Afro Celt Sound System's first album is, as their name says, a clever and in parts quite stunning mix of Celtic & world music that garnered huge praise and success on its release. But despite its ingenuity it's an odd record, veering often incongruously between "dance" music and much slower and occasionally quite turgid world/folk. Truth is that it's the more upbeat club/dance tracks, in particular the outstanding "Sure-As-Not/Sure-As-Knot", "Whirl-Y-Reel 1" & Whirl-Y-Reel 2", that make it come alive and which justify a great deal of the praise heaped on it.
So... if you want to discover similarly inspired, upbeat dance/world music where to? Well, Afro Celt's second album - "Release" - moves them much closer to the club area but, while good, loses a lot of the melodic intricacy & instrumental interplay that made "Sound Magic" such a success; better to go for their third outing - "Further in Time" - which more effectively combines the inspired enthusiasm of their early tracks with the driving club beats of "Release".
Better still, check-out their virtually unknown UK contemporaries, Elephant Talk, whose difficult to find albums follow a similarly infectious, more jazz tinged club/world "fusion" formula with more consistently upbeat and enjoyable results. Check out Amazon.co.uk for Elephant Talk's first two albums, "In a Big Sea" and the even better "Head", and the group's own web site at [...] for their quite brilliant last release "Leap". You won't be disappointed but you may be left wondering how such equally innovative and exciting music can remain so little known.