African Head Charge

Off the Beaten Track

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In 1986, when African Head Charge released this album it was a newly remade ensemble lead by a percussionist and including a live kit drums, melodica/keyboardist, and bass backed by samples and tape loops. The resulting album still sounds modern, fresh, and innovative in the electronica plethora. Programmed chants and unexpected sounds (barking dogs, breaking glass, etc.) are salient features of this rhythmic, international dub. Particularly strong tracks are the title cut (featuring Jah Wobble on bass) and the ambient selection "Language & Mentality," crafted around an Albert Einstein monologue of the same name. These lengthy and dense loops and samples are showcased in attenuated, flowing rhythm beds. Largely made of slinky rhythms from a segmented funk, Off the Beaten Track is both a landmark recording in the use of sound-bite technology and an excellent example of the integration of live instrumentation and programmed music. A listen to this album makes the convincing suggestion that it is most other electronic composers that are indeed off the beaten track when it comes to producing vital beat music for dancing and listening.

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