Polar Opposites–Inventing a New World

Another World is Possible
Various Artists – Another World is Possible (Uncivilized
World/Koch Entertainment, 2005)

Baka Beyond – Rhythm Tree (March Hare Music, 2005)

The World As We Think We Know It

I believe that another world is possible, but I believe that we, humans need to cut to the chase in order to create this new world and we have a limited time to do that. Sustainable communities already exist in various enclaves around the world, organic farming is on the rise and neighbors around the globe are taking their communities back, one communal garden at a time, one new school at a time,
one new cooperative at a time. You get the point, we need to roll up our sleeves and make this happen. At the moment, while various leaders and communities are welcoming organic gardens into their cities, creating new schools for children that teach how to live sustainable lives and micro-lending banks pop up like mushrooms around the globe, there are still people focused on all the evils of the world such as the WTO and the World Bank. It’s easy to find a target in which to direct our anger.

We always need someone to blame, but when we blame others for all the problems in the world, even if those entities are the cause some of those problems, we give our power away. Angry songs just make us feel angrier and we’ll never find peace through flinging angry words and violent sentiments out into the world. Fear is fear no matter who it’s coming from, liberal or conservative, poor or the wealthy elite. If it doesn’t feel like love or compassion, then don’t go there. Just a reminder, love is inclusive, hatred is exclusive. Love never blames anyone, but implements change through nurturing and acting on intuition. Nurture your communities, nurture children and nurture each other even if you
don’t agree on the important elements of life on the planet. Love blossoms everywhere and brings hope. Hope is the medicine and food we need now and we need this to come from the music we listen to, the words that we read and the words that we speak to one another.

It’s true we need to take action if we wish to live in a more balanced world, but if we are not coming from a place of love or peace, we will only add to the destruction of the planet. If we want a more sustainable lifestyle then we just need to find a way to create it. Join with others in your community in turning an empty lot into an organic garden that will feed the hungry. Support alternative energy sources such as windmills and solar energy by joining organizations that bring those technologies to developing communities and nations worldwide. Support micro-lending non-profits that set up cooperatives in villages and communities around the world. In other words, do something positive
instead of making list of everything that is corrupt in the world. Besides, there isn’t any single person that can solve all of the world problems, but each person can focus on an area that moves them and which they can lend their various talents. It’s hard to rally against anyone or anything when you are in the midst of creating positive change.

As musicians or promoters, you can raise awareness for sustainable projects in your own community and beyond through compilation albums or benefit concerts. One example of a positive awareness campaign was the Eden Project’s Call of Africa festival which brought to attention not only work that needs to be done to help undeveloped African nations, but also shared the rich cultures from African nations with us. It’s ironic that many of us would trade the “American dream” for a life so rich in culture. We are hungry for it.

The Multimedia Project Another World is Possible

It’s nothing new when musicians appear on a compilation to support their favorite cause. In this case, the cause is the entire planet. Another World is Possible features both world pop and alternative music groups telling us why they’re fed up with corporations or the WTO. Twenty years ago this
sentiment would have been acceptable to me, now sadly, it just nauseates me. The press release mentions that these artists are walking their talk, yet their anti-globalization rhetoric doesn’t hit home with me, at least not with the artists signed to major labels such as EMI or Sony. What is it that they don’t quite grasps about globalization? The artists on smaller labels can at least
support their anti-globalization claims because they’re not dropping money into mega-giant corporation coffers. As artists and consumers, we need to be careful where we place our energy or where we spend our money. If want the rest of the world to change, then it is as Gandhi once said, that change begins with us. Then again, the CEO’s at EMI, Virgin and Sony could suddenly experience epiphanies and decide that love is more important than profit.

Overall I am disappointed with this compilation, but some of the musical tracks on this multimedia project are worth a mention. The reggae, ska or dub tracks by The Skatalites, Lee Scratch Perry and Tiken Jah Fakoli feel peaceful.Salif Keita, Idir and Manu Chao also deliver strong material. In fact, Keita’s track, Baba is absolutely gorgeous and this CD’s crowning glory. The other half of the project, a hardback book, includes essays by Noam Chomsky, Josè Bovè, Naomi Klein, Arundhati Roy and others telling us about social issues, that anyone gleaning world events from alternative news sources will be aware. Still for some people, it will be a pleasure to have all of these gifted essayist in one place.

I am glad that people care enough to put together awareness projects such as this multimedia one. However, those of us who are already aware need to create new communities that will comprise a sustainable world. With so many natural catastrophes in the wake and an uncertain future, we need to start making some huge lifestyle changes now, not after certain entities are removed from power.
We need to support sustainability by living it and not just talking about it. In order to do that we need to change our hearts and change our minds about where true power lies and stop giving our power away. With your hearts, minds and hands, you can make a difference in the world through your actions more so than your opinions (yes, I do see the irony of me writing this review, it is after all rife with my opinions).

