Before we get into the new album by the world-beat collective, Baka Beyond, let’s get something straight about the name. In Japan, “baka” may be what you call your boss behind his back, but this four-letter word also denotes the pygmy tribe indigenous to the rain forests near the Cameroon/Congo border.
Multi-instrumentalists Martin Cradick and Su Hart spent the winter of 1992 with the Baka. “Heart of the Forest,” a collection of the tribe’s bright, primal songcraft, was the result. Baka Beyond sprang from the desire to weave these jungle sounds into the British duo’s own north European heritage. Dubbed Afro-Celt fusion, the music mixed African instruments like the djembe and kora with mandolins, uilleannpipes and other devices with Gaelic musical roots. Their influences now span continents, but the Baka people remain the guests of honor at this world party. Cradick and Hart still frequent Lupe, the tribe’s jungle hamlet, where they cowrite with the villagers and use the royalties from BB’s five albums to help the tribe maintain its culture.
Read the entire review at The Japan Times Online .