its high piercing pitches. Here, the fiendish "guide of the lost" offers to save your soul for everlasting pain in hell. "Moldavia" describes similar torment. However, this results from the deleterious effects of some drug. "Trigger 2 (Anatomy of a Shot)" and "Neurobashing" are instrumentals, and in "Leitmotif 136," the leitmotif is centered on the phrase "something is wrong."

Front 242 will perform at Citi for a 19-plus show on May 2.

NEW LOCAL GROUP THE 360'S have made an impressive start with their debut album, Illuminated, which features "Texas" and the title track. Already, "Illuminated" appears to have become a permanent fixture on local charts.

The 360's first started under the name The Bardots with 1989's self-produced debut tape, Tripping with the Angels. "Death Defies Me," also included on Illuminated, received favorable airplay on local radio programs, and introduced Boston to the dreamy, lacy sound of the 360's.

The 360's main asset is singer/guitarist Audrey Clark's voice. At times gritty, at others beguiling, her voice is clear and very convincing. She sports a good range. When the guitars do finally calm down, as in "Saved," she is able to come through in beautiful tones with a soft, mixed vulnerability.

Despite Clark's virtues, the band comes off as a Sonic Youth copy. With songs like "Texas," "Illuminated," and "It," this is not surprising. For the most part, guitars are too heavy and too blatant. Lyrics are on the level of Edie Brickell and New Bohemians ("I know what we are now is what we are now"). Some good tracks are "Pull that Behind Me," which follows in the "Death Defies Me" vein, "Saved," and "Illuminated."

In general, the 360's have put together a pretty nice album for a beginning. "What We Are" and "Garden of Departure" show great potential and foretell a bright future in the local scene and beyond.