|Whitehouse, Kraang +
Hinoeuma, Red Rose Club, London
Whitehouse, the Masters of the Overviolence, return with Live Action 86 and their most recent London show since the Garage, back in 1996. Last year it appeared that Whitehouse had imploded in on themselves when Philip Best stormed out just prior to a Parisian show. But Bennett's admiration for the long-running noise club, Hinoeuma has resulted in him reviving his extreme music group featuring the classic line-up of William Bennett, Philip Best and Peter Sotos. The venue is a bizarre choice in itself being a North London Labour Club.
Given the colossal sound Whitehouse are associated with it's quite astonishing to see just how little equipment they use. It's split over two tables tonight: Best's Roland, Sotos' WASP and, uh, Bennett's microphone. They take to the stage to a torrent of verbal abuse before launching into the classic Whitehouse set-opener, 'Tit Pulp'. It becomes obvious quite early on that Peter Sotos rarely touches his WASP, and if so only to alter pitch. He prowls the stage, inciting not so much violence but taunts and jeers. Occasionally he'll let loose with some spit onto the floor, other times it's a mouthful of beer spurted into the crowd with precision aiming directed at the chief offenders. Besides being a prime influence on William Bennett one may wonder what exactly is his role in a Whitehouse Live Action, aside from stalking the stage. However his dark demeanor, sexual proclivities and interests as expounded in 'pornographic' titles such as Tick, Index and Lazy, ensure a deserved place within the Whitehouse ranks.
Philip Best, meanwhile, is perhaps the chief antagonist but he's conversely the most good-humoured. With round spectacles and chubby fat he's more like a guilty schoolboy than an extreme music virtuoso. He lunges with his vocals as he opens the set with 'Tit Pulp'. He's the Whitehouse noise supremo and mid set while Bennett and Sotos have sauntered off-stage he indulges in a noise-fight with the crowd.It's a classic game of chicken where the crowd taunt for more noise, and Best responds with more volume and greater extremity, the crowd ridicule and taunt more, Whitehouse respond and so it goes on. It appears good-natured, and the masochists in the crowd appear to relish it. It is, however, an unnecessary and ugly gap in what should have been a Whitehouse set. I, amongst others, wanted to experience the full Whitehouse onslaught - of scathing lyrics - not just brutal noise.
When William Bennett dj'ed earlier this year at the Hinoeuma club, he looked surprisingly young and stylish - tonight he's in his Whitehouse guise dressed in black jeans, long leather jacket, sporting glasses from which his greased hair overhangs. He looks sleazy, intimidating - perhaps just like a pimp. It also surprisingly rock 'n' roll especially when he thrusts his arm into the air, Las Vegas style. Bennett's the most frenzied - dribbling beer, grabbing his crotch, and furtively shaking his microphone in an act of masturbation screaming 'Thank Your Lucky Stars'. The paced is slowed when William Bennett reads a short story which at times just sounds like a recipe, of course, there's enough incisive twists to elevate this from Delia Smith to domestic abuse via eating disorders. Things get frenzied again during a brutal rendition of 'A Cunt Like You' where the microphone is passed between a screaming Best and a raging Bennett. This is when Whitehouse are at their most potent and intimidating.
Even if the threat of a Whitehouse show is now more implied than actual it's not a reason to doubt their power or even to undermine them. After 20 or so years, Whitehouse are still managing to develop; their sound has matured, their interests have become subtler but the overall effect has not been diminished. It's just in a venue like this - it's a noise club - where the crowd know what to expect and Whitehouse know what to deliver the element of surprise is removed. No one goes home disappointed, though. This is prime Whitehouse, not to be missed.
In an act of bad planning, or perhaps for logistical reasons, the collaboration between Kraang and Wertham is confined to the end of the night. A complete shame for the artists and for those who decided to leave early. Kraang is John Murphy the prolific percussionist better known for his work with Death In June, Current 93, Der Blutharsch, Associates, etc.
Tonight he is producing industrial noise with Italian noise artist Marco Wertham sharing electronics. As the machines bleed, Wertham takes the microphone and screams from the front of the stage. Murphy, resplendent in his Moon Lay Hidden Beneath A Cloud T-shirt, remains behind his equipment. Above a screen shows scenes from The Eternal Jew, Pasolini's Salo and World War 2 atrocities. I believe this was more John Murphy assisting with Wertham's project - either way, they produced a satisfactory slab of atmospheric industrial noise and I for one was glad to hear John Murphy perform away from his usual percussive duties. It's just a great pity that this collaboration had to languish at the end of the night when many people had already left to catch their travel connections home.
Whitehouse - http://www.susanlawly.com
For details of Kraang's Uro (1981 - 1983) LP go to Tesco Distribution www.tesco-germany.com or www.tesco-distro.com
Photography by Compulsion online