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:

The 2017 Folking Awards

Welcome to the 2017 Folking Awards. Last year’s inaugural poll was such a success that we had to do it again. The nominations, in eight categories, come from our ever-expanding team of writers and were wrangled into shape with sweat, tears and not a little blood by the Folkmeister and the Editor.

There are five nominees in each category, all of whom have been featured in the pages of folking.com in 2016.

As with the format last year, all are winners in our eyes. However, its not just down to what we think, so again, there will be a public vote to decide the overall winner of each category.

Soloist Of The Year

Luke Jackson
Ralph McTell
Kelly Oliver
Steve Pledger
Alasdair Roberts


Best Duo

Cathryn Craig & Brian Willoughby
Ange Hardy & Lukas Drinkwater
O’Hooley & Tidow
Ninebarrow
Show Of Hands


Best Band

Afro Celt Sound System
Fairport Convention
Harp And A Monkey
Nancy Kerr and The Sweet Visitor Band
Merry Hell


Best Live Act

The James Brothers
Robb Johnson and the My Best Regards Band
Sam Kelly & The Lost Boys
Mad Dog Mcrea
Megson


Best Album

Tall Tales & Rumours – Luke Jackson
Ballads Of The Broken Few – Seth Lakeman/Wildwood Kin
Preternatural – Moulettes
Somewhere Between – Steve Pledger
Dodgy Bastards – Steeleye Span


Best Musician

Ciaran Algar
Phil Beer
Rachel Newton
Gill Sandell
Kathryn Tickell


Rising Star Act

The Brewer’s Daughter
Hattie Briggs
Said The Maiden
Sunjay
Emily Mae Winters


Best International Act

Applewood Road
The Bills
David Francey
Michael McDermott
Eve Selis


Public Vote

The public vote closed Midday Saturday 22 April 2017 and the winners have now been announced HERE


If you would like to consider ordering a copy of an album for any of our award winners (in CD or Vinyl), download an album or track or just listen to snippets of selected songs (track previews are usually on the download page) then type what you are looking for in the search bar above.

Buying through Amazon on folking.com helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us

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

If you would like to order a copy of an album (CD or Vinyl format), download a copy or just listen to snippets of selected tracks then click below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website (use the left and right arrows below to scroll along or back to see the full selection).

Buying through Amazon on folking.com helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us.

Artists’ website: www.afroceltsoundsystem.org.uk

‘The Magnificent Seven’ – live at Celtic Connections:

Afro Celt Sound System announce new album

Afro Celt Sound System
Photograph by Tom Oldham

With sales now topping one and a half million albums and two Grammy nominations to date, Afro Celt Sound System celebrate their 20th anniversary with a stunning new album, The Source.

This European and African based collective have been a ground-breaking force in music ever since they started, along the way finding kindred spirits across international talent and forging a reputation for exhilarating shows. Afro Celt Sound System have an accomplished catalogue of albums, dating back to their 1996 debut, Volume 1: Sound Magic and continue their adventures on ECC Records, with the band’s first studio recording for a decade: The Source.

As its title suggests, all 13 tracks on The Source summon the original Afro Celt energy, while simultaneously yielding fresh and creative inspiration. Grammy-nominated multi-instrumental founder and producer Simon Emmerson recalls the creative spark that occurred from his early-’90s work with celebrated singer and guitarist Baaba Maal in Senegal, and a meeting of minds with Dublin-born musician Davy Spillane. It led to a jam session of African and Irish musicians laced with electronic beats at Peter Gabriel’s Real World’s studios in Wiltshire (with the surreal backdrop of the likes of Johnny Depp, Kate Moss and Iggy Pop milling around), from which Afro Celt Sound System’s debut album took flight.

The Source, is perhaps the most expansive and exuberant Afro Celt Sound System work to date. Its track-listing brings together core members Simon Emmerson, Guinean vocalist, kora and balafon virtuoso N’Faly Kouyate and charismatic dhol master Johnny Kalsi, along with long-standing collaborators such as Davy Spillane and Emer Mayock on uillean pipes and whistles, Moussa Sissoko on djembe and talking drum, and members of Scottish folk fusion Shooglenifty (who contributed to the very first Afro Celt album).

There are also welcome newcomers to the family, including the gritty, witty rhymes of Gaelic rapper, musician and language activist Griogair (an exponent of “ghetto-croft”, with a nod to his off-grid base in the Scottish Highlands), and the hauntingly soulful delivery of Armagh-born vocalist and flautist Rioghnach Connolly (Realworld), who leads Beware Soul Brother, inspired by a homage to legendary Nigerian poet Chinua Achebe, with a powerful song about what happens when something you love is stolen.

The Source, is very much a collaborative effort, embracing devotional harmonies (notably the exquisite sound of Guinean female quintet Les Griottes, who contribute to songs including opener ‘Calling In The Horses’), with protest songs, rockabilly guitars (‘Desert Billy’) and powerful electronic rhythms.

The Source was recorded at various locations across Europe, including Davy Spillane’s own studio by the Cliffs of Moher, an experience which the band liken to a Game Of Thrones quest (“Go and seek out the wise man on the remote cliffs”). The adept mixing skills of David Bottrill and Mass are credited for their “alchemical art” in bringing the album’s varied elements together.

One of the most celebratory numbers is ‘The Magnificent Seven’, a stirring reunion with the mighty Dhol Foundation, with the vital percussion spurred along by a vocal chant which translates as “courage” in Kouyate’s native tongue of Mandinka. The Source also rounds things off in spirit-soaring style, with Kalsi Breakbeat.

The Source features artwork by Jamie Reid, highly regarded artist, best known for his designs for the Sex Pistols including the Anarchy In The U.K poster – a ripped and safety-pinned Union Flag and the God Save the Queen single.

The new album’s characteristic energy will certainly translate to Afro Celt Sound System’s latest live sets, which kicked off 2016 in style with a sell-out show at Glasgow’s Celtic Connections festival.

If you would like to order a copy of an album (CD or Vinyl format), download a copy or just listen to snippets of selected tracks then click below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website (use the left and right arrows below to scroll along or back to see the full selection).

Buying through Amazon on folking.com helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us.

Artists’ website: www.afroceltsoundsystem.org.uk

‘The Magnificent Seven’ – live at Celtic Connections:

IARLA O’ LIONAIRD – Foxlight (Real World Records)

Ignorant peasant that I am, I hold my hands up and declare that I have never understood the Gaelic language or, more than likely never will do. Still, that doesn’t stop me from enjoying it as an aural texture and in fact find it quite soothing in many of my more relaxed ‘mood’ moments. If you’re looking for a serious bit of ‘chill-out’ then this album will more than likely appeal to you as it did me. Many of the ‘folk’ world will know Iarla O’Lionaird having been the vocalist in the Afro Celt Sound System but here, accompanied by Leafcutter John, Simon Edwards and Neil McColl amongst others this recording is a far more relaxed affair. Utilising the main framework of Leo Abrahams electric guitar, piano, effects and programming the project might appear at first to be an indulgence by O’lionaird but repeated listening will be justly rewarded by those who enjoy their ‘folk’ music with a bit of class.

PETE FYFE

If you would like to order a copy of an album (CD or Vinyl format), download a copy or just listen to snippets of selected tracks then click below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website (use the left and right arrows below to scroll along or back to see the full selection).

Buying through Amazon on folking.com helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us.

Artist links: www.iarla.com