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.
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!