Various Artists - Song from the Forest OST CD (Gruenrekorder 2014)

Having not yet seen Michael Obertís film the music here is from renders this harder to put into context, but going by what I understand from the accompanying booklet most of the songs originated from the Bayaka Pygmies in southwestern Central Africa. Each entry was recorded by the filmís subject, Louis Sarno, an American who one day, in the mid-1980s, became enchanted with such a song himself on the radio and not only took himself to the place in the Congo it was sourced from but ended up staying there, adapting to the Bayaka way of life, marrying a Bayaka woman, having children and recording over 1500 hours of music. Itís a compellingly unique story, saying much about the changing world as one individualís quest to escape the west he grew up in in order to apply new meaning to his life a world away from those trust-funded travelers who take a year out to, uh, Ďfindí themselves. Although it equally arrives with a plethora of questions, it is hard to take away what Sarno has done to document his adopted tribe or draw attention to both their situation and that of others amongst their neighbours.

The songs here range from yodelling to simplistic combinations of chanting, percussion and stringed instruments being melodically plucked. Interspersed throughout are insect and other such sounds from the jungle, snatches of women singing amongst the trees, a game where chimpanzee sounds are emulated and, indeed, some narration from Sarno himself. Everything adds up to a whole as equally beguiling and compelling as, Iím sure, whatever that first song was Sarno heard on the radio before transforming his life. Whilst I wonít be following in his footsteps, I do now wish to see this film, at least. This stunning document, put together with great care and affection, couldnít serve as a more suitable conduit for anybody wishing to expand their knowledge of those lesser charted places in the world around us. Superb. RJ.

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