Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|African Head Charge|
My Life in a Hole
Genres: Dance & Electronic, World Music, Pop, Rock
Representative of their strengths and weaknesses
tkpk7057 | Takoma Park, MD | 05/05/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"SONGS OF PRAISE remains perhaps their masterpiece. This album, however, contains much that is as the above review states: weird, playful, interesting, etc. Contains STEBENI'S THEME, a wonderful track, but also available on a recent sampler (ADRIAN SHERWOOD PRESENTS...). This is worth owning, but to my mind not nearly as satisfying as a number of other ON-U Sound releases. I prefer the best work of Dub Syndicate to that of AHC, but AHC seems to have existed to be the experimental wing of the ON-U Sound system, so there you are. The best work of Singers and Players and the two Lee Perry/Dub Syndicate albums may be the best Sherwood's ever produced."
Eno/Byrne fans take note...
Allan MacInnis | Vancouver | 10/29/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"When I "discovered" just how great an album Brian Eno and David Byrne's MY LIFE IN THE BUSH OF GHOSTS was, I spent weeks bugging independent record store dealers for any material in the same vein. They must not have KNOWN about this album, or about African Head Charge in general, since nobody pointed me there. I'd certainly never heard of them back home, either; seems possible that they're not well known in North America. Their stuff isn't all that easy to come by HERE, either (Japan), but since Adrian Sherwood got involved with Japanese dub geniuses Audio Active and Dry and Heavy, his back catalog seems to be getting noticed here a little. In any event, you should buy this and spread the word: this is rich, complex, playful, weird, and engaging music, with strong rhythms from Bonjo and brilliant production from Adrian Sherwood. It's their first disc, and possibly not their high point -- they seem to have a varied musical output, with later discs, like ENVIRONMENTAL STUDIES and OFF THE BEATEN TRACK seeming more abstract and out-there than this one, which is pretty tight and focussed -- so I'd imagine every fan has their own favorite AHC release. But this is certainly a good album. The music is tough to describe -- take the Muslim aspects of the Eno/Byrne album away, substitute the sounds of Africa or Jamaica for those of the Middle East, and record the thing in a basement studio in Britain, and you'll have something like MY LIFE IN A HOLE IN THE GROUND, but that's still not very clear, is it? You'll just have to take the risk. Note that of course the title is a self-conscious tribute / play on the title of the influential Eno/Byrne release, and, as you might expect, with a tribute of this sort, the music is somewhat overshadowed, even, perhaps, "derivative," of the music that inspired it. Don't let that stop you. By the way, in Lynch's WILD AT HEART, the strange music that's playing during Harry Dean Stanton's torture scene is "Far Away Chant," off this CD, but slowed down a little, or so the liner notes tell me. Also, don't get excited about any of the "ECD" notes you'll see on the reissues of AHC or other On-U stuff; the extra track is information-only, an On-U discography, interviews, etc."
One of the Greatest Experimental Dub Albums ever made.....
fetish_2000 | U.K. | 08/27/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Dub music has occasionally suffered from far too many musician's content to produce a Heavily reverberating baseline line, and add various bleeps and squeaks to stop listeners nodding off. African Head Charge (Led by Percussionist "Bonjo I"), were a radical departure. Instead taking the basics of the Dub Music Template and producing a Avant-Garde slant, and fusing the sound with African music percussion and arrangements.
It's a sound that still sounds largely unique now, much less how massively radical it must have sounded when this was released back in 1981. First Track "Elastic Dance" mixes a bizarre mixture of nyahbinghi rhythms, with heavy stop-starty bass, which is entirely unique and unlike virtually any other Dub-orientated act I've heard (King Tubby, has nothing on these guys), and some some truly, truly talented musicians combining their (Considerable) efforts here.
"Family Doctoring" pushing the Chugging Bass and free-form percussion into a different area completely. This sounds about as near to Traditional Dub, as African Head Charge, could possibly get. Using digital technology to skewer & warp the bagpipe sound, it quite extraordinary that nobody done this technique in as experimental a way as these guys, and shows an excellent example of the integration of live instrumentation and programmed music, to remarkable effect.
I'd be very hard pushed to pick a favorite track from this album, but if I had to choose, than the fusion of "Stebeni's Theme" would have to be it. Built around a African tabla percussion passage, it mixes almost dance music thumping bass, around an African Chant. The effect is comparable to some of the sublime Afro centric-jazz & World music tracks that those that listen to underground music will be familiar with. hypnotic, mesmerizing & as far removed from Dub, as one could reasonably expect. This truly is taking "Dub" music as a genre, and experimenting with it, until it's virtually unrecognizable.
"Far Away Chant" uses the off-key bass & wonky percussion ideas, that the band seemed to have perfected, and work screeching Saxophone into the sound. The effect is a spiritual and Druggy sounding heavy bass, adding a jazz-like element of improvisation to the music, with instruments suddenly popping in and out of the mix, to disorientation effect. Amazingly it works, not only because it is truly innovative (like "Stenbeni's Theme" & "Elastic Dance"), but it also is exquisitely produced, and performed.
The only proper vocal track on here (aside from rhythmic Chanting) is the engaging "Primal One Drop", Deep Bass underpins this track, and then works an interesting psychedelic-Dub angle on the track, with the vocal that reverberates heavily, sounding subdued on the first chorus, and then kicking in loud, on the second verse. Its a little disorientating at first, for sure. But like the best of African Head Charge's work, proves to be highly infectious, trippy and engaging.
African Head Charge possibly isn't for those, that like Dub music in the traditional sense, as It's as much an album of world music influences as it is Jamaican. It takes ideas, and runs with them....warping, fracturing, deconstructing and rebuilding these ideas into new forms of music. It's Chugging baselines, rhythmic Chanting, Sprawling percussion and Hypnotic environmental sounds, moves it out of the realm of traditional Dub-music, and closer to Avant-Garde. So, those wanting something a little less challenging would be better served picking up "King Tubby's" sublime collection of albums ("Dub Gone Crazy" & "Dub Gone 2 Crazy" spring to mind). But if you are looking for music that can show how far the boundaries of Dub music can be pushed, then African Head Charge are at the forefront of it, and can safely rub shoulders with the likes of "Creation Rebel" & "Dub Syndicate". And viewing this album some 20+ years later, this still remains a landmark release."