The Second Coming
DJ Cut Hands Has the Solution
Photo by Muir Vidler
Hands up who’s always wished that somebody could make a record that was partly inspired by things like the traumatic stories of genocide from We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will be Killed With Our Families: Stories From Rwanda by Philip Gourevitch?
Yeah, me neither, but the weird news is that somebody’s just made it and the result is one of the freshest, most exciting “noise” records anybody’s released for years.
Cut Hands: Afro Noise 1 is an extremely intense 50-minute blast of instrumental power electronics mixed with traditional African percussion that is as visceral and dramatic as anything the guy who made it has ever done in his other group, Whitehouse. You know about those guys, right?
Vice: How did this new project come about? To me it’s like Whitehouse scoring one of those mondo films about Africa that Italian people would make in the 70s.
William Bennett (aka DJ Cut Hands): It goes back about ten to 15 years now after beginning explorations into maskwork in drama and its origins in African voodoo. You can trace elements of this back to music I’ve been making for the last decade or so. Now it’s right out in the open, come right out of hiding.
How do you make it? There’s a rumour that you play bongos on it?
Yeah. I’ve been building up a collection of djembes, doun douns, ksings [the metal rattling bits you attach to the djembe], bells, all sorts—most of the stuff is from Ghana, some from Congo and Sierra Leone and Nigeria. I did some classes but my goal isn’t to emulate African music as such because it’d be pointless to try, but use the intent and the energy and the potency of the sounds themselves. It’s a joy to be working in a domain so far removed from the drudgery of drum machines and sequencers
Will there be vocals on it?
The human voice, yes, but perhaps not in the way most people would understand it.
It’s very powerful stuff. How would you describe the feeling the music gives the listener?
First you feel a tingling sensation, followed by palpitations, and finally, frothing at the mouth. Actually, I’m not making that up. At industrial-strength volumes this stuff will take you over. My own unproven theory is that the brain, usually so adept at recognising musical patterns, can’t keep up with the increasingly complex polyrhythms. You run out of body parts to move and then it invades your mind and creates an altered state.
What is happening with Whitehouse now? You recently played your last shows with Philip Best.
It will continue. It means too much to me at this stage—how, why, what, or with whom, I just don’t know right now.
What was the reason Phil left?
Things have to change and move on, and it was the right moment for that. There’s no animosity, he’s got his own project which I know will be great.
That’d be the Consumer Electronics stuff. How were the last Whitehouse shows?
They were rather emotional actually which my cold heart didn’t notice until it was done. So many people came up afterwards and said the most touching things and it really meant a lot, especially after so many years in the 80s and beyond fighting blindly in a lone wilderness. It still is like that to a certain extent but in different ways.
Cut Hands: Afro Noise 1 49:45 is out through Susan Lawly and can be heard at afronoise.blogspot.com and djcuthands.blogspot.com