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Informative and listenable

By Louis Sarno and various artists

Ellipsis Arts: 1996

This review first appeared in the January 19, 1996 issue of the North County Times.

So ... is this a book about the Babenzele pygmies accompanied by a CD of their music, or a CD of the music of the Babenzele pygmies with the most detailed liner notes ever produced?

Take your pick, because it really doesn't matter: This is a multimedia experience without the computer.

The 93-page hardcover book, illustrated with color photos and containing informative articles by anthropologist Louis Sarno, is as popularly accessible as any Time-Life science series, and is probably more accurate as Sarno actually lived among the Bayaka tribe.

The music was recorded in the field by Sarno and produced by famed natural sounds recording expert Bernie Krause. It includes ceremonial and celebratory music, both instrumental and vocal.

Admittedly, the music of the Bayaka is foreign to American ears. Its sing-song melodicism takes some getting used to. But there is something comforting to it – it is more listenable than you might think, and there is something in there that is very universal.