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World Music CD Reviews Africa


Published April 19, 2006

Real World

This group’s unlikely name both reveals and deceives. Created as a one-time project, Afro Celts (formerly Afro Celtic Sound System) has released four albums that draw from African and Celtic music—and everything else, it seems. You can go for a while on Seed and not hear much of those genres’ traditional music (unless you consider U2 to be traditional Irish music). Singer Iarla O’Lionaird began his musical career singing in the old sean nos style of unaccompanied singing, but here uses his powerful, mournful voice to build dramatic climaxes not unlike Bono. African percussion and Celtic pipes do peek through the dense electronic thicket, but the group is as likely to use flamenco or Indian elements. Indeed, rather than comparisons to the Clancy Brothers or Ali Farka Toure, the group seems to be more in the progressive rock camp. The group’s sprawling songs build up momentum as they move through an array of soundscapes. The music may not be “authentic,” but anyone with an open mind could easily get carried away by the kaleidoscopic tapestry of sounds.