I think it was in the late 90s when Time (was it Newsweek) published a brief article about The Afro Celt Sound System(now commonly referred to as Afro Celts). I was also watching Jools Holland when lead vocalist Iarla O’Lionaird made an appearance. I was shocked by the beauty of his voice. Of course this was the pre-internet years and I heavily depend on Time and Newsweek to see what’s new in music(World, Celtic, Alternative Rock, Folk and Electro).
Information was not widely available so it is not possible to hear the ‘coolest’ sounds unless you know someone who travels to Europe occasionally and writes music Fanzines about the scene. But it was such a decade of good music. Now it’s free for all, meaning even horrible singers can get huge following if they put something in youtube.
It was an era of mixtapes. I traded mixtapes with friends and they record what they have in their tape and CD collection for me. It think it was awesome in a sentimental way. I was living with a limited school budget so if I really crave for that amazing album, I need to sacrifice things like getting new pair of shoes or pants. But who cares about shoes or pants when you have the Afro Celt Sound System? I think they really ‘kick ass’ in a sense that they combine African, electronic and alternative rock with their Celtic sound to create something unique.
They’ve always been associated with diverse artists as Sinead O’Connor, Peter Gabriel and Robert Plant. There are eight members composed of Simon Emmerson N’Faly Kouyate Moussa Sissokho James McNally Johnny Kalsi Iarla Ó Lionáird Emer Mayock and Martin Russell.
Other artists who have performed with them were: Peter Gabriel, Robert Plant, Pete Lockett, Sinéad O’Connor, Pina Kollar, Dorothee Munyaneza, Sevara Nazarkhan, Simon Massey, Jesse Cook, Martin Hayes, Eileen Ivers, Mundy, Demba Barry, Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh and Ciarán Tourish of Altan, Ronan Browne, Michael McGoldrick, Myrdhin, Shooglenifty, Mairead Nesbitt, Davy Spillane, Jonas Bruce, Heather Nova, Julie Murphy and Ayub Ogada.
Their last release was a 2-CD album Capture in 2010 which compiles their songs from 1995 to 2010. More like a Best Of album. I think whatever they record and release will always be amazing.
I am listening to them as I start my morning outside watching nature and a new day unfolding in the midst of uncertainty. And one thing remains certain after all: Music is there to be enjoyed until one’s last breath.