Former WHITEHOUSE noise terrorist William Bennett has never shied away from controversy, as anyone familiar with that duo is fully aware. While working solo as CUT HANDS, some of the more obviously unsavory elements of his art have been toned down, but that is not to say the project does not bring up some problematic issues. Of course, Bennett is not the first white artist to work with the concepts and rituals of Haitian voodoo and ritual magic. Maya Deren comes to mind, and I’m sure there are others. The fact that his art can kickstart this sort of conversation is itself a testament to its efficacy.
With that out of the way, let’s talk about the LP at hand. For some of the songs on Festival of the Dead, Bennett recorded many, many different versions with only the one which best fit the mood of the entire record eventually making the cut. Others were meticulously whittled down from twenty minute plus runtimes. The amount of thought and effort he put into Festival of the Dead paid off: the listener can hear CUT HANDS’ aesthetic being pushed to its limits as Bennett tests himself and works harder and smarter than on any previous releases. The Haitian and African tribal rhythms are still present, but broken up with more variation in tempo and sound palate than on previous recordings.
The two main tools of Bennett’s trade remain unchanged: percussion and volume. It’s remarkable how much he can do with the self-imposed restraints of his style, and I look forward to hearing him evolve this project even further.
Festival of the Dead is available now from Blackest Ever Black.