With the turmoil of recent events in Africa — the terror of Boko Haram, the return of diseases thought cured, droughts and the impact of climate change — it’s almost with a great sigh of relief to hear Baka Beyond’s new recording “After the Tempest”. It’s like entering a secret world of joy, celebation, unity and humanity. It’s a world we all want and with Baka Beyond, it seems within reach. The voices of the Baka Forest People present in their rhythmic, intertwined complexity along side lilting guitars, lush percussion, joyous Gaelic and Baka singing and an inter-connectedness that truly touches the spirit. If you thought “world music” was a thing of the past, thing again. Baka Beyond are bringing forth their vision, refined for a new era and they’ve never sounded better.
It has been 21 years since Baka Beyond’s debut CD “Spirit of the Forest” was released helping to define the genre “World Music”. They have been constantly touring and releasing new albums since then, although their last release, “Beyond the Forest” was nearly 5 years ago. Now they return with the upcoming release (May 21st, 2014) After the Tempest.
Their work with the Baka Forest People, who originally inspired their sound, has meant that key players, Martin Cradick and Su Hart have taken several months off each year to work with the Baka in Cameroon, repaying the debt of their music. They set up the charity Global Music Exchange to facilitate this. Martin & Clyde Kramer have just returned from working with the Baka musicians in Cameroon. (www.forestvoices.com)
Recently Baka Beyond have had something of a renaissance. The injection of some young blood in the form of Clyde Kramer on drums (who has spent several months himself playing music with the Baka in the forests of Cameroon) and Ellie Jamison on vocals (who 10 years ago at the age of 18 toured with Baka Beyond and is on their album “East to West”) has invigorated their sound.
Baka Beyond’s tour last November around Britain was very well received. Once it was over they went straight to Penpont Estate in Wales to provide live music for a version of William Shakespeare’s “The Tempest”, a first for them. 2 tracks on the new album, “Ariel’s Song” and “Full Fathom Five” are from this production. Baka Beyond’s interpretations of the Baka women’s magical singing is perfect for setting the scene in this most mystic and musical of Shakespeare’s plays.
The new album is more of a “band album” than their last release “Beyond the Forest”. They will be performing all of the songs at their forthcoming tours in UK in the spring and in Canada this summer. The interplay between Clyde’s drumming and Ayo’s percussion particularly give the album a vibrant “live”feel.