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morgan1098 (Colorado Springs, Colorado USA)

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Capture (1995 - 2010)
Capture (1995 - 2010)
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: 11.66

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sound Magic indeed!, 13 Sep 2010
This review is from: Capture (1995 - 2010) (Audio CD)
From the start, the music was different--disarmingly, almost frighteningly so. Here was the sound of African drums, a doudouk, some wicked cool synth drones and an Irish voice straight out of the netherworld all wrapped up in one spooky dirge called "Inion/Daughter." And it didn't sound kitschy or forced like some of the other "world fusion" music that had emerged in the early 90s. The sound was something beautiful, like the invention of a new language.

It was the spring of 1996, and the first Afro Celt Sound System song was making its debut on a sampler disc called Realworld Notes #2. By the time the debut album (Sound Magic) was released in July, it was clear that there was no stopping this spontaneous collective of musicians. Singles were released, remixes were commissioned, and the rave reviews started pouring in. Not bad for an album that had zero English-language vocals on it and a track list that had to be subtitled just to make it pronounceable to the average record buyer.

The runaway success of SOUND MAGIC took everyone by surprise, perhaps even the band members themselves. Additional albums were planned and a new contract was signed posthaste for what had become the biggest-selling act (outside of Peter Gabriel himself) on the Realworld Records label. With the passage of time, English-language vocals started to appear alongside the African and Irish verses. Famous Guest Artists also got on board, most notably Sinead O'Connor (on Volume 2: Release), Peter Gabriel, Altan and Robert Plant (all on the pan-global behemoth Volume 3: Further In Time). New musical flavors entered the mix as well: dhol drums, tablas, and so on. Yet even while reaching for a wider audience, the Afro Celt Sound System never felt watered-down. With each new recording (which, in addition to the first three albums, included 2003's Seed, 2005's Anatomic and the 2004 remix project Pod [CD + DVD]), the band seemed to reinvent the wheel in terms of what was possible in the melding of traditional music and electronica.

Speaking of which, it must be said that club/dance music is just as integral to the Afro Celts' identity as the cultural influences from Africa, Ireland and beyond. Seriously, I defy you to find another dance/electronic act--The Prodigy, Orbital, Massive Attack, Royskopp-- that can do keyboards and programming with as much freshness and originality as Simon Emmerson, Martin Russell and their ACSS bretheren. Thank goodness they have resisted the urge to "go acoustic" or embrace straight "roots music." Techno might be newer to the scene than the traditional instruments, but it is no less a part of the band's DNA.

This new collection, CAPTURE, seeks to sum up the glorious history of the Afro Celt Sound System in 2 hours. While I would have liked them to have found room for gems like "North" and "Whirly 3," there's no denying that what's here is a fantastic summary of the band's achievements to date. You get all the hits, several of the 8+ minute instrumental epics (including the jaw-dropping "Mojave"), and a few unreleased gems thrown in for good measure (the previously unreleased version of "Dark Moon" from Gangs of New York, a new cue from the Hotel Rwanda soundtrack, and several new edits of album tracks). Plus, in an age when record companies are ditching physical releases in favor of downloads, it must be said that the packaging for CAPTURE is sublime, with beautiful artwork and a nice glossy booklet with photos and commentary. Don't bother with an mp3 version of this one... seek out the real thing! Really, I can't recommend this collection highly enough. The only thing that would be better for your music collection than buying this set would be to spring for all of the original ACSS CDs and call it good.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 11, 2011 2:21 AM GMT

Dorothee Munyaneza (CD+DVDA) [DVD AUDIO]
Dorothee Munyaneza (CD+DVDA) [DVD AUDIO]
Price: 9.91

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent African jazz, rock and blues in 5.1, 14 Jun 2010
This is the debut album from Paris-based Rwandan singer Dorothee Munyaneza, who first came to prominence on the "Hotel Rwanda" movie soundtrack and on Afro Celt Sound System's 2005 album "Anatomic." Co-written and produced by ACSS's Martin Russell, it is the debut release on Russell's new surround-sound label, Luminary Records.

The first thing you notice when you open the package is that the DVD-A is Disc 1, while the CD is Disc 2. In other words, the surround mixes are the main attraction here--listen to them in 5.1 if at all possible! The DVD-A offers all 14 album tracks in either DTS Digital Surround, Dolby Digital 5.1, or stereo configurations, plus a bonus track ("Batanu"), artwork, and even mp3 files for quick transfer to your iPod. And if all of those incentives aren't enough, there's still the CD version on Disc 2 for those who like to kick it old skool.

