CD, Sleep Walking Records, 2007
The 80’s were an amazing decade in different areas of human activity and music was no exception. Musically it was a time of experimentation and discovery. The synthesizer was becoming the main instrument for many musical projects and bands using mostly synths were hitting the charts. Electronic music was beginning to take over people’s preferences. At the same time, new musical genres were developing and one of these new electronic-based genres – Cold Wave – was to have a lasting impact in music. Cold Wave spread around the western world and it seemed to have a significant acceptance in countries such as France and Belgium.
In 1983, two Belgian brothers, Pierre and Jean-Marc Pauly, heavily influenced by the sounds of Cold Wave, formed Parade Ground. They disbanded Parade Ground after a 7” single, a handful of 12” and only an album. Despite their short career, Parade Ground have secured more than a footnote on the history of Belgian electronic music, even if most people – Belgians included – have probably never even heard their name.
In the 21st century (2004), Pierre and Jean-Marc Pauly have brought Parade Ground back into action and, with the help of Front 242’s Patrick Codenys, have composed and released their second long-play, “Rosary”. This is not an outstanding release and you won’t surely find groundbreaking material in here, but when was the last time we heard something truly revolutionary…? That said, I must say I was moderately impressed by this release. It features 15 songs which alternate with 15 short instrumental pieces – all of them titled “Rosary”. In a way, “Rosary” is not exactly just one album, it actually sounds like two albums mashed together and this is one of its weakest points (along with the production as the album sounds too muffled and the vocals, for example, are practically unintelligible throughout). I’ve actually tried listening to “Rosary” without the instrumental intermezzos and it actually sounded as a much tighter album to me.
The overall sound of this release is cold and harsh, featuring heavy and tribal drums (which remind me of vintage Killing Joke). Over these psychotic beats, Pierre and Jean-Marc lay spiralling guitar sounds and some pretty dark mechanical electronic noise. Given a more accurate and smoother production, there are some songs here that might build up Parade Ground’s profile in terms of public acceptance (“Windfall”, “Snail’s Burial”, “Fight Time” and especially “Stutter”) but that may not be what they’re after, though.
“Rosary” won’t certainly bring Parade Ground into the forefront of industrial music, but it’s worth a few spins especially if you miss the sounds and experiments of the 80’s. If you don’t, it is possible that you will get tired after some minutes into the record, since this is certainly not easy-listening stuff.
Incidentally, both Pierre and Jean-Marc Pauly have collaborated over the years with Belgium’s Front 242.
— João Gonçalves