This is William Bennett’s first “solo” album. After 30 years of provoking distaste and death threats with Whitehouse, the musical pariah has (at long last) found himself actively courted by the same musical press for the last 3 releases in the bands illustrious back catalogue that effectively blacklisted him.
Why is this? Well, trends come and go, but the Bennett’s unwillingness to compromise and explain his art has always left us with no author’s guidance. We’ve always had to process his work through the prism of our own personal hang-ups and that leaves a lot of critics with an uncomfortable void that they have to fill with their own prejudices and perversions.
Cut Hands is the logical continuation of the heavy African / Haitian-influenced percussive work that marked out “Racket”, ‘”Ascetsists” and “Bird Seed”. Three of the tracks are re-worked pieces from these previous albums (“Nzambi la Lufua”, “Munkisi Munkondi” and “Bia Mintatu”) and sit amongst 10 new compositions. According to the booklet notes, which contain short pieces by Bennet and booklet designer Mimsy DeBlois these pieces were composed over a period of several years.
One might be tempted to say it’s the type of album Eno might make if he was in a bad mood. Percussion is the key underpinning element – battering rams soaked in ambient dread generated through Bennett’s precise use of sound.
The opening track “Welcome To The Feast of Trumpets” sets the tone. A simple rhythm set against a muted horn drones that welcomes you into this album’s heart of darkness. It’s not unpleasant, but it does create foreboding.
Throughout the release djembes, doundouns, ksings and acoustic drums are mixed with modern electronics. Pieces like “Rain Washes Over Chaff”, “Four Crosses” and “Impassion” are absolutely cinematic in their scope and feel, whilst “Who No Know Go Knows” acoustic drumming has almost (to these ears at least) quite a jazz feel.
I’ve listened to this album four or five times since I received it on Friday and for a (largely) instrumental album it’s density, darkness and power has meant I’m constantly drawn back to it. Already, for me, contender for album of the year.
I honestly don’t think it’ll be like anything you’ve heard before.
Note – you can pre-order the album here.
Also check out – ATTN: Magazine interview with William Bennett