As for the music itself, it is beautiful. The lyrics are not in English, but the songs draw you in even if you don't understand the words. The liner notes reveal a wide palette of emotions... there are songs about genocide and corruption but also songs focused on marriage and childbearing. Through it all, Dorothee's voice is a powerful, maternal presence. It is at times fragile and gentle and at others bold and assertive, often spanning both styles within the same song.

Is this "world beat" music? That label might apply. The sound is reminiscent of Geoffrey Oryema's albums on Realworld Records, and perhaps more recently, of Angelique Kidjo. "Njyenyine" is gentle and sad, with some beautiful saxophone accompaniment. "Godeliva" is more synth-y, upbeat and celebratory. The upbeat feeling continues on "Iteka," with handclaps and chants. "Agaciro" has big drums and rock guitar, while "Ingoma" features some tasty live bass and more saxophone.

Overall, this record is defined by its rock, jazz and blues influences. The songwriting is more concise than your typical Afro Celt Sound System 10-minute epic, and the sound is more organic and less programmed. Dorothee Munyaneza and Martin Russell have put together a great collection of songs and sounds. Hopefully this album will get the recognition it deserves, both for the music and for the awesome DVD-A mixes.

Empire and Love
Empire and Love
Price: 13.61

35 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Darker, earthier, and a worthy successor to the first album, 4 Jan 2010
This review is from: Empire and Love (Audio CD)
The Imagined Village's second album, Empire and Love, follows the band's stunning, self-titled 2007 debut with a sound that is more organic and acoustic, with lots of guitars, sitar, live drums and strings. The heavy electronica of the first album is absent here, although a few interesting keyboard sounds pop up. Gone, too, are the guest appearances by the likes of TransGlobal Underground, Billy Bragg, and the Gloworms (although British singer Jackie Oates does offer an awesome lead vocal on "Lark in the Morning"). Instead, the ten band members (Simon Emmerson, Eliza Carthy, Martin Carthy, Sheema Mukherjee, Simon Richmond, Chris Wood, Andy Gangadeen, Barney Morse-Brown, Ali Friend and Johnny Kalsi) handle the majority of the duties themselves, and the results are impressive. Empire and Love is probably close to what the Imagined Village sounds like in a live setting.

To my ears, the album has a darker and more melancholy feel. This is evident right from the lead track, "My Son John," an English ballad about a man who loses his legs in battle (this interpretation gives the story a tragic update with references to Iraq and Afghanistan). The standard "Scarborough Fair" is given two outings, a sitar-heavy first take and a beautiful string-laden finale, and both versions make Simon and Garfunkel's famous recording seem positively sunny by comparison. Perhaps the biggest shock on the record is a cover of Slade's 1973 hit "Cum on Feel the Noize," which was later covered by the likes of Oasis. The Imagined Village's version is fragile, world-weary and heartbreaking, sounding nothing like the ridiculous party anthem envisioned by Quiet Riot in the 80s. For reasons I can't explain, it sounds perfectly at home on this album. There are some upbeat moments, too, such as "Byker Hill," with a zippy string arrangement.

The Imagined Village's debut record was something of a concept album, set on making a statement. Empire and Love is more about having fun with the music (even though much of it is dark in tone) and letting the artist's talents shine through. Catch the band live if you can, but definitely pick up this CD. It's excellent!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 25, 2010 11:58 AM GMT

All Together Now The Very Best Of The Farm
All Together Now The Very Best Of The Farm
Price: 6.81

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Missed opportunity, 16 Sep 2009
This compilation (the THIRD to carry the name "All Together Now: The Very Best of the Farm" and the FIFTH Farm best-of overall) could have been great, but unfortunately it was handled poorly.

To start with, the tracklisting is wrong and misleading. "Rain" does not appear on Disc 2, as stated on the record label's web site.

More egregiously, the CD packaging states that you get "Love See No Colour (Single Version)" on Disc 1 and "Love See No Colour (Album Version)" on Disc 2. However, both CDs contain the Single Version... in other words, YOU'RE PAYING FOR THE SAME SONG TWICE!!!

