Not only is this one of Front 242's best works, it is also, in my opinion, one of the better "Industrial" releases of all time. It is also unique among the Front 242 catalog, in that most of the songs are quite short and has a rougher, edgier sound than it's successive releases. It's quite a revelation to listen to GEOGRAPHY now, some 25+ years after it's release, and to re-discover why this had become such an influential album on the development of industrial music throughout the 80's and beyond.
This particular edition of GEOGRAPHY stands high above older releases of this album for it's dynamic sound quality. The new re-mastering breathes fresh life into a mix that once sounded muddled and flat. Obviously extraordinary care was taken in re-mastering this music to truly make it the best it can be.
As an extra treat for 242 fans is the inclusion of the previously unreleased "He Runs Too Fast For Us", originally created shortly after the GEOGRAPHY sessions. Following this track are three more additional songs, which, if I remember correctly, are the same tracks that made up the bonus selections of Sony's 1992 CD edition. Unfortunately, all the bonus tracks are combined into one 15 minute selection, which makes selecting an individual song a chore.
The packaging of this latest re-issue is minimal on both visuals and content. Printed on a digipak format the cover is restored to it's original artwork with a second photo of mannequin heads on the back. There is the track list on the back and a brief paragraph on the re-mastering. Unfolded, the packaging opens to two blank white panels, with a couple lines of text for publishing notes. (Here is where a nice band photo, lyrics, or additional artwork could have been placed). The CD face has a nice design printed on it. Curiously there is a "1" arranged predominately on the disc design, which left me to question if this re-master of GEOGRAPHY is the first in a series of re-releasing the remainder of 242's catalog, which seems to be swiftly falling out of print.
Still, packaging aside, I'd make this version of GEOGRAPHY the one to get. Unfortunately, the high import price tag may keep many 242 fans and newcomers for hearing this classic in it's deserved sound quality.
Final Rating: 4 out of 5 stars. Favorite tracks: "Operating Tracks", "U-Men", "Least Inkling", "GVDT"
A bit too "poppy" maybe, but still a few good tracks. Classic 80's Front 242, but better albums by Front 242 are out there. Still a good one for the collection, I guess. Official Version kicks butt, even with a few of the 'screwey tracks' as I call them, still an AMAZING album. Just my 2 bucks ... er, cents.
"Geography" is Front 242's first album, and definitely a strong debut. It's full of classic analog synth blips, buzzes and squalls, and sounds like the results of hours upon hours of tweaking these machines. Even at this point in their career, Front 242 were production perfectionists. At this point, the songs were much simpler, and percussion was fairly minimal, and generally lo-fi, hissing and static-laden. Their music was hardly danceable at this point. Sampling and vocals were not used as extensively as in later work.
Other than these stylistic differences, "Geography" is basically a typical 80's 242 album, in that it has a few longer, vocal driven singles that exemplify the sound "EBM" is commonly associated with, and then a lot of noodly instrumental tracks which some may enjoy and others may wish were left out in favor of more material similar to the singles. Other albums from this era, such as Skinny Puppy's debut "Bites", were also put together this way.
The singles on this album are all absolute classics, instantly memorable and catchy. The opener, "Operating Tracks" introduces Jean Luc de Meyer's voice in perfect fashion, and is driven by an ominous bass-line and an instantly addictive beat. It's one of the few danceable songs on Geography. "U-Men" features an atonal, fat, distorted bass hook and de Meyer's rallying cry of "I think it injust!" (a classic example of Front 242's sloganeering style). There's also "GVDT", a song reminiscent of Kraftwerk that could be accurately referred to as the only real synth pop song Front 242 ever wrote.
There are other vocal tracks on the album that are enjoyable but not quite as memorable, such as "With Your Cries" and "Least Inkling".
I'm usually a fan of the instrumentals on 242 albums, but on this album many fail to be as melodic and interesting as on later albums. Only the bubbly "Art & Strategy" and hyperactive "Geography I + II" really stand out. However, nothing on the album is boring or obviously weak.
In conclusion, "Geography" is a solid 80's Front 242 album, but not as consistent, memorable, complex or beautifully executed as say, "Official Version", which I would not hesitate to give a 5 star rating. Beginners should check out that album or "Front By Front" first if they're looking to get into 242's classic sound, but "Geography" is highly recommended if you're already a fan of Front 242. 4 stars.
