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Music / Whitehouse

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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 of the group, 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:

  • Bestiality Is Depraved: Played for Horror on "Try And Be Grateful."
  • Careful with That Axe: Just about all of their vocals are screamed at the top of their lungs.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Their songs are frequently loaded with obscenities.
  • Embedded Precursor: some Cut Hands releases feature select percussive 2000s-era Whitehouse instrumentals completely unchanged from their initial release.
  • Epic Rocking: They have a few tracks that exceed 10 minutes. Their longest on a studio album is “Private” off of Mummy And Daddy, which is 20 minutes long.
  • 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...
  • 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.
    • "Just Like A Cunt" features a vicious rewording of Bob Dylan's "Just Like A Woman"
    You take just like a cunt
    Cunt-fuck just like a cunt
    You ache just like a cunt
    You break just like a cunt
    • "Why You Never Became A Dancer" dissects Tracy Emin and her work, with the most explicit reference being to Why I Never Became A Dancer.
  • Silence Is Golden: The title track of “Birthdeath Experience” is 3 and a half minutes of complete silence.
  • Spoken Word in Music: If there's no screaming in the songs, it's either this or instrumental.
  • Start My Own: Philip Best's Consumer Electronics and Kevin Tomkins' Sutcliffe Jügend; are the two most prominent — they both 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.
    • "Baby" is a subversion; it's a straightforward piece of tape music, with clean production and faint electronics... that, through Manipulative Editing, almost sounds like a murder taking place.
  • 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 performances.