Take Flight with Afro Celt Sound System

Brand new album, Flight – with major UK tour – November 2018

Afro Celt Sound System

With album sales now topping one and a half million and two Grammy nominations to date, Afro Celt Sound System celebrated their 20th Anniversary in 2016 with an acclaimed album, The Source.

ECC Records are now delighted to announce the release of Flight, the eighth studio album by this ground-breaking collective. Flight, released on 23rd November, will be supported by a major ten day UK wide tour (November 2018, including London’s Barbican Centre on 21st) and will explore themes of migration – both human and avian – with a dazzling cast of stellar musicians from around the globe.

Afro Celt Sound System have invited three other large collectives to join them on this album and by doing so, shine a spotlight on migration, with a particular focus on refugees. These include the Amani Choir from the Democratic Republic of Congo with music director Emmanuela Yogolelo,  who has a refugee background. The album also features Stone Flowers, the band supported by Music Action International, a charity who helps transform lives affected by war, torture & armed conflict through music and song, alongside the Johannesburg based African Gospel Singers.

The album also references the environment and is in part inspired by ECC Records owner’s Simon Emmerson and Mark Constantine’s shared passion for bird-watching. Flight is perhaps Afro Celt Sound System’s most overtly political album and draws from Armagh-born vocalist and flautist Ríoghnach Connolly and Emmanuela’s work within the refugee community of Manchester and across the north west of England.

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, uplifting shows.  Winners of the Songlines 2017 Best Group award, they combine folk traditions of different cultures in a unique and innovative way.

Thirteen self-penned tracks on Flight introduce moving devotional songs alongside Afro Celt Sound System’s trademark driving afro house, with drum and bass beats, bold west African brass and exuberant electronic rhythms and bass lines. Central to the album is a 4-part ‘migration’ medley’ drawing parallels between bird and human migration and ending with Ríoghnach’s embracing lament.  Recorded for the 1st time in the band’s career as a live studio performance, it’s the closest they’ve got to capturing the dynamic of the gigging band in a studio; gone are the loops and samples that used to provide the backdrop to the band’s sound, now replaced by the passionate performances which make the bands live shows so exhilarating and distinctive.

Simon Emmerson is joined by long-term members’ vocalist, kora and balafon player N’faly Kouyaté and Dhol Foundation drummer Johnny Kalsi but both album and tour will feature contributions from more than seventeen musicians and at selected gigs will also include the Amani Choir. This host of outstanding musicians include Ríoghnach Connolly; off-grid Highland Crofter, Griogair (vocals and highland pipes); Amani Choir MD Emmanuela Yogoelo; bodhrán player and percussionist Robbie Harris and Malian master drummer and percussionist Kalifa Knoé. Bass is provided by Mass, Simon ‘Palmy’ Richmond, Richard Evans and Simon Emmerson. The pipe, fiddle and flute tunes are all original and performed and written by Scottish Fiddler, Ewen Henderson, County Mayo Piper, Emer Mayock and flautist, Ríoghnach Connolly.  As well as the Amani choir, the band are also joined on Flight by very special guests, Stone Flowers, The Kick Horns and the African Gospel Singers

Flight was recorded in more than thirteen studios in Africa and Europe and is written, arranged, engineered and mixed by Afro Celt Sound System collective. The executive producer is Mark Constantine and the album is released on his and Emmerson’s label, ECC Records. Label artwork has been produced by Jamie Reid, legendary punk artist, cultural activist and ACSS founding member.

Artists’ website: http://www.afroceltsoundsystem.org.uk/

Afro Celt Sound System live:

Tour Dates

Wed 14 November      TORQUAY Princess Theatre, Torbay Road, Torquay TQ2 5EZ
Box Office 0844 871 7615 / Tickets £26.00 / https://bit.ly/2MYk1s3

Thu 15 November        FROME Cheese & Grain, Market Yard, Justice Ln, Frome BA11 1BE
Box Office 01373 455420 / Tickets £27.50 / cheeseandgrain.com

Fri 16 November          POOLE Lighthouse
Poole’s Centre For The Arts, 21 Kingland Rd, Poole BH15 1UG
Box Office 01202 280000 / Tickets £25.00 / lighthousepoole.co.uk

Sat 17 November         NEWCASTLE Tyne Theatre, 117 Westgate Rd, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 4AG
Box Office 0844 2491 000 / Tickets £25.50 / tynetheatreandoperahouse.uk

Sun 18 November        LEEDS Town Hall, The Headrow, Leeds LS1 3AD
Box Office 0113 376 0318 / Tickets £26.50 / leedstownhall.co.uk

Tue 20 November        BRIGHTON The Dome, Church St, Brighton BN1 1UE
Box Office 01273 709709 / Tickets £27.00 /  brightondome.org

Wed 21 November      LONDON Barbican, Silk St, London EC2Y 8DS
Box Office 020 7638 8891 / Tickets £27.50 – 29.50 / barbican.org.uk

Thu 22 November        CAMBRIDGE Corn Exchange, 2 Wheeler St, Cambridge CB2 3QB
Box Office 01223 357851 /Tickets £25.00 / cambridgelivetrust.co.uk/cornex

Fri 23 November          MANCHESTER RNCM (Concert Hall), 124 Oxford Rd, Manchester M13 9RD
Box Office 0161 907 5555 / Tickets £25.00 / rncm.ac.uk

Sat 24 November         WARWICK Arts Centre, University of Warwick, Coventry CV4 7AL
Box Office 024 7652 4524 / Tickets £27.00 / warwickartscentre.co.uk

 

AFRO CELT SOUND SYSTEM – The Source (ECC Records)

The SourceThe Source is the first new album from Afro Celt Sound System for ten years as they celebrate their twentieth anniversary and I wasn’t sure what to expect. Not, perhaps, a record that sounds as indefinably spiritual as this.

There are a huge number of musicians of this album in addition to the six core members of the band led by Simon Emmerson and the first voices we hear are those of Les Griottes, the female African group who appear on eight of the thirteen tracks. The opening track, ‘Calling In the Horses’ is a gentle sweeping piece that evokes the open land of West Africa with an accompaniment and is admirably restrained and features the Uilleann pipes and whistles of Davy Spillane and leads into ‘Beware Soul Brother’ which builds with the addition of Seaná Davey’s harp and the keyboards and bass of Richard Evans.

I like the way these two tracks morph into ‘The Magnificent Seven’ changing the mood into a decidedly Irish feel. ‘The Cascade’ finally blends the afro and the celt elements of the band completely with the modern electronica and beats for which they are probably best known. Four members of Shooglenifty appear on the track, as do The Dhol Foundation, and Griogair Labhruidh takes the lead vocal part while Les Griottes provide the African vibe. Kick Horns also join the company for this track and the next, ‘A Higher Love’, which includes the tune ‘Monkswell Road’ borrowed from Shooglenifty.

By now the styles and influences are thoroughly mixed. ‘Where Two Rivers Meet’ and ‘Mansani Cissé’ gives us a break from the excitement and N’Faly Kouyaté’s kora features here while Griogair’s pipes take the high road of the lead melody on the former. Pál Ó Siadhail reads an excerpt from his forthcoming book, Wonder And The Medicine Wheels on the Gaelic ‘Child Of Wonder’ which sounds like a waulking song and Johnny Kalsi lends his name to the final track, ‘Kalsi Breakbeat’.

The Source is a superb album and the implication of going back to the roots of the music is totally justified. This is Afro Celt Sound System, however, and there are always surprises.

Dai Jeffries

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Artists’ website: www.afroceltsoundsystem.org.uk

‘The Magnificent Seven’ – live at Celtic Connections: