This is an act that made some of the earliest Transnational Bass known to man back in the early 80’s when most of the world was just waking up from Punk and getting into New Romantic Pop!
When I was talking to Marlon Bishop from MTV a few months back about Transnational (or “Global Bass” as the feature called it, that term sound so out-dated to me) I mentioned this act amongst some others like Transglobal Underground as the forerunners and innovators of what we have now become accustomed to in this scene. I said that their influence should not be overlooked or underestimated.
So glad I found them on Soundcloud, check this awesomeness out, it’s more recent stuff but I’m just shocked that they’re still going and I didn’t know about it :
AFRICAN HEAD CHARGE started life as a studio recording project in 1981 when the percussion talents of Bonjo Iyabinghi Noah combined with the studio wizardry of Adrian Sherwood. The first recordings were initially inspired by Brian Eno.Eno, having read an interview about his album with David Byrne “My Life in the Bush of Ghosts” stated ‘I have the vision of a Psychedelic Africa’.
Sherwood, who was spending most nights at the time producing music in a basement studio off Clerkenwell road in London thought ‘hmmm’ …..He had previously worked with Bonjo from late 1979 with Creation Rebel and Prince Far I doing live shows. Bonjo had also worked in other artists such as Desmond Dekker, “he was like a father to me” says Bonjo, and Freedom Fighters, backing legendary artistes like Dillinger, Trinity and many other touring Jamaican acts.Bonjo had come to England from a Rasta camp in the hills of Clarendon, Jamaica. From as early as he can remember he studied and played percussion, learning not only Rasta/Nyabinghi drums but also African and Afro Cuban rhythms. He also loved to experiment, which made working with Sherwood perfect….Bonjo and Sherwood created their interpretation of Enos “vision”.
Working with tape loops, manipulated and vari-speeded 1/4 inch tape that was re-recorded back to the multi track tape, reverbs and delays which were then applied to the performances of the musicians. So the seminal and aptly named “MY LIFE IN A HOLE IN THE GROUND” ” was created. This was released on the then newly formed ON-U SOUND label.Three more largely experimental studio albums followed throughout the 80′s…”ENVIRONMENTAL STUDIES”, “DRASTIC SEASON” and the more accessible “OFF THE BEATEN TRACK”.
It was not until the late 1980s that AFRICAN HEAD CHARGE made its first appearance as a live band. This took place at the University of London (ULU) and it was an instantly sold out roadblock of a success. What followed in the next few years gave them semi-legendary status, with performances from Glastonbury and the wonderful Essential music festival, to visits to Australia, New Zealand and Japan – all to great acclaim.
1991 saw the release of an album “SONGS OF PRAISE” recorded at Manor Studio, Oxford. It featured religious chants set to an African dub backdrop of percussion, with a mighty sonic and great musicianship. It was truly a landmark record both for AFRICAN HEAD CHARGE and ON-U SOUND.Their 1993 classic album “IN PURSUIT OF SHASHAMANE LAND” was to be the last ON-U produced recording for 12 years.
In 1995 Bonjo left London to start a new life in Ghana, so fulfilling “The dream of every Rastaman to return to Africa”.It was not until 2003 that he made a return visit to London and it was during this time that plans were made to record a new album. The following year saw the creation of “VISION OF A PSYCHEDELIC AFRICA”…full circle you may think, well almost…Bonjo and Sherwood are both fiercely proud of this work, but after its initial release in Japan in 2005, it’s release in the rest of the world on ON-U SOUND via E.M.I. was held up by the near collapse of that organization and the album only became generally available in 2010.
To celebrate the 30th year of ON-U SOUND in 2011 they released “VOODOO OF THE GODSENT”. The album is essentially the continuation of a process that has seen both creative powerhouses expanding and transforming the landscape of contemporary reggae into new and exciting shapes. All the elements of a classic African Head Charge album are present; a triumphant mix of dub, psychedelia, trance, afro and tribal rhythms that have given them their own unique place in contemporary music.
African Head Charge are currently recording their new album ‘No Place Like Home’ in London – UK, which is due for release in 2013. [like] this Facebook page on the right hand side of this website to stay in the loop. It’s a new year and a new era for African Head Charge who are now taking bookings for 2013. Check out the bookings of the website which also features the newly established ‘African Head Charge Sound System’.