African Head Charge

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.

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. 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, this was then applied to the performances of the musicians. And so the first psychedelic African dub LP My Life In A Hole In The Ground was created.

Three more largely experimental studio albums followed throughout the 80’s…Environmental Studies, Drastic Season and Off The Beaten Track (1986) which is both a seminal recording in the progressive use of sound-bite technology and an excellent example of the integration of live instrumentation and programmed music. Steve Barker of BBC radio’s long-running On The Wire programme commeneted: “Not only is it a departure for On-U Sound, but a landmark album for what was to become the whole new ethno-beat strand within the commercial category of what we now know as ‘world music’.”

It was not until the late 1980s that African Head Charge made its first appearance as a live band, taking place at the University of London (ULU) and instantly a sold out 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.

1991 saw the release of Songs Of Praise. It featured religious chants set to an African dub backdrop of percussion and demonstrated another evolution in their sound. It was followed by the complimentary In Pursuit Of Shashamane Land album in 1993.

In 1995 Bonjo left London to start a new life in Ghana and it was not until 2003 that he made a return visit to London. The following year saw the creation of Visions Of A Psychedelic Africa. After its initial debut in Japan in 2005, the release in the rest of the world on On-U Sound via EMI was held up by the near collapse of the latter. The album only became generally available in 2010.

To celebrate the culmination of 30 years of endeavour between Bonjo and Sherwood, 2011 saw the release of their most recent album, Voodoo Of The Godsent. With a new AHC line-up together, Bonjo continues to record and perform.

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