Off, on the other hand, makes extensive use of ambiant sounds that cast an eerie darkness on the mostly uptempo music, reminiscent of a Dario Argento horror film. The five original songs are rearranged and remixed to create a continuity and thematic recurrence usually associated with opera. Off does retain some of the bellicosity of its counterpart the distorted vocals are still present but the addition of female vocals on many tracks softens the rage.
The humanization of electronic music is also emphasized in the band's live performances, where Front 242 strives to dispel the traditional notion that electronic bands are cold and boring. Incorporating images and pictures as well as crosses and mirrors, the band stages something like chaotic hell. "Our set is based on a Hieronymus Bosch painting," Codenys explains. "Unfortunately, it is impractical to take too much on the road, so we were a bit limited."
Fortunately, the band is able to bring along enough stuff to avoid their previous inclusion of recorded tracks in the live show. "We're taking all our equipment with us. This time we'll be pushing 'start' instead of 'play'," jokes Codenys.
Still, there are those who firmly believe that electricity in music should be used only for Marshall amps. These folks may never cross over, but those who appreciate pulse and groove as well as those who prefer angry rock and roll will find solace in the new Front 242 creations.
It appears that, given the infinite possible permutations of zeros and ones, as well as the ease with which Codenys and Bressanutti are able to arrange them, the innovation in "electronic body music" will continue. Sometimes a light bulb just isn't enough.
Front 242, with Stabbing Westward and Ethyl Meatplow, performs at 8:00 p.m. Saturday at the Cameo Theatre, 1445 Washington Ave, Miami Beach, 532-0922. Tickets cost $17.50.