Spirit of the Forest - Baka Beyond
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Spirit of the Forest
- The Man Who Danced Too Slowly
- Baka Play Baka
- Eeya Bé (Elephant Song)
- Canya Jam
"After seeing a documentary on Channel 4, Martin Cradick and his wife Su Hart packed a tent, tape recorder, camera, guitar and mandolin, and headed off into the forests of Cameroon. There they spent six weeks living, hunting, gathering and playing many hours of music together with the Baka Pygmies. From this experience came two delightful recordings.
"The first, Heart of the Forest, is what you might call the "pure" stuff. With 21 short tracks, we're introduced to the vocal, string and percussive traditions developed by the Baka people.....For a field recording, all the tracks are surprisingly clear.
"With all of this fantastic source material to spark him, Martin returned to England to record an album. Unlike Deep Forest , he chose not to plug samples from his field recordings into unrelated backing tracks. Instead he drew upon his past world fusion experience as a founder of the group Outback. He created a set of tunes that are either "covers" of traditional Baka melodies or new pieces based on the inspiration he received by playing with them. The result is an album full of joyous music. The title cut opens the album with the sounds of the forest, crickets and birds soft in the background. From out of this backdrop drifts the sound of a yelli being sung in the distance. Baka percussion jumps in, followed by some Andreas Vollenweider-like guitar lines that carry the tune picked up from the vocals.
"Cradick's guitar work is a real standout throughout this whole recording. His playing is clean, unornamented and without any distractive pretentiousness. His comfort with different musical styles gives each track a different flavour. "The Man Who Danced Too Slowly", named after a Baka myth, has a distinct samba feel to it, while "Ngombi" is reminiscent of early Bruce Cockburn. The guitar playing on this album is beautifully complemented by Paddy Le Mercier's flute and violin accompaniment. I'm also impressed by the percussion tracks, which are almost entirely adopted from Cradick's field recordings of Baka Musicians.
"As mentioned in the liner notes for Spirit of the Forest, there is no difference in the Baka language between the word for "song" and the word for "dance". Listening to this album one can understand why."
Reproduced from a review by David Blank-Edelman in Rhythm Music Magazine
A portion of the royalties of this album will be returning to the Baka and their community through the charity Global Music Exchange.