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Afro Celt Sound System

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Biography

A world music fusion of African and Celtic traditions with electronic dance elements, Afro Celt Sound System rose to international acclaim in the late 1990s. Spearheaded by British musician and producer Simon Emmerson, the revolving collective of musicians enjoyed success with a series of albums on Real World Records including 1999's Volume 2: Release and 2005's Volume 5: Anatomic. Following a hiatus, the group returned to touring in 2010 but split into two factions over a dispute regarding rights to the band's name. Emmerson claimed primary ownership of ACSS in 2016, releasing a comeback album, The Source, followed two years later by Flight. In 1995, intrigued by the idea of marrying the musical traditions of these two disparate cultures with contemporary electronic elements, Emmerson brought together several members of Afro-pop star Baaba Maal's group with whom he had just worked and paired them with several prominent Irish folk musicians. A week's worth of inspired jam sessions at Peter Gabriel's Real World Studios yielded the unique and lively fusion that became the basis for the group's first album, Volume 1: Sound Magic. Released by Real World Records in September 1996, the album featured a host of musicians including kora player Kaouding Cissoko, flute and mandolin player Ronan Browne, Uilleann piper Davy Spillane, percussionists Massamba Diop and James McNally, vocalists Iarla Ó Lionáird and Ayub Ogoda, keyboardists Jo Bruce and Martin Russell, and many other players, with Emmerson producing the sessions and playing guitar. Over the next few years, ACSS became a staple of the world music scene, playing festivals, raves, and clubs. Just prior to beginning sessions for their follow-up, keyboardist Jo Bruce died of an asthma attack. Soldiering on, a core lineup of Emmerson, McNally, Lionáird, Russell, Celtic harpist Myrdhin, percussionist Moussa Sissokho, and vocalist/kora player N'Faly Kouyate recorded 1999's Volume 2: Release, which featured a prominent guest vocal spot from Sinéad O’Connor and earned the band a Grammy nomination. Released in 2001, Volume 3: Further in Time, saw a decided shift toward the group's African influence and featured both Robert Plant and Peter Gabriel, the latter of whom sang on the single "When You're Falling," which received significant airplay in the U.S. After briefly changing their name to Afro Celts for 2003's Seed, they reverted back to Afro Celt Sound System for the 2004 remix album, Pod, and subsequent studio album, 2005's Volume 5: Anatomic. When the tour cycle for Anatomic ended in 2007, ACSS went on a hiatus while its primary members worked on other projects including Emmerson and British-Indian percussionist Johnny Kalsi's similarly-minded multicultural project The Imagined Village. Reuniting in 2010 for a series of festival dates promoting their Real World-issued anthology, Capture: 1995-2010, they continued to perform together occasionally until 2015 when an internal dispute caused the band to split into two factions both jockeying for rights to work under the ACSS name. In 2016, it was decided that Emmerson, Kalsi, and Kouyate would continue using the Afro Celt Sound System name while Russell and McNally would move forward with a different project of their own. That same year, The Source was releasing, marking the first ACSS album under this new configuration and celebrating the band's 20th anniversary. They returned again in 2018 with Flight, which again revolved around the primary trio and included the usual wealth of guest players, this time out highland piper Griogair, fiddler Ewen Henderson, and the African Gospel Singers. ~ Timothy Monger
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Top Tracks

  1.   Track
    Popularity
  2.   Anatomic
  3.   Dhol Dogs
  4.   When I Still Needed You
  5.   Mojave
  6.   Drake
  7.   House of the Ancestors
  8.   Persistence of Memory
  9.   When You're Falling
  10.   Eistigh Liomsa Sealad/Listen to Me/Saor Reprise
  11.   Life Begins Again
  12.   Sure-As-Not/Sure-As-Knot
  13.   Thunderhead
  14.   Dark Moon, High Tide
  15.   Whirl-Y-Reel 2
  16.   The Silken Whip
  17.   Release
  18.   Amber
  19.   Whirl-Y-Reel 1
  20.   Ayub's Song/As You Were
  21.   The Magnificent Seven
  22.   Saor/Free/News From Nowhere
  23.   Honey Bee
  24.   Lovers of Light
  25.   Whirly 3
  26.   Inion
  27.   The Migration Medley: Migration (Mo Bhrón Ar An Bhfarraige / My Grief on the Ocean)
  28.   Sanctus
  29.   Kalsi Breakbeat
  30.   The Soul of a Sister
  31.   The Communicator
  32.   Desert Billy
  33.   Child of Wonder
  34.   Mansani Cissé/Tàladh
  35.   Cascade
  36.   Beware Soul Brother
  37.   Calling in the Horses
  38.   Beautiful Rain
  39.   My Secret Bliss
  40.   Mama Ararira (Medley): Mama Ararira, Pt. 1/Mama Ararira We!, Pt. 2
  41.   Riding the Skies
  42.   Full Moon Low Tide
  43.   Johnny at Sea
  44.   Green
  45.   All Remains
  46.   Deep Channel
  47.   Rise Above
  48.   Rise
  49.   The Other Side
  50.   Nevermore
  51.   Shadowman
  52.   North, Pt. 2
  53.   Onwards
  54.   Go on Through
  55.   Further in Time
  56.   Nu Cead Againn Dul Abhaile/We Cannot Go Home
  57.   Eireann
  58.   Urban Aire
  59.   Big Cat
  60.   Even in My Dreams
  61.   Hypnotica
  62.   Riding the Waves
  63.   I Think of...
  64.   Release It
  65.   Lagan
  66.   Life Begins Again by Robert Plant
  67.   Chosen
  68.   Manako / It's Too Late
  69.   The Road to Exile
  70.   The Migration Medley: Homecoming
  71.   Night Crossings Pt. 2
  72.   Seed
  73.   The Path
  74.   Fissiri Wali Polka
  75.   Sené (Working the Land)
  76.   Marbhrann Do Shir Eachann Mac'illEathainn / Lament for MacLean
  77.   Step Up
  78.   Urban Aire/Big Cat
  79.   Where Two Rivers Meet
  80.   Flight
  81.   Cyberia
  82.   The Migration Medley: Night Crossings, Pt. 1
  83.   Colossus
  84.   Life Begin Again
  85.   A Higher Love
  86.   The Migration Medley: Flight
  87.   Dark Moon
  88.   Rippling
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