Also, despite being highlighted several times in the liner notes, the Farm's third album, "Hullabaloo," is not represented on this collection. The only Farm collection to include tracks from Hullabaloo is 1998's "Best of the Farm" on Essential Records.

Most critics dismiss The Farm as bargain-bin fodder, but for three years or so in the early to mid 90s they made some great tunes. They had a unique sound (not just "Madchester") and most of their remixes are excellent.

The Farm only put out three records and it's silly that there are now FIVE "best of" compilations circulating. This latest offering could have been an opportunity to let the band rest in peace. There are some appealing tracks here, including a previously unreleased tune "Tumbling Down" and unreleased mixes of "Good Morning Sinners" and "Mind." As it stands, though, this budget release was obviously thrown together haphazardly and therefore a true career-spanning overview of the Farm's music remains to be found.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 25, 2009 11:10 AM GMT

The Imagined Village
The Imagined Village
Offered by RevivalMedia
Price: 15.34

113 of 114 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bridging the gap..., 21 Oct 2007
This review is from: The Imagined Village (Audio CD)
Don't let the huge number of artists involved with this record fool you... it isn't a dodgy "compilation" album. It's a stellar folk project that features a diverstiy of talent combined to make a beautiful, unified whole. From John Copper's heartfelt narration that kicks off the proceedings, to Benjamin Zephaniah's radical contemporization of the Scottish ballad "Tam Lyn" (over a bed of dubby and clubby beats courtesy of TransGlobal Underground and Simon Emmerson), the collection is top-notch througout.

For me the whole concept really gels with the final four tracks, beginning with Simon Emmerson's original composition "Pilsden Pen," a rolicking instrumental featuring acoustic guitar and bouzouki against accordion and a string ensemble (this song seems particularly suited to a live concert setting, and I hope it turns up in the setlist for next month's Imagined Village Tour.) This is followed by a cool re-working of "Hard Times of Old England," to which Billy Bragg has added new lyrics, and the production team has added an electronic bed of synths and programmed drums. Eliza Carthy provides some finessed fiddling, and the chorus sounds exactly like something you'd hear being sung by the patrons in a rural pub. The album concludes with the one-two punch of the "Worms and Moths" English Ceilidh Medley, comprised of Kit Whites I and II by the Gloworms and Sloe on the Uptake by TigerMoth. You will be AMAZED at the way these two bands combine several tunes into one extended jam, to close the album on a jubilant and triumphant note. There is hand-clapping, foot-stomping, yelping, fiddling, shouting, electric bass, drum programming, and just about everything but the kitchen sink strung across these two tracks. But it doesn't sound like a dodgy "world fusion" experiment. Rather, it contains all of the grit and authenticity of the original songs.

Indeed, the same could be said for the entire Imagined Village album. You need to hear it for yourself, and if possible, listen to it several times all the way through from start to finish. It will grow on you with each listen. The Imagined Village might well be the album that finally bridges the gap between the folk music purists and the advocates of 21st-century innovation. It brings both worlds together with greater harmony and grace than any other album of its kind.

