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Mbuti Pygmies of Ituri Rainforest
Various Artists
Mbuti Pygmies of Ituri Rainforest
Genres: World Music, Pop
  •  Track Listings (26) - Disc #1

The music of the Mbuti is primarily focused around vocal music and this recording beautifully captures the extraordinary variety and tonal quality of the solo and choral traditions. The songs are primarily about the Mbuti'...  more »


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CD Details

All Artists: Various Artists
Title: Mbuti Pygmies of Ituri Rainforest
Members Wishing: 2
Total Copies: 0
Label: Smithsonian Folkways
Release Date: 7/13/1992
Genres: World Music, Pop
Style: Africa
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPCs: 093074040126, 093074040140


Album Description
The music of the Mbuti is primarily focused around vocal music and this recording beautifully captures the extraordinary variety and tonal quality of the solo and choral traditions. The songs are primarily about the Mbuti's nomadic life and the forest, from which their lives and those of the animal kingdom are sustained. This compilation set a new standard for quality ethnic field recordings for all labels in ethnic music. These prized recordings have been remastered and resequenced to reflect Dr. Turnbull's original mode: the recording begins in the forest with music associated with hunting and gathering, then moves to the village for a Bantu initiation ritual and finally returns to the forest for the Mbuti rituals. This record documents the music discussed in the book The Forest People, read by many anthropology classes. A superbly annotated favorite among world music enthusiasts. "...from the moment Colin Turnbull lets the chatter and work rhythms of the encampment he's approaching engulf the jungle's ambient insect and bird music, I'm hooked." -- The Village Voice

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CD Reviews

Genius in the forest
Pharoah S. Wail | Inner Space | 06/29/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I've had this cd for 4 or 5 years and have always loved it, but just now as I was browsing this site I realized I never wrote a review for it.

This disc is fantastic. It collects the recordings from 2 previous LPs and is a collection of 1950s field-recordings from the Democratic Republic of Congo (Zaire at the time these recordings were made).

This is largely vocal music. A feast of layered, rhythmic, cyclical vocal repetition. When trying to describe this music to a Westerner, I usually say that this must be the music that inspired Philip Glass' overall concept, except that Mbuti music is so much better, deeper, transportational and more emotional. He fails at what they have mastered. I lose myself in the rhythmic repetition of these voices. There are times when I listen to this cd where I feel like I have been zapped 10,000 years back in time. This is just purely spiritual music, and one of the most technically advanced ancient rainforest musics I've ever heard (at least so far). There's no Western influence to water it down or take away from its traditional power.

I rarely use the word "genius" to describe people, because I feel that word is thrown around like nothing, quite often. In the case of the Mbuti's though, I feel that genius fits perfectly. Probably 98% of their musical tradition is ensemble vocal music, yet in the couple instances where they do use instruments (often borrowed or stolen from outsiders, the liner-notes say), they are just as incredible. There are a few mbira (thumb piano) tracks on here that are beautiful. Some of the best mbira music I've ever heard. They also seem to be just as adept with musical sticks and musical bows. For a people who seem to not care about instruments one way or the other, they seem to master everything they touch, no matter how briefly.

This is an excellent cd. One of my favorites."
Songs of the Rainforest Pygmies
Pharoah S. Wail | 05/19/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I bought this record in the 60's and someone in my family absconded with it. So I was thrilled to find it on CD. It brings one immediately to the environment of the Ituri rainforest. I used to listen to it overlooking a lake during summer rain storms in Minnesota. There is one cut missing. It's the tribal members using rhythm sticks and singing what is the melody for "O My Darling Clementine" in their own language with all sorts of call and response and harmonies. I would have liked that included. Otherwise, it is soothing and transports you to another world."