Three decades on from founding the pioneering Belgian electronic group Front 242 Daniel Bressanutti's obsession with sound remains undiminished. Now with a new band, Nothing But Noise, and new album, Not Bleeding Red, we caught up with Daniel to talk synthesizers, the evolution of sound and the importance of not being a musician.

Formed in the embers of punk, and inspired by everything from Stockhausen, Pierre Henry and Musique Concrete to the pulsing extended synthetic disco of Giorgio Moroder and even theories from the worlds of design and architecture, Front 242 were at the vanguard of a new wave of electronic acts sweeping across Europe in the early eighties. Thirty years on their influence remains as strong as ever, and from railway arches in Brixton where dancers writhe in smoke and darkness to primitive electronic rhythms to stages the world over the DNA of their Electronic Body Music can still be found alive and well.

Late last year the band played KOKO in Camden to celebrate their extraordinary career, as per usual though Bressanutti wasn't to be found on stage with his band mates, instead he took up his customary position front of house at the mixing desk making sure that the sound was 100% perfect and it's that obsession with sound, above and beyond music, is something that has driven Bressanutti since before he picked up his first synthesizer, that informed the brutal electronics of Front 242, and is the driving force behind his latest project, Nothing But Noise.

Reuniting with original Front member Dirk Bergen and long time associate Erwin Jadot, Nothing But Noise is, at first glance, a far cry from the strident rhythms of tracks like Headhunter. Instead the resulting album ‘Not Bleeding Red' is an elegiac ambient affair that sees Daniel paying homage to the acts, like Neu, Tangerine Dream and Klaus Schulze that first inspired him growing up in Belgium in the 70s and the great big wood paneled synthesizers that had just come onto the market.

At just a shade under 100 minutes and with most tracks clocking in around the 15 minute mark, ‘Not Bleeding Red' is not an album to just dip in and out of. Widely out of kilter with today's single focused, attention deficit music scene it's nevertheless an inspiring work, a fully immersive and fully realised sound world where each track is given the chance to develop and evolve at its own pace.

From his home studio in France where Not Bleeding Red was written and recorded on his collection of vintage analogue synthesizers Daniel took time out to explain the process behind the album's creation, "When we started out we just wanted to make music for the sake of music, to answer the question ‘What would those 70s band like Tangerine Dream be doing today if they were still active today?'"

"Dirk and I hadn't played together for decades but we'd always remained friends, and finally last year Erwin and I convinced him to play again. At first we just started exchanging ideas, then we actually got together and began to improvise. Sound was important, everything started from chord improvisation, which we then layered it to make it evolve. With 242 the writing process always started from a theory, from an accident with sound but with Nothing But Noise everything would start with a note. Lets just make music, that was something that I always said at every session."

Making music may have been the objective but Daniel has never seen himself as a musician, something that has fuelled his passion for synthesizers over the years. "The thing about synths is that you don't need to be a musician, in fact sometimes it's even better not to be. Take a keyboard and give it to a musician and they'll just look at the black and white keys, not the buttons. A non-musician will get you much more interesting interaction of sounds and melody. A lot of people I know are great musicians, they might come over and have a play on my synthesizers and often they get nowhere. I hear sound, a musician wants to hear notes."

"It's always been a struggle to not become a musician," Bressanutti laughs, "it's something I've tried very hard and 30 years on I'm still not very good at playing keyboards. Early in my career, when I got my first synthesizer, I tried to learn piano and oh the clichés came spilling out very fast. I knew then I had to unlearn everything as it would just get me nowhere."

"Still today this is something that I think is very important. I know that I know too much and with Nothing But Noise I directed myself more into harmonies, something that I never would have done twenty years ago. Still when I compare myself to others I'm happy with where I'm at."

Not that Daniel's antipathy to traditional musical ability extends to the tools of his trade, the analogue synthesizers that he's worked with and collected over the years. "I have a friend, a violinist who owns a Stradivarius and when you hear them speak about their instrument I recognize that it's the same thing as when I speak about one of my synthesizers."

"When you push a note and the sound comes out of the oscillator, the emotional impact is almost physical. I'm pretty sure that driving a Ford Escort is not the same as driving a Ferrari, and the same with analogue synthesizers, it's more than just a collection of oscillators, the sound they produce it makes you vibrate in a way that virtual ones don't yet. Don't get me wrong it's not better it's just… different, but still today 30 years on when I press a note on the Moog, I'm like "Fuck! I could just play that one note for an hour!" I know people who are really into their Hi-Fi's and they get the same pleasure playing vinyl on £10,000 systems, again it's the physical impact of sound."

With Front 242 now, temporarily at least, on hold Daniel's focus is now fully on Nothing But Noise, and sees Not Bleeding Red as just the beginning. "It was fun to make, and now the ball is rolling it would be a shame for me to say no and move on to something else. I did that once with another project of mine, Male or Female, but with Nothing But Noise there is this connection with the crowd, I read the reviews and I'm like wow, is it that obvious, people seem really happy it's there."

"We've tried playing it live, and we've composed a lot of new stuff, but we want to go further. I think we answered our initial question, the next part of the project is to see what would happen to that kind of music if it was alive today."

"There's already an evolution in the new songs, it's a slow process, evolution always is, but we've already planned the next stage. We want to bring in the element of rhythm, not necessarily drums, or drum sounds but that sense of rhythm. It's exciting to be at the start of something again, we don't want to look at what we've done and just repeat it."


You can visit Nothing But Noise by heading to nothingbutnoise.be