Front 242

05:22:09:12 Off

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A combination remix collection and wholly separate album, 05:22:09:12 Off (aka Evil Off) is a semi-sequel to 06:21:03:11 Up Evil, appearing about six months after the release of the first disc. Not only is it a fine companion piece to the earlier disc, it easily stands on its own, finding the band thoroughly engaged in some of its most extreme, experimental music ever. A fair amount of the record is given over to darker plunges, with grinding industrial noise and moody, rumbling sonics used as the basis for many a composition, while other songs explicitly flirt with hardcore techno via hyperactive rhythms. More than a few compositions -- the rhythms on "GenEcide" being a great example -- sound like they're forecasting a lot of subsequent avant techno work on Warp Records and elsewhere. Another radical departure involves the use of female vocals throughout; no direct credits are given for the singer or singers, unfortunately, but contemporary interviews referred to a New York-based trio that would be appearing on the album. Combined with Daniel Bressanutti and Patrick Codenys' thrilling reinvention of their sound throughout -- little here sounds like the "typical" Front 242 familiar from Front by Front or the like -- the vocals make 05:22:09:12 Off a fascinating listen. The key tracks are "Animal" and "Angel," both of which crop up in a variety of different forms throughout 05:22:09:12 Off. "Animal" itself appears in three radically different versions at the start of the disc, ranging from understated minimalism to crisp but oddly distanced rhythms, as well at least one other take later on. "Angel," meanwhile, surfaces as both "Modern Angel," with the female singer delivering her lines with sheer threat and command over the acid-touched forward crunch of the music, and the appropriately titled "Speed Angel." Three songs reappear from 06:21:03:11 Up Evil in remix form, including a fair take on "Melt" and a wonderful mix of "Crapage" called "Junkdrome."

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