In my humble opinion, there're were 5 great electronic bands in the first years of the 80's: Kraftwerk, The Klinik, Skinny Puppy,DAF and Front 242. Kraftwerk released a wondeful LP 'Computer World', but was on their way down. DAF released some of the best EBM works ever. The Klinik was releasing very minimalistic electronic material, quite interesting but this band would later eclipse after their break-up. Skinny puppy put the ground for the darker electronic music ever known. And Front 242 was beginning to create the style later known as Electronic body Music; 'Geography' is their first LP and as almost every debut has its virtues and defficiencies; This cd contains some of the best electronic songs of that age ('U-Men', 'Operating Tracks', even the naive 'GVDT') which reminds me of what Die Krupps was also making at the time; But it contains too many instrumental songs, some of which are quite monotonous and add nothing. But 'Geography' was a touchstone, which would later develop in the typical 242 style with 'No Comment'; 'Geography' still can remind of Depeche Mode and synth-pop, but it was already clear that this band was trying to do something different, not as dark as Skinny Puppy, (and in fact they never defined themselves as dark but danceable) but obviously not Erasure or Ultravox. 'Geography' may be the worst 242 album but being the first it always occupies a space among my favourite cds.
Somewhat ignored by many music journalists. This album has been dismissed as sounding too like other groups at that time (1981). Of course it did. The band had just started and were only starting out. Finding their feet, they wanted to do at least what other electronic groups at that time were doing, and on that mission they succeeded. But their sound at that time really sounded like very little else, so I am unsure as to what some music journalists were really whinging about. Though there were similarities to Kraftwerk, New Order, etc, the sound the group was putting out didn't really reflect that. They had a sound of their own already. Very sparse (electronic) percussion, keyboard lines and minimal bass formed most songs, which were an exploration in sound rather than a conventional song. But there is much to admire on this album, for any fan of 80's electronic music, I'd ask you to take a look at this album.
Let's face it, there are a multitude of industrial bands wreaking havoc on the music scene today. And believe it or not, it has always been that way, though not so centrally in the U.S, or even London. To fully understand electronic music without peruving the biographies of such pioneers as Buchla, Moog, and Mr/Mrs Walter/Wendy Carlos...you need to send yourself back to the dawn of the era, in Germany and Belgium....and explore some of the first and finer attempts at man using machines to speak their musical language. Back when Kraftwerk were cranking out their staunchy beats, Front 242 emerged with a vigor unlike anything previously heard. Their debut album is much like being sucked into an old Atari 2600 system and duking it out with the circuits. Certainly it doesn't quite have the energy that the more current Front 242 invades our minds and ear drums with, but rest assured! This is NOT paltry, glassy-eyed, flat-response electronic music. The tracks on Geography have that very organic quality that few other electronic artists have succssfully acheived for 15 years following! The songs develop well, sometimes slowly, sometimes right away, but all are infectious in their own right. And it's all analog; no easy feat if you know your technology and you know what sort of equipment was available back then. Front 242 have managed to create alternate universes while simultaneously haunting you right here in your own living room. This is one of those records that you listen to once....and then maybe later that day, or the next day, you put it in again, and certain hooks or phrases from certain tracks will pique your memory. You'll say "Oh yeah...i remember this track!" and start to hum along as best you can.... After a few weeks, every track has its mark imbedded into your conscience, as much for its blips and synth sweeps as for its reverberating and lyrical aura. Years later, you'll pull this CD out of a box, put it in, and say "Where on earth has this been? This is great!" To quote one of the tracks from the album: "It makes you feel glad....it makes you fill the air with your cries!"
Geography being Front 242's debute album started an entirely new form of electronic music, i.e., they started ebm, or electronic body music. Previous to this release electronic music did not not have the hard edge that Front 242 showcased with tracks such as U-men, Operating tracks, and many other fine examples. As with any debute album, yes this one also has a problem and that is the sometimes over simplified lyrics, something that improves over time. The new art for the cover is vastly superior to the one with the face and I have no idea what the band was thinking. This is a very important release and it is groundbreaking in the sense that they created a new form of electronic music, i.e., ebm.
While I know that I am in the minority here, I must say that Geography (with exception of Backcatologue) contains my favorite 242 material. This is a very sharp record. With 242's earliest work, they managed to predict what we all now know as IDM. While Geography may pale a bit when listened back to back with Richard Devine, the sounds 242 use are unmistakably similar to those employed todays most cutting edge electronic artists. The structures are interesting, and many of the beats are dislocated. A very nice ballance between vocal and instrumental tracks is found here. The songs are atmospheric and timeless. The lyrics are brilliantly existential and the sparse vocals mesh perfectly with the inorganic music. I highly recomend this cd to any Autechre fan, or anyone with an intrest in bleakness and sterility.
This is a great CD but again you'll have to be patient with this CD . It's sounds more like Depeche Mode than what they would later do . But the songs do win you over in time except for GVDT which is immediate . You can't help but groove along to it and it's naive robotic charms . Recommended
This Classic remastered album is incredibly fresh and bright compared to the original! The liner notes state that it was also "slightly" remixed through modern equipment and several songs have an extra second or two that were cut from the original release. The songs sound brand new and I'm hearing lots of things I never heard before! The extra track is awesome!! And there are 3 hidden tracks; Ethics, Principles and Body to Body that are on the Sony version.
It's a little pricey since it's a European only release but worth every penny!
If you've ever owned Geography, this version is better by leaps and bounds!!