Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Mbuti Pygmies of the Ituri Rain Forest [Smithsonian/Folkways, 1992]
I've never had much use for ethnographic recordings, and I'm not converted. But 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. Though "Elephant Hunting Song" is almost protodoowop, that's not the point--most of these songs are as environmental for me as they are, in an entirely different way, for the parttime folk artists who weave-them-into-the-fabric-of-their-lives. Backed by more fauna, the rituals at the end have an eerie power. But I'm equally impressed that after Pakasi blows on his just-carved flute for a few minutes, he throws it away. A-