Whitehouse – Halogen (Dirter, September 2015)

There are records which need to get reissued every now and again to check how they go down in the world, how things change. Whitehouse’s Halogen is seen by lovers of the genre as a milestone of extreme and ‘horrible’ British electronics, for its form and for its content, and it should of course be enjoyed unbearably loud. The album came out fifteen years into the band’s career in 1994, and I believe now is a good time to hear it again because it actually sounds a lot more careful, a lot more precisely crafted than it might have in the past. It also sounds – dare I say – rather mellow, or in fact rather melancholy, devoted to fuzzy, awful (in the best of senses), brutal affairs which nevermind how extreme and terrible they are, are also clearly expressions of a thoughtful rage.

This record now sounds committed to a cause; there’s something of a proto-political raison d’être (yes, even behind “Lighting Struck My Dick”), a willingness to hurt, shock, harm, set on fire which sounds rather calculated, rather pregnant, and above all very serious. Halogen now sounds uncompromising for a reason; not for some kind of boyish fun, but the fuzz, the screams, the highest of high frequencies, the swearing, the horror, the lot. If you can get over the ring in your ear, Halogen in 2015 provides you with an insightful kick from the past. It reminds you of the punk ideology that hurts, that matters, that will exhaust you and make you think about the present. Then you’ll either smash something up or cry. And that’ll teach you a lesson.