Background/Info: This album apparently is the final opus from the “Deluxe Anniversary Limited Box”-trilogy celebrating the 35th anniversary of Front 242. When the masters of EBM released “Pulse” in 2003 on the French label XIII BIS Records they were already living EBM Gods for years. It also was their first new studio album in 10 years and unfortunately the last one to date.
“Pulse” has been revisited by a judicious track-list selected by Daniel B. as a kind of DJ set and still featuring songs from the maxi “Still & Raw” (2003). The album is available like on the other boxes as vinyl- and CD format while you also will get a live CD and an Alfa Matrix label sampler plus once again great fan material like cards, a lanyard ao.
Last, but not least, but this is a real essential element, the vinyl-sized carton box features a military camouflage design with a spotted varnish printed Front 242 logo and a die-cut ‘2’ across the upper cover, which once assembled with the two other limited collector box sets released for the anniversary series, you get the ‘2-4-2’ cut across the 3 box sets.
Content: Let’s be honest; “Pulse” is not exactly the album that entered into history. Previous albums “Off” and “Up Evil” (both released in 1993) already revealed an experimental approach and that’s exactly the same although in a different sound on “Pulse”. The work is characterized by complexity and the usual sophisticated sound treatments.
“Pulse” feels a bit like Daniel B. was locked up in his sound lab and composed the most weird noise treatments. This work was no longer into EBM, but simply experimentalism. It’s a difficult opus, which was carried by outstanding effects and a high-tech production. There’s an impressive progression in the songwriting, but clearly a break with the early sound of the band.
The live album brings us back to 1989 and an astonishing performance of the band at the Brussels temple of music “Ancienne Belgique”. I had the chance to assist at this gig, which brings us back to some of their most legendary hits from the album “Front By Front” (1988). This period revealed ‘242’ at their best and at the top of the scene featuring hits like “Until Death (Do Us Apart”, “Im Rhythmus Bleiben” and of course “Headhunter”.
+ + + : This final edition of the ‘anniversary’ box will appeal for the most experimental lovers, but it once again shows the incredible skills of manipulating sounds and noises. Front 242 clearly were and still remains the most sophisticated and probably versatile album in a genre they’ve invented. Time will tell if “Pulse” was their most visionary work and maybe a reference for the further EBM generations. The live recording from the 89’ “Front By Front”-show is absolutely essential for the fans. Last, but not least, the 3 boxes together are absolutely brilliant and will rapidly become the masterpiece of your Front 242 collection.
– – – : Just like for both other boxes I regret there’s not any single word from the band (or at least one of the members) to give us some background information about the content, the period the albums and songs have been made and things like this. It would have added an extra and really informative element to this great release-series.
Another and I guess essential point is why the band celebrated their 35th anniversary by the albums “Geography”, “No Comment” and “Pulse”. Why didn’t they choose albums like “Front By Front” and “Tyranny For You”? I guess the explanation is quite clear, because all other albums were originally released on Red Rhino Europe (Play It Again Sam), which for sure has the rights on the work. The band and their label found a perfect alternative to add live CD’s featuring songs from these other albums.
Conclusion: “Pulse” is not exactly my favorite work of Front 242 and I in a way rediscovered this opus, but it’s an essential item in this special ‘anniversary box’. I’m really wondering what 2021 will bring for their 40th anniversary!?
Best songs: “Together”, “Matrix”.