Music fans don’t stop talking about Parade Ground. For most people, Jean-Marc and Pierre Pauly are just two musicians that had (in fact have) a connection with Daniel B. and Patrick Codenys of Front 242. Of course Parade Ground is much more than that! Perhaps no one manages to describe the definite sound of Parade Ground. Is it minimal synth pop? Perhaps, albeit with a very destructive side.
The original records by Parade Ground are sold out, and several compilations were released since on labels like Dark Entries Records, Other Voices Records and Infacted. However, the ultimate CD is now out on Daft Records, including all singles and maxi’s of the band, remastered by Eric Van Wonterghem.
The first release, Moan On The Sly, showed the typical sound that would become Parade Ground’s trademark: minimal synth with Dadaism. On the B-side of the debut, which was released on New Dance (a historical label as it released the early material of Front 242), it was clear that Jean-Marc and Pierre liked to experiment.
In Riddle In The Stained Glass Windows you recognize the influence of Minimal Compact that had released One By One a year earlier. When The Fever Stops was nothing more than the first sign that this band would play dirty games with your soul.
Parade Ground was never able to benefit from what was called Belpop (Belgian pop) in the 80s. Maybe it has something to do with the complicated structure of Belgium, but Parade Ground was mainly popular in its hometown Brussels, and only known by the freaks in Flanders. The second release Man In Trance appeared on Mask Music (known by record collectors, because this label released both Zwischenfall and Front 242).
Retired was more danceable, while on The Net you hear the influences of Geography.
The first two records by Parade Ground are indeed sublime, but certainly not the easiest ones. Difficult to describe, but at least the harbinger of a sound that was dominated by fear.
A year later Took Advantage appeared on Another Side (a sub-label of Les Disques du Crepuscule). Personally, I’ve always found it strange that Moral Support wasn’t the A-side. Not because the poppy Took Advantage is bad, but simply because Moral Support is one of the best tracks by Parade Ground.
And then in 1987: the big breakthrough (or what it should have been). Jean-Marc and Pierre were signed at PIAS, in the 80s a real wave label with releases from bands like Dole, The Weathermen and Trisomie 21. The first maxi was Dual Perspective with a B-side that was produced by Colin Newman of Wire (the A-side by Daniel B.). Gold Rush is without doubt one of the most famous compositions the Pauly brothers ever made.
It doesn’t sound original, but Strange World is for me the best song by Parade Ground… probably because synthpop (or whatever it is !) never sounded so perfect.
The compilation ends with Hollywood (including the original remix The Sexiest Fish, which was also on the 12”). And then it was over. Do not worry though, as nine years later they would rise again, and how!