Sometimes I discover music that has been around for years and I think ‘why have I only discovered this now?!’ That was exactly my thoughts when I discovered African Head Charge. At its heart, African Head Charge is a collaboration between Jamaican percussionist Bonjo Iyabinghi Noah and English dub producer Adrian Sherwood. Other musicians come and join in the fun over the years but Bonjo and Adrian are the mainstays. Between them, they take polyrhythmic beats, African (often spiritual) chants and electronic elements and blend them all together.
The duo has been at it since their debut in 1981 and has created a cult following in the world fusion arena. The way how the electronica elements support the chants and analogue percussive elements is respectful and feels truly collaborative and transformational. With a giant reissue campaign about to kick off – now is the perfect time to discover them.
On-U Sound is reissuing a 5CD boxset that covers the sounds of African Head Charge from 1990 to 2011 and the set will be titled ‘Drumming is a Language 1990-2011’. It will include their 1990 seminal work ‘Songs of Praise’ which will be expanded to a double album to include unreleased material. This album focused on religious chants from around the world set to African beats and hones the bands focus around what they call ‘ outernational sounds’. The idea is that the music doesn’t belong to a single country or nation – it can sit freely between several. It is a bold claim but African Head Charge pull it off.
To whet your whistle, the unreleased track ‘Peace and Happiness’ is the first new track to be unveiled and it is available to listen to below. The boxset reissue is released on the 6th of March. 73 tracks of goodness will be entering my music catalogue then and I urge you to take a listen to see if you’ll do the same.