on 23 May 2011
Anybody familiar with African / Ghanan / Funeral Drumming will feel right at home with this. Regular listeners of noise / PE will be suprised to some extent with the CD as there is a distinct difference to anything in the past, hence the new band name and genre.
Many tracks are energetic and give a real feeling of being 'dragged into the woods' and into a drumming festival, or maybe in a South African warzone (Stabbers Conspiracy, Backlash). These tracks evoke a strange fear, a Dark, Foreboding feeling of the unknown. Other tracks create an atmospheric, trance like feeling, which still have this eerie atmosphere (Four Crosses, Rain Washes Over Chaff / Away Everything). However each track is unique in its own way, the album is obviously themed but there is a lot of variation, mixing old with new. The electronics are second to none as always and the mastering is powerful and loud. You can tell that a lot of work has gone into making this album.
The booklet has very intresting passages from William Bennett, Mimsy DeBlois along with other text and veve artwork.
This album is an experience that combines the power and intimacy of complex African style beats with electronics that are very unique and obscure.
Cut Hands is the new project from legendary noise-provocateur William Bennett, better known as the man behind Whitehouse. Bennett has had a long-standing fascination with african music, especially Congolese and Ghanaian ritual drumming<!--more-->, collecting all sorts of Congolese and Ghanaian percussion instruments over many years.
Anybody who has heard any of Whitehouses music will know its never an easy ride, and so it is with Cut Hands. But there is a distinct difference with Cut Hands that is far removed from Bennet's back catalogue. 'Afro Noise I' places itself in the dark corners of African music, a harsh and menacing album, full of aggression. But the surprise is how meditative some of Bennet's music is, there are hints of ambient music, even jazz.
The driving percussion of 'Stabbers conspiracy' hits you immediately, a complex barrage of drums and pulsating metallic beats are rapidly layered into a chaotic frenzy. Similar tracks like 'Backlash' and 'Impassion' emphasise the physicality and tribalism of the music, its not difficult to be moved by its sheer hypnotic power.
But its not all out and out aggression, and this is the surprise. Bennett's music has rarely shown signs of subtlety in the past, but its in abundance on this album. Traditional african instruments such as djembes, doundouns, ksings and other acoustic drums are mixed with modern electronics. Tracks like 'Four Crosses', and 'Rain Washes Over Chaff' reach into you in ways the other more visceral tracks can't, leaving you in a dream-state. But there is always a lurking sense of unease accompanying any periods of meditation, you are never in a state of bliss for long.
At times the music conjures extreme levels of noise, ear-splitting doesn't come close to describing how divisive 'Nzambi la Lufua' is. But these extremes are necessary to convey what Bennett is seeking to show of his experiences in Africa, of a tumultuous continent living on the edge of extremes of beauty and violence. 'Bia Mintatu' is a brilliant example of the horrific extremities William Bennett will take you to, avoiding the ear-shattering din of 'Nzambi la Lufua' and in its place a wash of distorted percussion, forboding drums and digital noise slowly consumes you, an unstoppable primal force of nature.
Like many people, my experience of African music hasn't gone beyond the usual "world music" offerings, not that there is anything wrong with it. But it does give you a distorted view of African music which Cut Hands simply slices through, Paul Simon's Graceland this most certainly isn't!
'Afro Noise I' is a rich and varied album, each track is unique in its own way and the whole really is an experience like no other album i've heard this year. The mix of traditional african instruments with white-hot electronics is superbly mixed and produced by William Bennett. 'Afro Noise I' is forthrightly unapologetic from start to finish, you'll be hard pressed to find a more powerful album in 2011.
on 10 March 2013
Honestly - if a musician wants to play with 'authentic afro - african instruments' learn to play them then. Seriously, this is bad second rate drumming reminiscent of hippy world music festivals of the 1980's nothing new or exciting to be found here. If you really want to hear something different that is being done with Afro-caribbean / African percussion go to the source - there is some seriously experimental music out there. Forget this has been (or in this case - never was).