Archive for the Whitehouse Category

Various Artists – Extreme Music From Africa (Susan Lawly) 1997

Posted in Cut Hands, Music, noise, Whitehouse with tags , , , , on November 23, 2011 by noisenoisenoise

If you read the liner notes of this “compilation” released and compiled by Whitehouse’s (now Cut Hands) William Bennet, you may be left with the impression that somehow through the use of the internets and various other means he was able to locate a noise underground in places as diverse as Zimbabwe and Morocco.  It is all a big con of course. The groups whose tracks are allegedly compiled on this record  are all fictitious and all of the tracks were probably created by Bennet himself. It makes sense given Bennett’s flirtations with African rhythms in some of the later Whitehouse Records and explorations in ethnic percussion in Cut Hands

The subject matter which inspired this alleged noise underground is a powerful potpourri of transgressive bits and bobs for the power electronics set. Torture, despotism, massacres, corruption, mutilation etc are all stories of modern Africa.  The problem is of course that even a cursory listen will reveal that many of the sounds used are hardly African in nature. Take the first track Blood Lullaby. It is basically a noise remix of Deep Forest’s Sweet Lullaby which I have stuck at the bottom of this review to remind you just how awful the ethno-techno fad of the early 1990’s was and the vomitous pretentiousness of the videos of the time. Of course the problem with the actual Lullaby sample used is that it is from the Solomon Island which is in the Pacific Ocean and not Africa. On one of the later tracks I swear there is didgeridoo being played which, if I’m right, makes a mockery of the African premise.

Notwithstanding that,  the music and noise on Extreme Music From Africa are absolutely superb. It is jaw-droppingly fantastic. For the most part the music doesn’t quite live up to the cover. This is less a transgressive power electronics album than an avant garde interpretation of a fantasy underground. There are some uncomfortable moments in some of the tracks  that rely on high frequencies but they are in the minority. Tracks range for the Nitzer Ebb Industrial dance music of No Rada No Rada (allegedly by Petro Loa) to the sampled military brass band butchering some awful post colonial national anthem or something. There are great samples of Toureg tongue trilling and even some Burundi-style drumming. At times the samples of human interactions reminded me of Nurse With Wound’s Shipwreck Radio.

This is on of the best records I’ve heard all year. You don’t have to be a Whitehouse fan to dabble with this. It is less noise and more avant garde electronic weirdness. I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Cut Hands – Afro Noise 1 (Very Friendly/Susan Lawly)

Posted in Cut Hands, Music, noise, Whitehouse with tags , , on October 13, 2011 by noisenoisenoise

Well September was a complete write off but it did give me the opportunity to listen to lots of records including some that were actually released this year. Cut Hands is the new project of William Bennett from transgressive power electronic pioneers Whitehouse. Any of you who may have had contact with a Whitehouse record probably won’t readily forget the experience. But hiding in those brutal slices of nastiness were examples of Bennett’s interest in African rhythm. On the majority of Afro Noise 1 he explores different poly-rhythmic ideas using traditional instruments such as Doundouns and Djembes. Two of the tracks, Nzambi Ia Lufua and Munkisi Munkondi are old Whitehouse numbers and have previously appeared on Ascetisists 2006 and Birdseed respectively. The rest have been pulled from sessions from 2003 until this year. The term “noise” in the title is probably more appropriate in the context that most of these tracks have absolutely no melody rather than a more traditional understanding of a nosie record.

Afro Noise 1 is a much less extreme record than I was expecting. In fact for the most part is rather charming. It’s a good record, I thoroughly enjoyed it and those who have been scared off by much of Bennett’s previous output have nothing to fear here.

Consumer Electronics/Merzbow – Horn Of The Goat (Freek) 1995

Posted in Merzbow, Music, noise, Whitehouse on August 30, 2011 by noisenoisenoise

Now here is a Merzbow collaboration I was keen to hear. To be fair I had never really looked at the cover in any detail so the whole lady/goat kissing thing passed me by but this is Consumer Electronics, home of Pete Best from Whitehouse, Matthew Bower from Skullflower, Hototogisu and Sunroof! and Gary Mundy from Ramleh. In fact the aristocracy of British transgressive power electronics are all lined up here. So when you combine that line up with Merzbow at the height of his powers what would you expect to hear? The hardest, most brutal thing ever transferred to disc perhaps? Not quite. This is not a Whitehouse-style bludgeoning of the  senses but a remarkably varied noise record that Merzbow dominates. Is it still harsh in places? It is, but it also surprises with its experimentation.

This is a record that benefits from high volume. It is only then that the nuances of the noise can be plucked out. The first two track are great examples of Merzbow style industrial noise. There are some of those space age phazer sounds that appear on Space Metalizer. There is also a four second section which has Merzbeat style business going on. The third track is where all preconceptions  are buried. Think trumpets, drums, a lopping ambient oscillation with  the constant threat of an ever present industrial noise enveloping the whole thing. Track 4 sees the return of Merzbow harsh noise punctuated with a Nurse with Wound style looping female yelp. The real treat is the final 18 minutes bookend with its bastardisation of (I think) a Handel minuet which begins as the most twee track of any noise record you’d be likely to hear. Its saccharine start melts into a what essentially amount to a great noise track.

Horn of the Goat may be a different record than I was expecting but I quite like it. Not too harsh and a fair bit to discover between the layers and the blips.  It is a record that comes up cheaply on Amazon from time to time. Not bad.

Whitehouse – Birdseed (Susan Lawly) 2003

Posted in Music, noise, Whitehouse with tags , , on December 12, 2009 by noisenoisenoise

Whitehouse are one of the most important bands to have released records in the last 50 years. From their work as artistic directors for the opening ceremony of the Sydney Olympics, to their remix work for Beyonce, Whitehouse have done more to define modern pop music than any artist. U2, Cold Play and Jay Z all display the influence of this now sadly defunct band. Sure you may have  heard the bass line of Wriggle Like a Fucking Eel in Timbaland’s latter day work with Justin Timberlake but it may be their Pulitzer winning poetry for Philosophy which may hands down define them for eternity . Whether you are into pop, rap or musical theatre, Whitehouse will have you snapping those fingers and tapping your toes*

* Writing about  any record from the godfathers of power electronics is going to be a difficult to do. If you can come to terms with the sheer dodginess of the lyrics, the noise itself is an almost cathartic experience.  Skip through track 4 if you know what is good for you, but the rest will take you some where else whether you actually want to go there or not. A disgustingly foul bastard of a record. I recommend it.

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