††††† Adorned in Trevor Brown's always captivating sleeve art, this slab of skull-splitting electronic sadism appears here on vinyl for the first time ever (only previously available on CD from the band's own Susan Lawly imprint, now out of print), remastered and reissued on 180 gram black vinyl, making this a perfect opportunity for any of you wax addicts looking to challenge your pain threshold. Halogen is the synapse-shredding 1994 album from British power electronics pioneers Whitehouse, recorded by Steve Albini and released at a time when the notorious group (which was here comprised of founding member William Bennett, Peter Sotos and Jim Goodall) were tempering their piercing, horrific feedback abuse with a slightly more restrained approach, adapting coldly digital ambient textures to their offensive. Don't think for a second that they've gone soft, though - em>Halogen is still an utterly ugly and violently emetic listening experience, blending their shrill, hysterical screams and garbled, distorted ravings with sprawls of smoldering, rumbling noise and layered sawtoothed synth-drones. And with their usual lyrical themes of depravity and degradation explored, though not without a sense of humor, as jet-black as it might be. While the trademark blasts of eardrum-puncturing high-end feedback are used sparingly here (at least relative to Whitehouse's earlier, harsher works), this is still extreme stuff.
††††† Much like the excellent Quality Time album that followed, this material is formed around denser abstract noisescapes, layering a variety of abrasive sounds from distorted piano to those clotted, crunchy synths, eerie childlike lullabies lurking within ominous minor-key keyboard melodies, scattered amid blasts of pure static and machine noise, swells of jet-black ambience and bizarre sound collage, and assemblages of violent, broken electronics, with some monstrously tortured pitch-shifted vocals showing up later on, bellowing over symphonies of chirping mechanical sounds and malevolent low-end pulsations. There's a kind of sophistication, even a certain level of musicality to this album that would be further developed over the next several albums, the group expanding on their core power electronics sound without sacrificing the overall violent intensity inherent to their work.
††††† While this is definitely a different beast than the primitive, transgressive noise of their early 80s output, this era of Whitehouse features some of their most interesting and experimental material. A must-hear for anyone intent on exploring the work of this pre-eminent power electronics band.