Determining signs must always be recognized.
Usually, when this reviewer spends time with a promising record that fails to deliver, another CD is placed in the player straight away in an instinctive gesture. And when the second item acts as an instant catalyzer of corroborative feelings and improved energies – in opposition to the “been there, done that” feeling related to the preceding listen – the lingering impression is that of having achieved an unexpected goal without lucky coincidences. This is exactly what happened with Song From The Forest. The invisible hand that pushed yours truly towards this magnificent disc had not given any advance information. What was learned, already at the first spin, is more important than merely memorizing the circumstances leading to the movie soundtracked by Louis Sarno’s recordings of Bayaka Pygmies, of which we find fifteen examples herein.
As an illiterate “fan” of Pygmy chanting (a kind of proto-minimalism, to quote Frank Zappa yet again), my meeting with Bayaka music conjured up visions of possibilities for an intelligently modest life. Something that most humans seem to have completely discarded, in their incessant quest for excessive wealth and ephemeral prestige, is surviving by following the truest laws of nature. Extracting mesmerizing patterns from found/invented instruments; welcoming a guest with masterfully interlaced melodies; making fun of the short serviceability of male organs in a mockingly sex-tinged, all-female tune. All practices that by now belong to forgotten spheres and places. This fusion of uncontaminated joy, admirably tuned vocalization, wooden and watery rhythms and environmental echoes is out-and-out curative. The room becomes a space for decaying beliefs to regain their integrity; failures and anxieties are waved off for a while. The Bayaka cosmos encompasses everything that has a pulse – animal or less – to shape the listener’s impermanence into substantial wonderment.