Afro Celt Sound System – The Source

The Source

Afro Celt Sound System’s (ACSS) new album, “The Source”, marks their 20th anniversary with their first studio album in 10 years.  This latest offering opens up with the cinematic “Calling in the Horses”, and although it may not quite be an all encompassing fire and brimstone introduction it certainly made me think of the sort of tracks you would have opening up a Ridley Scott epic like Kingdom of Heaven or Gladiator. “Beware Soul Brother” is a far more sombre slower affair with some lovely vocals, but so far “The Source” doesn’t quite have that Celtic sound, and there aren’t many dance beats propelling the music along and then, right on cue, “The Magnificent Seven” (ACSS meets TDF) makes its entrance.  It’s familiar territory that no doubt will keep fans happy.

The roll call of talent includes that vocalist, Kora and Balafon player N’Faly Kouyaté , Dhol drummer Johnny Kalsi , Simon Emmerson on guitars and Cittern, Davy Spillane with Uilleann Pipe and whistles, Ronan Browne with more Uilleann pipes, Emer Mayock with even more added Uilleann Pipes and Moussa Sissoka with talk drums and djembe.  “Cascade” is a whirlwind of talent that builds gradually, the title of this track really is apt.  “A Higher Love” (tune “Monskwell Road”) continues the eclectic musical collective, complete with some rapping midway, there really is something for everyone here.  “Honey Bee” fleetingly dips its toes into blues territory, before the charismatic energy of ACSS whisks the listener away onto another musical horizon.

“Where Two Rivers Meet” puts the breaks on, with a much slower reflective mood, an absolutely stunning track.  “Mansani Cisse” is a little brighter in its sound with the wonderful vocals of N’Faly Kouyaté taking centre stage. “Child of Wonder” is where Griogair Labhruidh, better known as Ghetto Croft, really comes to the forefront and the music takes a very different persona, and it works exceptionally well.

“Desert Billy” (tune “The Balcony”) is something of a foot stomper where you could get giddy whirling around dancing, whereas “The Communicator” takes on a more African feel.  Personally I felt “The Soul of a Sister” didn’t quite work, but thankfully it was curtailed by the far more party energetic “Kalsi Breakbeat”.  It’s a superb album and a welcomed return for ACSS.

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