Having seen the Afro Celts live in London in 2003, buying their back catalogue was high on my agenda. This, the second album, is my favourite. Imagine a powerful combination of techno synths and Asian and African drums (on stage, they have anything up to four percussionists at any one time) to lay the foundations, with soft, floating Irish pipes, whistles and mellifluous vocals layered on top to chill the soul. At once muscular dance music with a gentle brogue - a pint of Guinness with a stiff chaser of African brew!
This collections starts with the gorgeous Release, aided by Sinead O'Connor, but the really rousing stuff comes towards the end. I just adore the first half of Riding the Waves - spooky, haunting guitar and synth riff, persistant beats from talking drum and a bounty of other percussive instruments - sounding like the theme to a particularly atmospheric gangster thriller - before the vocals soften the effect.
If you get the rare chance, see this band live, but in the meantime this is a fine way to introduce yourself to their material.
on 7 March 2003
I heard a track by ACSS by complete chance while surfing an online radio station, and was captivated by its rich mix of celtic sounds and african rhythms - so much so that I sought out this album. There is no doubt that it has surpassed my wildest expectations - the subtle blend of complex drum beats, traditional instruments, haunting vocals, raw african voices and the sheer energy of the performance lifts you to new heights of pleasure.
Uplifting yet mellow, raw yet musically accomplished - an eclectic fusion which can't fail to get your foot tapping and your body moving!
on 7 January 2001
This album combines styles from around the world with deep electronic basslines and hard-hitting drum machines. This is what "World Music" should be; taking ideas and sounds from around the world without trying to fit it into Western composition - they don't simply take African drums, sample them and try and fit them to a 4/4 drum machine. Instead, they cleverly take each of the styles and carefully combine them to create a complex structure.
The clever programming has payed off, though - Volume 2 is an amazing peice of work. It's far more Drum & Bass than the first one, but that's more my style. Excellent - buy it!
on 9 November 1999
Interesting, exciting, groovy. Takes a few listens to get into, but always gives you something new.
A little bit Irish, a little bit African, lots of drums, haunting vocals, mandolins and more. Get it you won't be disappointed. (Unless you don't like any of the above)
Also superb PC application for blending your own sounds - worth the money just on its own!!
on 17 November 1999
Afro-Celt is a unique project that might well have been a failure. Is there any intrinsic link between these two musical traditions? Afro-blues and afro-jazz link-ups often work because of shared cultural roots, not really the case with celtic and african music. What is acheived on Release should be judged on it's own merits and listened to with fresh ears without bothering too much about where it all comes from - it is not music for purists. What comes over is the spirit, enjoyment and commitment of the participants. The music is uplifting, exhilarating and on occasion, sublime.
on 30 November 1999
As the globe gets smaller and smaller, music reflects some of the cultural, musical and linguistic fusion which will inevitably follow. Afro Celt Sound System choses to fuse two distanced musical styles and marries them very successfully into a melting pot of sounds. The music is relaxing, whilst at the same time uplifting and manages to vary enough to keep you on your aural toes.