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With album sales now topping one and a half million and two Grammy nominations to date, Celebrated their 20th Anniversary in 2016 with an acclaimed album, 'The Source', which fRoots Magazine described as 'a colossus of an album'. Afro Celt Sound System return with their 8th studio album 'Flight'.
The album explores themes of migration - both human and avian with a dazzling cast list of stellar musicians from around the Globe including Emmanuela Yogolelo music director of the Amani choir from the Democratic Republic of Congo who has a refugee background as well as working extensively within the wider refugee community of Manchester and Stone Flowers the band supported by Music Action International, the charity who help transform lives affected by war, torture & armed conflict through music and song.
Formed by Grammy-nominated musician and record producer Simon Emmerson, Afro Celt Sound System are a European and African based collective who have forged a reputation for their energetic, exhilarating shows. Winners of the Songlines 2017 Best Group award,they innovatively combine folk traditions of different cultures to breath-taking effect.
Simon Emmerson is joined by long-term members' vocalist, kora and balafon player N'faly Kouyaté and Dhol drummer Johnny Kalsi but both album and tour will feature contributions from more than 17 musicians and at selected gigs the Amani choir. This host of outstanding musicians include Armagh-born vocalist and flautist Ríoghnach Connolly; off-grid Highland Crofter, Griogair (vocals and highland pipes); the Amani choir musical director and singer Emmanuela Yogoelo; bodhrán player and percussionist Robbie Harris and Malian master drummer and percussionist Kalifa Knoé. The pipe, fiddle and flute tunes are all original and performed and written by Scottish Fiddler Ewen Henderson, Co. Mayo Piper Emer Mayock and flautist Ríoghnach Connolly. As well as the Amani choir, the band are also joined by very special guests, Stone Flowers, The Kick Horns and the Johannesburg based African Gospel Singers.
Flight features Afro Celt Sound System's trademark driving afro house and drum and bass beats, bold west African brass and exuberant electronic rhythms and bass lines provided by Mass, Simon 'Palmy' Richmond, Richard Evans and Simon Emmerson. Central to the album is a 4-part medley recorded for the 1st time in the band's career as a live performance in London's Strongroom studios the location were the ACSS was conceived back in the early 90's. This is the closet the band have got to capturing within a recording studio the dynamic of the gigging band; gone are the loops and samples that used to provide the backdrop to the band's sound replaced now by the heartfelt performances that make the bands tour and festival dates so exhilarating.
13 self-penned tracks on 'Flight' also introduce moving devotional songs. The band have reworked 'Sanctus' originally recorded by a Congolese children's choir in the 1958 and featured in Lyndsey Anderson's seminal film If. This was the Amani's Chore debut studio session and is captured in the bands video tracing their journey from their homes in Manchester and Liverpool to London's Strongroom Studios and ending at the Afro Celt recording and writing retreat in West Dorset were the collective meet to complete the album. The Migration medley draws parallels between bird and human migration ending with Ríoghnach's embracing lament Night Crossings part 1 that is re-interpreted by Stone Flowers as the closing track on the album.
This is by far their most political and engaged album to date drawing on Ríoghnach and Emmanuela's work within the refugee community of Manchester and the north west of England. The album starts with Griogair's epic lament for a fallen highland chief and ends with Stone Flowers request for dignity, tolerance and understanding in these troubled times.
The album was recorded in over 13 studios in Africa and Europe and written, arranged, engineered and mixed by Afro Celt Sound System collective. The executive producer is Mark Constantine and the album was released on his and Simon's label, ECC Records.
Label artwork has been produced by Jamie Reid, legendary punk artist, cultural activist and ACSS founding member.
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