Offered by Real World
Price: 3.99

22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 10 Years On and Still Breaking Boundaries, 6 Oct 2005
This review is from: Anatomic (Audio CD)
Ok, before reviewing this CD, let me just say that as of this writing (6th October 2005) the sound clips on this site are still WRONG. (Wake up amazon!) If you're considering buying this CD and want to hear what the Afro Celt Sound System sounds like, you might want to check out some other online music retailers. At the very least, look up one of the band's five other albums on this site and listen to those sound clips, which will give you an idea of what the band is like.
Now that the ranting is over, let's talk about the music. ACSS released their first album ten years ago to wild critical and commercial acclaim. That recording, VOLUME 1: SOUND MAGIC, was a world fusion masterpiece. Their subsequent releases have all built on that foundation, from the club-friendly beats of VOLUME 2: RELEASE and the global power of VOLUME 3: FURTHER IN TIME (which featured guests such as Peter Gabriel, Robert Plant, and Altan) to the more organic and ethereal sounds of 2003's SEED and the dramatic reinterpretations of last year's POD (a remix project that was more creative and fulfilling than anything else in its class).
ANATOMIC is proof positive that the Afro Celt Sound System has honed its craft to perfection. The opening track, "When I Still Needed You" is a heart-wrenching epic that marries accordian, bouzouki, bodhran and other percussion, and superb programming with the impassioned vocals of Dorothee Munyaneza, a survivor of the Rwandan genocide who first collaborated with the band on the HOTEL RWANDA soundtrack. Next up is "My Secret Bliss," a funky duet between Iarla O'Lionaird and guest vocalist Sevara Nazarkhan. The 10-plus minute "Mojave" is the musical and emotional high point of the album, with atmospheric keys, spiritual Gaelic vocals courtesy of Iarla, and a vast array of instrumentation including uilleann pipes by Emer Mayock, dhol drums courtesy of Johnny Kalsi, some very soukous/East African-inspired guitar by Simon Emmerson, and beautiful Irish whistle and bodhran by James McNally, who plays just about every instrument imaginable, and plays it well.
Each song that follows is a joy, from the gentle African strains of "Sene" (featuring vocals and kora by N'Faly Kouyate, with a sound reminiscent of Youssou N'Dour) to the beautiful electronic ballad "Beautiful Rain" with English vox by Iarla. The title track is a classic Afro Celts instrumental with swirling keyboards, uilleann pipes, fiddles, and percussion that will light up the dance floor, while "Mother" features another appearance from Dorothee Munyaneza, trading vocals in a touching duet with Iarla. "Dhol Dogs" assaults the senses with aggressive programming and a symphonic, "Europe meets Asia" vibe, and then "Drake" ends the hour-long journey on a mellow note with a predominantly acoustic sound that eventually morphs into electronic bliss.
Producer/engineer Martin Russell ties the whole package together with sensitivity and grace, proving once again that the Afro Celt Sound System is the only act around to have discovered the perfect musical balance between man and machine. ANATOMIC is a feast for the ears and the perfect capstone to ten years of musical milestones from this groundbreaking band.

Volume 3: Further In Time
Volume 3: Further In Time
Offered by Real World
Price: 3.99

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Third time's a charm!, 18 Jun 2001
Better than 1999's Volume 2 and more accessible than the Afro Celts' classic debut, Further in Time is a world fusion marvel. From "North 1 &2," the 10-minute epic that opens the record, to "Onwards," the quiet but intense closing track, the Afro Celts' latest offering reveals new layers and dimensions with each spin. "When You're Falling" features some great vocal interplay between Peter Gabriel and Iarla O'Lionaird, and "Colossus" marries aggressive programming with guitar, bouzouki, and fiddle. One of the most impressive tracks is "Lagan," featuring a primal, almost-oppressive beat overlaid with cathedral-like sounds and Iarla's Celtic wail. "Shadowman" turns the African element up a notch with Demba Barry's energetic raps. The album falters only slightly with "Life Begin Again" - an excellent song in its own right, but marred slightly by the presence of Robert Plant (this is the Afro Celt Sound System, after all, not the Aging Dinosaur Rocker Sound System). "Go On Through" is an Irish-tinged love song with lyrics in both Gaelic and English, and things really pick up again with the beautiful "Persistence of Memory." The final two tracks, "Silken Whip" and "Onwards," are classic Afro Celts, with the latter featuring another great round of African vocals courtesy of N'Faly Kouyate. You can't go wrong with this album... it's incredible.

Spirit of the Century
Spirit of the Century
Offered by westworld-
Price: 11.99

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Gospel, 17 April 2001
This review is from: Spirit of the Century (Audio CD)
"Spirit of the Century" is a Gospel music treasure, full of some of the most soulful singing you're ever likely to hear. Recorded in L.A. and released on Peter Gabriel's Realworld label, the album combines a number of traditional Gospel songs with a few newer tunes written by the likes of Ben Harper, Tom Waits, and the Rolling Stones. But don't worry - the Blind Boys aren't singing "Start Me Up" here. In the hands of these vocalists, even the contributions from secular artists are given a new spiritual dynamic that makes each song sound like it was pulled directly from an old southern hymnal. The bluesy, acoustic-bass driven backing music is decidedly rough around the edges. It is this up-front, almost reckless spiritual abandon that puts "Spirit of the Century" miles ahead of most of the calculated, market-savvy Christian music coming out of Nashville. Standout cuts include "No More," which contains echoes of the traditional "Amazing Grace," and "Amazing Grace" itself, which is set to the tune of "House of the Rising Sun." Uplifting message; awesome music!

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