On-U Sound 1989; ON-UCD02
A dose of superb otherworldly dub here from African Head Charge on Adrian Sherwood’s endlessly interesting On-U Sound label.
This is a compilation containing most of the tracks from AHC’s first and fourth albums, My Life In A Hole In The Ground (1981) and Off The Beaten Track (1986). The band has had a constantly shifting line-up but is essentially the Jamaican percussionist Bonjo Iyabinghi Noah with Adrian Sherwood providing studio trickery. The result is like nothing which had gone before. The usual dub effects are present, but instead of the Jamaican rhythms you’d expect, the inspiration comes from Africa which gives the album a completely different feel. Noah later moved to Ghana, so this mixing of the Jamaican and the African was more than skin deep.
This is really experimental stuff and sounds like music from another planet, but it’s surprisingly listenable for something so groundbreaking. For me the standout is Far Away Chant which sounds like we’re earwigging on a long forgotten religious ceremony.
On-U re-issues African Head Charge material from time to time. Best buy right now is the Japanese Triple CD which combines Off the Beaten Track, Songs of Praise and In Pursuit of Shashamane Land.