As is the case with most African rhythmic music, it usually serves some sort of spiritual purpose, the ritualistic quality of many different beats and melodies designed to inspire, enlighten and heal--such as the one-two rhythm of the Rastafarians, mimicking the heartbeat, said to bring calmness, love and understanding.
Considering these quite heavy connotations that are attached to African rhythmic music, as a modern commercial performer in the genre, it’s quite easy to come across as a sell-out or a wannabe. Cut Hands DJ, William Bennet, has managed to surpass this accusation by instead creating soundscapes that are attributed to, but not based on, the aforementioned ancient rhythms. The dystopian measures wash over the listener in cadent waves, incorporating modern sounds but staying true to its origin, usually utilizing a single hollow bass drum beat, scratching taps and shuffles of snares and hats, and the occasional futuristic grind or drop.
It’s surprising how much originality can stem from such a simple formula, but Cut Hands’ new album, Festival of the Dead, has born some pretty crazy and original tracks. The intro song “The Claw” sets an appropriate mood for the next 45 minutes of gnashing, wailing, trapping and jamming. Preceded by the rather overrated Damballah 58, Festival of the Dead is a suitable progression for Bennet in his study of rhythm. Although his sound is certainly remarkable and unique, it would have been interesting to see a slight break in the conspicuous formula he’s built up, like the incorporation of a subtle melody, but perhaps that would defy the whole point of his music. Anyway, I’m confident he’ll find his way forward on his own time.
- Fin Worrall