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.