Baka Beyond

The Meeting Pool

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Baka Beyond employs many different ethnic influences to create their unique style. The most noticeable elements are Celtic, exemplified by the fiddle of French musician Paddy LeMercier, and of course Baka. The Baka are the Pygmies of Cameroon. Guitarist and group leader Martin Cradick has spent a fair amount of time with them, and he incorporates samples of their music and environmental sounds onto several tracks. Even where the Baka themselves are not heard from, their music is. Several of the numbers are based on Baka tunes, and the two female vocalists, Su Hart and Kate Budd, strive to sing in a Baka style. The overall effect is upbeat but mellow. One thing that Craddick lost when he broke up with Outback bandmate Graham Wiggins is Wiggins' fire (Wiggins on the other hand lost Cradick's subtlety). Still, Meeting Pool has moments of real piquancy, as on "Ohureo," a traditional from the Western Isles of Scotland. This macabre lullaby, dressed up with African drums and LeMercier's fiddle commentary, is achingly entrancing. More propulsive is "Meeting of Tribes," a Cradick original that features music and instruments from four continents, including the didjeridu. On the surface this music may sound a bit mild, but at its heart lie deep emotions fueled by wonder. Beautiful.

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