African Head Charge

Shrunken Head

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AllMusic Review by

The thing about Bonjo Iabinghi Noah (aka Bonjo I, aka African Head Charge) is that some of his albums have been simply brilliant while others have been simply unlistenable. For that reason, a carefully selected best-of is just what the doctor ordered, and it's long overdue -- Bonjo I had been making albums under the African Head Charge moniker since 1981, and his last full-length studio effort came out a good five years before the release of Shrunken Head. His signature sound -- a bizarre but highly effective pastiche of reggae and nyahbinghi rhythms, sampled field recordings, and dark, sometimes downright frightening production leavened by cheerful messages of social and spiritual uplift -- has always marked African Head Charge as a strange musical bird even by On-U Sound's quite tolerant standards. Shrunken Head brings together some of the best African Head Charge material from the 1980s and 1990s: highlights include the seminal "Pursuit," which features an eerily altered Prince Far I vocal over equally eerie samples of bells and field recordings of pygmy chants, a chugging new version of "You Learn," and a 7" single mix of "Run Come See." "Language & Mentality" features the sampled vocals of Albert Einstein. There are two brand new tracks, the best of which is the psychedelically beautiful "Who Are You?." But really, nothing on this album is less than weirdly wonderful. Shrunken Head offers the best entry point to date into African Head Charge's bizarre and fascinating musical universe.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 3:56 Amazon
2 5:07 Amazon
3 5:19 Amazon
4 4:35 Amazon
5 5:02 Amazon
6 4:02 Amazon
7 4:22 Amazon
8 4:05 Amazon
9 4:50 Amazon
10 7:47 Amazon
11 3:37 Amazon
12 4:18 Amazon
13 3:42 Amazon
14 3:34 Amazon
15 5:10 Amazon
16 6:06 Amazon
17 3:35 Amazon
blue highlight denotes track pick