Animals of Africa: Sounds of the Jungle, Plain, & Bush (2002)
We get so intellectual some times about our music that we fail to see the beauty in simple things. After all, it's whether the sound conveys a situation or mood that matters. Some purists would even say that a musical instrument is a crutch for what can be done with the voice alone. Much can be communicated with a simple breath, no?
Well, this disc is all about the voice alone. But in this case that voice belongs to a resident of Kenya, Tanzania, or Uganda. It's an animal, quite literally: a leopard strutting around, feeling tough; or vervet monkeys calling back and forth about the situation. You get to hear many different vignettes on this disc, each one told from the perspective of a different African mammal.
The most obvious choice to feature in such a collection is the lion. Don't worry, he's there. For about three minutes, this guy shows he's one tough motherfucker and graciously allows his family to agree over dinner. That's three long minutes of lion, you realize. Of course there's also the elephant, hippo, and the rhino, each having something personal to say and the time to say it right. (12 animals, 2-3 minutes each.) In the case of the rhino, the topic is love, with a drama that unfolds when his romantic cries catch the attention of a lady rhino from afar. It's surreal.
Of all the creatures on this disc, the most unheralded vervet monkeys put on the best show. They engage in conversation, share information, and chat about life. So we don't really know the topic of the conversation? Who cares! They have a lot to say.
In all seriousness (no fingers crossed), this record is exactly what it says it is. The cries of these animals are unworldly: a collection of exotic tongues with amazing powers of communication. The reason the record's being reviewed here hangs on one fundamental premise.
Simple creatures can say a lot. (I believe they nicknamed Charlie Parker after one, didn't they?)
Track Listing: Leopard; Vervet Monkey; Hyrax; Rhinoceros; Zebra; Wildebeest; Lion; Hyena; Wild Dog; Silver-Backed Jackal; Elephant; Hippopotamus.
Personnel: Leopard; Vervet Monkey; Hyrax; Rhinoceros; Zebra; Wildebeest; Lion; Hyena; Wild Dog; Silver-Backed Jackal; Elephant; Hippopotamus.