The grainy gristle of the tunes playing on entry merely added to the Saigon vibe of the evening immediately engendered by the camo-netting strung across the ceiling. Just as the CIA Audio Harassment Division would play music to destabilise Vietcongs, the odd Whitehouse tune dropped by the intro DJ felt like an unsettling initiation preparing us for what was to come.
Raime began the live performances with a sprawling introduction of scattered train-track field recordings (maybe), sounds all eventually drawn together by the infiltration of a beat: the duo's cue to the audience to begin moving. And so they did. New material featured, but while the performance was satisfying, even the apparent entry into the cavern by an invisible troupe of Taiko drummers couldn't elevate the pair's reluctance to reach above gravelly suburban rumbles. Barely giving Raime's music a moment to echo away, Regis stepped up to give the first use of the Funktion Ones' high-end, but his DJ appearance was short-lived and merely a nod to the darker end of the spectrum that was to be returned to.
Photo credit: Jimmy Mould
Much of the audience had come to experience Whitehouse member William Bennett's new incarnation as Cut Hands. Opening tracks from what can only be classed as the UK treble scene were met with either cupped ears or enthusiastic (and correctly pitched) shrieks, re-hypnotising a section of intelligentsia through a circular deconstruction of the processes used to create his music. Bennett constructed a contemporary representation via Haitian instrumentation of Whitehouse's oft-over-passionate audience (a couple of whom had snuck away from families for the evening) and, further supporting the fact that high-pitches are reprehensibly underused in today's music, as soon as Cut Hands unleashed the Ghana-sourced bells of "Shut Up and Bleed," the hypnosis had clearly taken effect, the audience suddenly thrashing as if beating on Beelzebub’s door, beseeching their entry.
On cue, Surgeon immediately cleansed the pallete with a jazz record, snapping us out of any unconsciously adopted state, and easing himself out of his yogic break. Next came a long and enticing entrée, until a solid placement brought most-welcome beats which coloured the rest of a set which saw Stoic Tony managing to remain perfectly still—not even tempted by a sly nod. Eventually joined by his fellow Birmingham Sound Assassin, the British Murder Boys were re-formed for a mere 30 minutes. The subverters of standard industrial techno provided direct audience torture along the brutalist guidelines that came to be expected of them, making up for lost years with a dense performance. On exit one realised the Audio Harassment Division had had no part in the evening whatsoever.