Music / Whitehouse

Whitehouse was an electronic music group formed by William Bennett that is seen as the Trope Maker and Trope Namer of what is known as power electronics. The modus operandi as stated by Bennett was "creating a sound that could bludgeon an audience into submission," and indeed, much of their catalog consists of walls of loud, white or pink noise, synthesizers distorted to the extant that they wouldn't generate any notes resembling music, and screamed vocals depicting violence, rape, serial killers, prostitution, self-harm, and child abuse. They took their name from the infamous Moral Guardian Mary Whitehouse, as well as a pornographic publication of the same name.

Before Whitehouse, Bennett had a band called Come, which in its brief existence also had Mute Records' Daniel Miller and J.G. Thirlwell as members. Because of these associations as well as collaborations with Nurse with Wound, Whitehouse and the power electronics movement are viewed as early industrial music pioneers.

The most notable members besides Bennett are: Philip Best, who joined at age 14 in '82 and largely stayed until Whitehouse's end in 2008, Kevin Tomkins, a member during the 80s who left to start Sutcliffe Jügend, and Peter Sotos, a controversial writer, to say the very least. After a hiatus from 1985 until 1990, the line-up became Bennett, Sotos, and Best.

A duo after Sotos' departure in 2003, Philip Best left to concentrate on his own project, Consumer Electronics in 2008, leading Bennett to formally disband Whitehouse to concentrate on his new Cut Hands project, mixing noise with African-influenced percussion.

Tropes associated with Whitehouse:

  • Careful with That Axe
  • Cluster F-Bomb
  • Dream Team: Their established lineups aside, Andrew McKenzie (of the Hafler Trio) was known to join them in concert, and David Tibet has a co-writing credit on some of their works.
  • Embedded Precursor - some Cut Hands releases feature select percussive 2000s-era Whitehouse instrumentals completely unchanged from their initial release.
  • Insistent Terminology - Almost always used "live action" over more common terms such as concert, show, gig, etc.
  • Loudness War - particularly the later, digtally produced records. That said, the albums before the digital era are still mixed lower than most contemporary pop music. Compare a track like "Torture Chamber" to a Katy Perry song...
  • Mean Character, Nice Actor - They're all reported to be very pleasant fellows in real life, with Bennett finally revealing that he actually holds pretty progressive views years after Whitehouse's end. Even Peter Sotos, despite his particularly macabre interests, is said to be a rather decent guy in public.
  • Mohs Scale of Lyrical Hardness: A solid 11.
  • New Sound Album: Their sound did change, but mostly due to using different synths and producers rather than a shift in creative process: the 80s Come Org era was entirely based upon the EDP Wasp synth, save for Great White Death. The 90s reformation era starting with Thank Your Lucky Stars and ending with Quality Time had a cleaner, subdued sound due to the engineering of Steve Albini, and then Mummy and Daddy began the brickwalled digital era produced by Bennett with computers. In a more traditional use of this trope, starting with Bird Seed they started to incorporate rhythms made with African drums.
  • Separated by a Common Language - Uses the word cunt a lot and they're from England, so this fuels much of their accusations of misogyny. Of course, in some cases, that's their express intent...
  • Shout-Out - The band name and occasional use of the Timepiece font is inspired by a pornographic magazine that did the same.
  • Spoken Word
  • Start My Own - Philip Best's Consumer Electronics and Kevin Tomkins' Sutcliffe Jügend; both of which have had records distributed by Bennett's labels, Come Organization and Susan Lawly.
  • Step Up to the Microphone - Often Best or Tomkins would do vocals on a song here and there during live actions until Best's studio vox debut on Quality Time's "Just Like a Cunt". Cruise and Bird Seed featured more and more vocals from Best until by the end he was contributing more vocals in the studio than Bennett.
  • Surprisingly Gentle Song - "Cut Hands Has The Solution" which is a simple beat played under Best and Bennett's rants.
  • Token Evil Teammate - Peter Sotos; to quote Weirdest Band In The World: "Where Bennett, Best and even the rather intense Tomkins seem to be drawn to gruesome subject matter mainly for its shock value, Sotos seems genuinely, pathologically obsessed with it."
  • Walking Shirtless Scene - Bennett and Phillip Best frequently take their shirts off during live actions.