Whitehouse Perfomed Live

When I received this CD, my main question was why are they re-playing Whitehouse with acoustic instruments? Is it interesting to play this industrial rock noise, with its very performative and physical music through the lens of a classical music ensemble?

Once passed the wondering and listening to the music, I finally arrived at the conclusion that is a very good idea after all! It does sound very good, powerful and intense, not so much like Whitehouse, despite the voice and the presence of William Bennett, but if Whitehouse had been writing music for classical instruments this it what it would sound like. It’s a credit to the strength of such an ensemble as Zeitkratzer, a model in this domain, of their abilities to adapt electronic music to acoustic instruments. Reading the outlines of the project by Reinhold Friedl, I thought again about how words can switch the ideas around, especially when he said “William Bennett stated after the concert that he had not heard anything like this for years”… Is it self-congratulation or rather an encouragement? I cannot say.

Yet we need to be reminded, particularly in our ears that the music played is very much akin to spectral music, with referencing to Giacinto Scelsi or sometimes to Iannis Xenakis. What is “original” is surely the attempt to play “classically” a rock band that won’t write for classical instruments and this has been done by composers/muscians such as Glenn Branca or Rhys Chatham! That said, it is also relevant from our listeners’ perspectives, the huge difference in the enunciation of Whitehouse “lyrics” through what sounds like William Bennett’s voice : echoes poetry, calm and serious and nothing like Whitehouse which is “erected” in violent gestures, both urgent and painful. This is the important difference, where maybe some would disagree, the recording sounds amazing but if it was not stated that the music is inspired by some sort of Whitehouse arrangement, we would never have been the wiser. It does sound like a Zeitkratzer recording and not really like a Whitehouse one. And yet it is important to remember the continuity of some major rock, noise, punk, industrial music beyond their own performances and cds as transmissions amongst the new generations, where the music of important bands such as Whitehouse moves beyond themselves.

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