Adrian Phillips has a listen to not one but two new releases by Baka Beyond and aserts that western artists like Peter Gabriel, One Giant Leap and Simon ‘Afro-Celt’ Emerson have often used original field recordings as the basis for many a finished track, but never have they released them in their own right - cue a flood of emails to the contrary.
Martin Cradick and Baka Beyond have marked their 8th studio album Baka Beyond the Forest by doing just that with the release of the sister, or rather mother, project Baka in the Forest.
For my money these ‘originals’ are for purists only, but the emotive power and simplicity of five Pygmy sisters performing night-time ritual songs, Yelli, and solo forest yodelling cannot be denied. Especially when backed by water drumming and native instruments like the ngombi na peke; a forest harp made from raffia palm, which sound as chilled as the most frozen Margarita.
What makes these joint releases so interesting is when you hear the source material incorporated into the more ‘produced’ version. The unadorned form is seamlessly woven together with the more familiar sounds of guitar, violin, bass, Ulian Pipes and Celtic vocals to create an intoxicating blend that allows the listener to feel the authenticity in a way that other ‘fusion’ albums sometimes smother.
I am not going to highlight any particular track because Baka Beyond the Forest is best heard in it’s entirety but I will say that certain tracks reminded me of Paul Simon’s Rhythm of the Saints when that album was at its best.
Martin and his wife Su Hart first visited the Baka at the beginning of 1992 and the subsequent musical collaborations make me very glad they did.
The album of field recordings of the Baka Women will be released on 18th May by March Hare Music.