Baka Beyond

East to West

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It would be easy, and not entirely wrong, to think of Baka Beyond as an acoustic Afro-Celt Sound System. They certainly cover a lot of the same territory, mixing Celtic and West/Central African music. But Baka Beyond has strong roots in both Cameroon (where the group has been close with the Pygmies) and Scotland, and both show up on this disc. "Ra-Li-O" and "Wandering Spirit" both take a turn into Gaelic mouth music, while "Awaya Baka" is a definite trip to the heart of the Cameroonian jungle with wonderful, loping beats. In a lot of ways, East to West is a continuation and refinement of what they've done on their last albums, although there's less reliance than ever on the samples of the Baka people (which only occur on two tracks). There's also more of an edge to the material. The years of integrating Africa and the Celts has made them smooth operators, able to shift gears and styles in a heartbeat, and without the seams showing. Satisfying, if not necessarily deep, East to West is never less than a pleasant listen.

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