Skip to main content

review :: whitehouse :: racket :: susan lawly

flat out, a lot of long time fans were put off by asceticists, the last whitehouse album. fans who had been with the group a long time were shocked to hear the new direction that the band had taken, even incorporating (!) drumming, a thing most people thought they would never hear. i'm not one of those fans. i personally thought that asceticists was one of the best albums of 2006, i think that whitehouse defy the odds and continue not only to maintain their quality standards after more than a quarter century (how many artists can say that?). and i happen to think that the new direction, incorporating african instrumentation and percussion, along with the expected washes of power electronics, actually makes a fine extension, both thematically and sonically, of the traditional wh sound.

as with most whitehouse albums, 'racket' is focused and concise. every track is concentrated and warrants repeated listens just to unravel the layers of sound and words. whitehouse albums are never long in their running time, but they fit more into a release than some bands do into an entire catalogue. unlike a lot of power electronics bands (does it make sense to even use a label like that on a band who basically invented the genre?), they do not rely on blunt force trauma to make their point. we all know that they can overwhelm with sound, but much of 'racket' is more atmospheric, less aggressive and, ultimately, more demanding of the listener.

the use of african elements, for me, ties into a primeval root in both the sound and the words. lyrically, bennett and best have never been stronger (making this sort of music isn't just about trying to be scary), peeling back layers of conscious thought and acquired mannerisms to get at the live nerves underneath. the album is a call to peel back the layers of so-called civility and confront the demons that lie underneath. (william bennett's photo in the accompanying booklet looks like nothing so much as an african fertility totem. you can almost picture a mass of writhing bodies going into a trance around him.)

i won't get into dissecting the release track by track, since i think that it is something that should be experienced as a whole, but i will say that dyad and, in particular, mouthy battery beast were high points for me. in fact, i would still likely be writing this review if the disc had been nothing but mouthy battery beast all on its own.

stefan danielsson's dream-world cover art completes the package perfectly, making this truly impossible to resist.

ORGASMICALLY FUCKING GLORIOUS.

Comments

pelao said…
first review i read of the new album...makes me want to listen to it even more strongly! i saw them live some months back, i thought it was great! i think many people missed the self-parody of their liveshow, the conscious nickpricking of their sundry positive barking...i just read william´s blog, this is what he wrote tonight, fittingly, under the title DEARTH
"Still alive, still clinging on - album's been out a week or so now and, like that morning after the best party of your life, I always experience a feeling of utter emptiness and it tends to require a while to reanimate."
and i agree with you, i think the cover is fucking great!
flora_mundi said…
aaaaaaahhhhhh!!!! i'm so jealoous that you got to see a "live action"... i haven't been so lucky :-(
pelao said…
it was worth the wait...more than 15 years!
what shows have you enjoyed through the years?
Richard said…
I agree with your review. I really enjoy the direction that the last couple of albums have taken.

I hope that you get to see them live (15+ times myself)

Cheers

Richard
flora_mundi said…
15 times??? that's just greedy!!
MD. said…
A great review , very interesting to read...

as long as you're here, why not read more?

jihadvertising?

i keep seeing this ad for tictac candies:



am i the only one who finds the suicide bomber clown at the end a little unnerving? all the nice natural things like the bunny and the [extinct] woolly mammoth and the fruit get devoured by a trying-to-appear-nonthreatening-but-obviously-psychotic clown who then blows himself up. congratulations, tictac, i think this ad has landed you on about a dozen watch lists.

oh and by the way, showing me that your product will somehow cause my stomach to explode in a rainbow of wtf makes me believe that doing consuming tictacs would be a worse dietary decision than the time i ate two raw eggs and a half a bottle of hot sauce on a dare.

mental health mondays :: pop quiz

those of you who are friends of mine on facebook [that might look a little weird to those of you seeing this post on facebook] may have seen my weekly "sunday quiz time", where i just ask random questions in the name of stimulating conversation. after doing that this week, i ended up taking a very wide variety of quizzes on mental floss, which made me a little smug about my knowledge of geography and a little rattled about my knowledge of the finer points of grammar. [i want to say, in my defense, that the one grammar quiz i found was really f**king hard. is that last sentence grammatically correct? i don't know. i have no confidence in my grammar anymore.]

i got so into answering questions about just about anything that i thought it might be fun to apply that format to mental health mondays. i've already done links to quizzes about various mental disorders and how to tell if you have them [i think it turned out i had all of them], but i wanted to do a special set of…

i agree, smedley [or, smokers totally saved our planet in 1983]

so this conversation happened [via text, so i have evidence and possibly so does the canadian government and the nsa].

dom and i were trying to settle our mutual nerves about tomorrow night's conversion screening, remembering that we've made a fine little film that people should see. which is just about exactly what dom had said when i responded thusly:

me :: i agree smedley. [pauses for a moment] did you get that here?

dom :: no?

me :: the aliens who were looking at earth and then decided it wasn't worth bothering with because people smoked even though it was bad for them?
come to think of it, that might mean that smokers prevented an alien invasion in the seventies.

dom :: what ?!?!?

me :: i've had wine and very little food. [pause] but the alien thing was real. [pause.] well, real on tv.

dom :: please eat something.

of course, i was wrong. the ad in question ran in 1983. this is the part where i would triumphantly embed the ad from youtube, except that the governmen…