African Head Charge – A Trip To Bolgatanga

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If you enjoy music that transcends the boundaries of genre, culture and geography then this is the album for you. It shows that the human experience is universal, and we are all united by elements such as music. The duo traverse complex, varied and ever shifting and evolving sonic landscapes. Some tracks are upbeat and energetic, while others are immersive, mysterious and at times haunting, however all are richly textured and complex. There’s a great fusion of sounds and rhythms that feel both familiar and exotic, as the duo fuse traditional Ghanaian instruments and influences with those of the London electronic scene.

Artist: African Head Charge
Album: A Trip To Bolgatanga
Label: On-U Sound
Release Date: July 7, 2023
Location: London, UK

Written by James Sweetlove

Following a 12 year hiatus master Jamaican percussionist Bonjo Iyabinghi Noah and English dub producer Adrian Sherwood return with one of their finest and most personal works to date. A Trip To Bolgatanga is more than just an album, it’s a look into the life and world of Bonjo.

If you enjoy music that transcends the boundaries of genre, culture and geography then this is the album for you. It shows that the human experience is universal, and we are all united by elements such as music; a shared truth that is both subjective and objective in nature. The very existence of this project itself shows that too, as it is the coming together of two people with vastly different lived experiences, from vastly different backgrounds. And yet, the manage to work seamlessly together, as if they are one living breathing organism.

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Each track on the album is as captivating as the last, as the duo traverse complex, varied and ever shifting and evolving sonic landscapes. Some tracks are upbeat and energetic, while others are immersive, mysterious and at times haunting, however all are richly textured and complex. There’s a great fusion of sounds and rhythms that feel both familiar and exotic, as the duo fuse traditional Ghanaian instruments and influences with those of the London electronic scene.

I want to give special praise to Accra Electronica, which features what is easily one of the catchiest and most memorable rhythm I’ve ever heard in my life. As soon as you listen to the track you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about, as the unusual sound and melody employed stands out from the rest of the album. I find myself walking around whistling along to the song almost daily and I’m sure you will too.

There are tracks on the album that have an almost mysterious and esoteric feel to them, as if they hold a power that we the listener don’t quite understand. Part of this is due to the instrumental work on the album, with haunting wind instruments and ominous drum beats and electronic elements. Re-enforcing this atmosphere are haunting chants and sung segments that play off of the atmosphere of the tracks. A perfect example of this is Push Me Pull You.

The last track that I want to discuss specifically is the album’s title track A Trip To Bolgatanga. A song that works in influences from a number of different areas ranging from traditional Ghanaian music through to Afro-jazz and dub. The track has a seductive smoothness to it that captivates the listener and relaxes them while still remaining engaging. This is probably the chillest song on the album and I could listen to it on repeat all day.

Overall this is a fantastic release and one that was more than worth the wait since the 2020 release Churchical Chant Of The Iyabinghi. This is a release that transcends genre, culture and geography, creating something truly unique from elements of all three. If you are a fan of African music or experimental electronic music then this is essential listening. Surrender to the music and let it take you on a spiritual journey to distant lands and alternate planes of consciousness.

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