There are only three men that I know of in the world that could take a
violent, graphic image and expose the beauty of the scene through
their respective art form: Francis Bacon, Gaspar Noe, and William
Bennett. While Bacon and Noe work within visual mediums, Bennett works
with nihilistic descriptions of brutality to a background of screaming
Bennett's Whitehouse have become aesthetic poster boys to a new
generation of aggressive young noise makers who are unwilling to dull
their sharp edges for mass consumption. Whitehouse's music tests the
listener by exposing them to a singular barrage of loud, fluctuating
high-frequency sound. Vocally, Bennett shouts over the sonic assault,
often giving the effect of a dictator's passionately shouted public
Though Whitehouse are over 20 years old, Asceticists 2006 shows
that they have lost none of their vicious streak. Bennett communicates
the brutality of existence so well by simply portraying it with
graphic detail. Not one to pussyfoot around a crime scene, Bennett
puts his nose up to the mutilated body. The ear-shredding madness that
accompanies his delivery heightens his message.
Instrumentally, Bennett and Philip Best create some of the most
shape-shifting and sonically varied Whitehouse fare to date. The
distorted computer grunts of "Language Recovery" and "Ruthless
Babysitting" sound like Aphex Twin's drill and bass style played
through a broken amp with a layer of hiss. "Guru" uses one harsh,
high-pitch locked groove that sounds like a two-second tape of a fire
alarm. The lone instrumental on the album, "Nzambio ia Lufua," is a
duet between an organ drone and dagger-like microphone ejaculation.
Asceticists begins with an immediate collage of sharp fuzz,
disjointed and distorted drum beats, and screeching tones. Bennett
pens a piece. Best screams a situation for us to fathom, demanding us
to try on a new skin. He commences with a Phillip Larkin-like rant
about how much parents fuck up their kids. He shouts: "So picture a
pet I could teach to dance/ Wouldn't you want to see its moves?"
Best proceeds to describe the horrific intents of self-interested
parents. Four stanzas into the song, Bennett paints us a picture of a
suicide bombing. He yells: "Ripped tiny torso: Nice new sandals/
What Coreography/ Skinny boy arms form the cross/ Heavy hand pulls
down hard on uniformed mini-muscle." A plethora of the graphic,
violent, post-9/11 images come flooding into the mind, and Whitehouse
has almost completed the job. A couple more stanzas filled with
horrific imagery drive the message home.
"Guru" and "Killing Hurts Give You the Secrets" are companion pieces.
"Guru" takes the point of view of an all-seeing narrator, while the
subject of "Killing Hurts Give You the Secrets" is lonely and
oblivious to the world around him. The instrumentation on "Guru" is
particularly harsh and unrelenting. Conversely, "Killing Hurts Give
You the Secrets" has high frequency breakouts but is mainly scored by
a pulsating, uneasy drumbeat.
"Ruthless Babysitting" deals with similar themes as my favorite
Whitehouse tune "Why You Never Became a Dancer." Both songs can be
viewed as misogynistic rants but are really portraits of disaffected
souls, dehumanized by sex. On "Ruthless Babysitting," the backbeat is
a roving amalgam of fizz and a fractured drum pulse. The harshness
comes from Best's forked tongue. He roars lines like: "However
artfully framed on white gallery walls/ I can look you in the eyes/
and see what you spend your time doing/ when it gets dark and messy."
Whitehouse presents a warning on each one of its official recordings.
It reads: "Warning: Extreme electronic and acoustic music: Please
acquire with caution." Yet it isn't the music that will catch the
seasoned listener off guard. It's the glimpse of the dark side of the
human psyche that each Whitehouse record gives the audience that
should warrant a caution.
2. Language Recovery
4. Nzambi Ia Lufua
5. Killing Hurts Give You the Secrets
6. Ruthless Babysitting
7. Dumping the Fucking Rubbish