Selected Recordings of Bayaka Music by Louis Sarno
Song from the Forest: The Soundtrack
Having not yet seen Michael Obert’s 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 film’s 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. It’s a compellingly unique story, saying much about the changing world as one individual’s 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, ‘find’ 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. []

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