September 24, 2009

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White, White
Potomak Records, July 30

Latter-day generations think of “industrial music” as a succinct tag applicable only to a few sounds, namely those of old Gravity Kills or whatnot and whatever Frankengoth duo is today clanging out loud and scary but politically correct verse-bridge-chorus-structured tunes through such labels as Dancing Ferret or Metropolis. Oldsters, on the other hand, remember the genre’s beginnings as a grand pot of sociopolitical angst — noise, in other words, pioneered by bands like Throbbing Gristle and the slightly less kindly Einstürzende Neubauten, who, with their arsenal of found-metal objects, were hell’s version of the Talking Heads. It’s this 30-year-old prism through which White, a Beijing boy-girl pair, see the working-stiff-artist’s life mission, and being Chinese, they predictably set about rousing the ghosts of Tiananmen Square in “Space Decay,” doomed psychedelic swirls drowning out calmly bullhorned snippets of authoritative propaganda. None too surprisingly, there’s a fetish for the theremin, an early electronic instrument patented in 1928; all 4+ minutes of “Spring House” revolve around a faraway pair of its tones. Balance forward is various shades of art-rhythms reduced to one or two core tones decorated with bells (“Build a Link”), zithers (“Train Song”) and Shenggy’s (that’s the girl) controlled rebelliousness. A-EWS