Afro Celt Sound System was a world music band based in the UK. As implied by the name, they played a mix of
Irish Celtic, West African, and electronic dance music
In 1991, producer Simon Emmerson was collaborating with Afro-pop star Baaba Maal when he heard an African melody, which struck him due to its similarity to an Irish air. Emmerson’s interest in the similarities between the two traditions was piqued further when he heard a theory that the nomadic Celts had lived in Africa prior to migrating to Europe.
In 1995, Emmerson brought traditional Irish musicians and members of Baaba Maal’s backing band to jam together at Peter Gabriel’s Real World studios for a week. The experiment proved a rousing success, and the collective’s first album, Sound Magic
, was released the following year. A proper band was formed from these session musicians. Live shows and more albums followed, and Afro Celt Sound System grew to become the second best-selling artist on Real World Records (second only to Peter Gabriel
The band went on hiatus in 2007, then reunited in 2010 to play a series of live shows and promote their Greatest Hits Album
- Simon Emmerson: guitars, cittern, programming, keyboards, mandolin, bouzouki, stapletone
- James McNally: whistles, keyboards, bodhran, accordion, piano, harmonium, programming
- N’faly Kouyate: kora, vocals, balafon, standing n’goma drum
- Jimmy Mahon: uilleann pipes, flute
- Johnny Kalsi: dhol, tablas, okeido drum, Kalsi kit, other percussion
- Ian Markin: electronic and acoustic drums
- Moussa Sissokho: djembe, talking drum
- Barbara Bangoura: djembe, talking drum
- Martin Russell: keyboards, programming
- Jo Bruce: keyboards
- Iara O Lionárd: vocals
- Myrdhin: Celtic harp
- Simon “Mass” Massey: programming, keyboards
- Emer Mayock: uilleann pipes, flute
- Ronan Brown: uilleann pipes, flute, harmonium, mandolin
- Ayub Ogada: vocals, nyatiti
- Kauwding Cissokho: kora
- Masamba Diop: talking drums
- Volume 1: Sound Magic (1996)
- “Sure-as-Not” single
- “Whirl-y-Reel” single
- Volume 1: Sound Magic promotional EP
- Volume 2: Release (1999)
- Volume 3: Further in Time (2001)
- “When You’re Falling” single
- “Life Begin Again” promotional single
- Seed (2003)
- “Rise Above It” promotional single
- Pod (2004) A remix album.
- Volume 5: Anatomic (2005)
- Anatomic Radio Edit Sampler promotional EP
- Capture: 1995 – 2010 (2010) A Greatest Hits Album.
They also composed original music for the 1999 PC game Magic And Mayhem
and the 2004 film Hotel Rwanda
Provides examples of:
- Bolero Effect: Used numerous times. “Release” (and “Release It”, and the Rollo & Sister Bliss Remix), “Riding the Waves”, “Whirly 3 [Emmerson, McNally, and Mass Remix]”, “Rise Above It”.
- Book Ends: Release opens with the title track, then ends with “Release It”, an instrumental mix of the same song.
- Dead Person Conversation: “Release”, in which the deceased tells the listener to be happy for him, rather than mourning or arguing.
- Epic Rocking: Numerous extended songs. The longest are the 10-minute songs “Eistigh Liomsa Sealad / Listen to Me / Saor Reprise”, “Mojave”, and “Rise Above It”. (And if you include the latter’s ambient intro “Rise”, then its length gets bumped up to 13 minutes.)
- Fading into the Next Song: Several examples from Pod. In fact, everything from track 4, “Further in Time”, to track 8, “Whirly 3”, is a continuous mix.
- Reality Subtext: The aforementioned “Release”. Keyboardist Jo Bruce died of an asthma attack just as the band was starting on their second album. The shock of his passing put the album on hold, and may have caused the remaining members to disband if Sinead O’Connor hadn’t intervened. She penned and sang some lyrics about accepting death—about being happy that their friend has been freed from the shackles of mortal existence—which allowed the band to come to terms with Jo’s death, and inspired them to press on.
- Rearrange the Song: Numerous remixes and radio edits appear on their singles. Pod collects the band’s favorites, and also features new remixes recorded specifically for that album. Both Release and Seed end with an instrumental mix of a vocal song from the album.
- Siamese Twin Songs: “Dark Moon, High Tide” and “Whirl-y-Reel 2” from Sound Magic. “Urban Aire” and “Big Cat” from Release. “Rise” and “Rise Above It” from Seed.