When a person comes from a love, she can work miracles with the smallest of tasks. Even a person of little means can join others in making a difference. It is a discredit to treat anyone no matter what their circumstances as a victim because everyone can contribute to the world, even if it is wisdom from being born to whatever circumstances. Someone who has experienced poverty might have a better understanding of how to remedy their circumstances than a renowned academic versed in global economics who has never experienced economic hardship first hand. If we want to hear solutions, we must listen for them and that takes a great deal of humility for all of us.

So far and for centuries, we have been wrong about the world and the destruction around us proves that. Only an inner revolution will be successful at this point. Only a radical departure from fearful thinking to total surrender of the Great Unknown will save this planet. Face it, the old ways no longer work, thinking analytically won’t solve the myriad of problems that stare us in the face, fighting the good fight only leads to dualism and music that often sound like alternative news, isn’t going to bring us peace of mind. There was a time when music was sacred and a time when music did bring community together. In some cases it still is and does, but only if we stay mindful of the power of our musical offerings. Music should lift the soul and not bring despair to our hearts. We desperately need an oasis and it’s wonderful when music provides that. Thankfully, many musicians around the world know this. Despair won’t feed your soul, but joy will allow you to endure the most unimaginable situations in which you might find yourselves. You choose which emotions you desire to
experience. And ask yourself what kind of world you want to live in, one in which people rally against one another, or one in which people throw down their swords and learn to communicate through non-violence? Music is one of the greatest gifts given to humankind, let’s use it to heal the planet.

Baka Beyond—True Power to the People

Beginning in 1992, Martin Cradick and Su Hart (Baka Beyond) fell in love with the Baka pygmies of Cameroon and have made regular visits to work on both musical and humanitarian projects related to the Baka people. In 1993, Baka Beyond, a global band, based in Bath, England released Spirit of the Forest which highlighted tribal music of the Baka people and over the years the band released several collaborative albums with the Baka people.

Su and Martin have also garnered frequent flyer miles, built a sustainable recording studio and cemented a bond with the Baka community. A portion of royalties from sales of Baka Beyond’s CDs is returned to the Baka people and is used for the good of their community. Today the Baka people have an association which gives them legal status, they have their first nightclub in Cameroon’s deep forest, a recording studio that is solar powered, a health clinic that relies on alternative medicine and they are preserving their culture. And their traditional drumming, chanting and musical prowess are receiving international recognition.

During this 13 year journey, the relationship of the members of Baka Beyond which includes musicians from Great Britain, France, and various African countries and the Baka people has reaped their own genre of music beyond Afro-Celtic fare. A beautiful marriage between African and Celtic music traditions has emerged with out unnecessary electronic manipulation. It’s as if the natural cadence of Celtic music and the polyrhythms of the Baka people were fated to flow into one another, all the pieces fit perfectly into a musical jig saw puzzle and the results are astounding. Baka Beyond’s latest CD, Rhythm Tree, is not just a humanitarian effort. It also represents musical progression that occurred because the musicians honored trust and friendship. Baka Beyond’s music has blossomed over the years and currently is in full bloom. Their guitars, (performed by Cradick and Baka musicians, Pelembir Dieudonne and
Mbeh Prosper), anchor solidly to warm bass and polyrhythms as well as, supporting lush vocal harmonies of both the Celtic and indigenous origins. This music not only has its intentions in the right place, but offers an earful of rhythms, melodies, harmonies and tribal chants.

On the title track, infectious polyrhythms, tribal calls, a mouth harp, guitars, a cacophony of deep forests sounds and Celtic flute are seamlessly woven into the song. Like all of the tracks on the CD, this song also possesses relentless effervescence. The Celtic classic is a song Su shared with the Baka people around campfires, and on this recording it features lilting harmonies sung by Su and Denise Rowe. Bright sounds of Congolese guitar also pepper this CD and can be heard on Boulez Boulez and other tracks. Hush Hush, an old Scottish tune, reflects on indigenous people losing their land in the name of progress. And finally the bird-like traditional chants called “yelli,” (used to charm animals for a successful hunt), begins and ends this CD experience. In that respect, the ten songs here feel like a ritual with a beginning, middle and an end. We are left with a hopeful feeling that we can all live together peacefully on the planet, building studios, making music, and giving others legal identities. We can protect the earth and its stewards. What more can anyone desire? Su and
Martin are living the best life possible, in my opinion, while also providing listeners with a humanitarian soundtrack that is a feast for ears and hearts. Visit Baka Beyond’s site where you can purchase CDs, watch videos and make a donation.

The Baka Beyond review is complements of Cranky Crow World Music

Buy Another World Is Possible and Baka Beyond’s Rhythm Tree and its other CDs: Spirit of the Forest, Meeting Pool, Heart of the Forest, East to West, Journey Between, Sogo, and Baka Beyond Presents Ete.

Author: PatriciaHerlevi

Patricia Herlevi is a former music journalist turned music researcher. She is especially interested in raising music consciousness. She is looking for an agent and publisher for her book Whole Music (Soul Food for the Mind Body Spirit). She founded and hosts the blog
The Whole Music Experience and has contributed to World Music Central since 2003.