Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

Blackhouse - 25th Year Anniversary + Hope

Blackhouse
25th Year Anniversary + Hope


Released 2010 on M-Tronic
Reviewed by Lawrence, 18/06/2010ce


So this time I'm actually reviewing a Christian artist. Why? Well of course this isn't anything like the usual when you think of a Christian musical artist. I'm not talking Amy Grant or any of the lame rock-pretenders who get mentioned in HM magazine. No sir!

I'm talking the first 'industrial' Christian artist, Blackhouse i.e. Brian Ladd. And he joins the company of other Christian noise-makers such as Mental Destruction, later-period Maurizio Bianchi and not to forget, from my town of Rochester New York, the brilliant (if a bit more obscure) City Harvest Black. But Brian Ladd was the first, having made a name for himself being in the West Coast band the Psyclones and already having one foot in the whole 'industrial' genre. However he was unhappy with the amoral direction the genre was heading towards. So in riposte to bands like Whitehouse, he named his new project "Blackhouse" and the rest was history...

Now, my point is in reviewing this is that Ladd certainly doesn't fit the stereotype anybody might have concerning Christians, that they are blind followers. In fact Ladd was very much critical of former president George W. Bush at a time when Bush had huge support with the Religious Right. And currently Ladd has not been afraid to speak his mind regarding the outright hypocrisy coming from president Obama as well as (more controversially) the Israel Lobby regarding the current War on Terror, the Oil Spill and various other things. As a Christian he is also an iconoclast, and his own beliefs never lapsed into dogmatism either.

So here is this 25th anniversary release. I'm gonna discuss the second disc first, which is a reish of the first album Hope..., originally put out on RRRecords in '84. Mostly culled from two early tapes and was recorded virtually 'live' at home, this is minimal power-electronics at times just as raucous as most releases of that stripe were at the time, but with more of a positive message as opposed to the usual negativity. I should say that Ladd does use a drum machine here, but he's really clever in how he uses it. Some of these rhythms can be quite syncopated and funky. You could even dance to some of those tracks, and it's even better than alot of today's techno or EBM or whatever crazy stuff they play at discos now...

The other disc is more like a Blackhouse tribute album intercut with some brilliant narration by Ladd. Various names from the noise scene past are here, even the infamous GX Jupitter-Larsen of the Haters making an appearance(!), as well as longtime collaborators Pacific 231 from Germany (I believe.) And Ladd really does have a great sense of humor!

So people who hate industrial probably won't like it, those Christopher Hitchens/Sam Francis students with the usual hang-ups about Christians won't like it either. Which is too bad. I find Blackhouse a very important band in the industrial genre -- it's so wrong it's right. Who said industrial has to be humorless and debauched in order for it to be good? And who says industrial isn't music anyways?


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