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Afro Celt Sound System

Also known as Afro Celts

Country of origin:

Ireland, West Africa (particular countries not specified in promo literature)

Type of music generally:

World music


Most recent release, Capture (2-CD compilation, 2010); most recent studio release, Volume 5: Anatomic (2005)

See also:

Real World's Afro Celt Sound System page

A fan page


Deep Forest

Covers/own material:


General comments:

If you are into African and/or celtic music, buy Afro Celt Sound System. It's a dang good cd (actually, there are two volumes) and Caroline Lavelle is a guest on one of the tracks (cello playing). The group combines African and Celtic music with a techno-ish glue (sorta like Deep Forest). (

If the name sounds good to you, then you will like them. They sound just like their name, as long as you imagine a healthy dose of electronics tossed in with the traditional stuff. (neal)

I'd like to tell everyone who hasn't tried Afro Celt Sound System to do so. The 2nd cd is every bit as good as the first. Play it loud and often for maximum effect. (

An amazing blend of Celtic and African music. (

Comments about live performance:

They put on a really amazing show. A perfect blend of traditional music with electronics. Possibly the best concert I've seen recently; hands down the best dance concert of the year. (neal)

Recommended first album:

Volume 1: Sound Magic or Volume 5: Anatomic

Recordings include:

Volume 1: Sound Magic

Release info:

1999—Real World Records—CAR 2359



Ecto priority:

Recommended if the description sounds good to you

Group members and guest artists:

Ronan Browne—uilleann pipes, wood flute, mandolin, harmonium
James McNally—low whistle, bodhran, accordion
Davy Spillane—uilleann pipes, low whistle
Myrdhin—Celtic harp
Iarla Ó Lionáird—vocals
Ayub Ogada—vocals, nyatiti
Kauwding Cissokho—kora
Msamba Diop—talking drums
Simon Emmerson—guitars, drum, keyboard programming
Jo Bruce—keyboard, drum, programming
Martin Russell—keyboard, programming
Levon Minassian—doudouk
Manu Katche—cymbals
Simon Edwards—sintar
     Iain Macleod—mandolin
     James Mackintosh—bongos
     Gary Finlayson—banjo
     Angus R Grant—fiddle
Malcolm Crosbie—guitar
Caroline Lavelle—cello
Jocelyn Pook—viola
John Fortis—electric bass, keyboard loop
Zil—vocal drone

Produced by:

Simon Emmerson, Ron Aslan


The title pretty much says it all. Irish hybrids are my favorite, so this kind of thing always catches my fancy. It is a pretty intriguing sound though. (neal)

Volume 2: Release

Release info:

1999—Real World Records—7-24834-73242


Widely available

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Simon Emmerson—guitars, programming, keyboards
James McNally—keyboards, whistle, low whistle, bodhran, accordion
Iarla Ó Lionáird—vocals
Martin Russell—keyboards, programming, engineering
N'Faly Kouyate—vocals, kora, balafon
Myrdhin—celtic harp
Moussa Sissokho—talking drum, djembe

Guest artists:

Ron Aslan—programming beats
Ronan Browne—uilleann pipes
Michael McGoldrick—uilleann pipes
Sinéad O'Connor—vocals (track 1)
Ashley Maher—vocals (track 8)
Johnny Kalsi—dhol drums, tablas
Nigel Eaton—hurdy gurdy

Produced by:

Simon Emmerson and Martin Russell (additional production by James McNally and Ron Aslan)


Good. Not very deep music but nice floating trancey rhythms with African percussion and celtic solo instruments. A runner-up for my top ten of 1999 list. (Dirk.Kastens@rz.Uni-Osnabrueck.DE

I never heard of them before seeing their Guide entry, and not really looking at it I don't think, but just seeing that they had one, and being interested by the promise of the name, and keeping it in my head.
     The African-Celtic fusion is really interesting, and works well. Similar to Capercaillie's work with Sibeba on Beautiful Wasteland and there is a Putomayo collection of Afro-Celt music. (JoAnn Whetsell)

Excellent. (

Volume 3: Further In Time

Release info:

2001—Real World Records—7243 8 10184 0 8



Ecto priority:


Group members:

Simon Emmerson—all guitars, bouzouki, mandolin, drum programming
James McNally—high and low whistles, keyboards, bodhran, piano, accordion, harmonium, drum and keyboard programming
Iarla Ó Lionáird—vocals
Martin Russell—keyboards, programming, 'front of house' live sound
N'Faly Kouyate—vocals, kora, balafon (all tracks except 1, 2)
Johnny Kalsi—dhol drums, tabla, 'Kalsi kit' (all tracks except 12)
Emer Mayock—uilleann pipes (1, 2, 4, 8, 11), flute (11)
Demba 'Shadowman' Barry—vocals (6), dancing
Moussa Sissokho—talking drum, djembe
Mass—drum and keyboard programming (all tracks except 12)

Guest artists:

Nawazish Ali Khan—violin (1, 6, 7)
Nigel Eaton—hurdy gurdy (1, 7)
John Fortis—bass (3, 10)
Peter Gabriel—vocals and keyboards (3)
Sunil Kalyan—tabla (5, 9, 11)
Pina Kollars—vocals (9)
Pete Lockett—percussion (1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 11)
Mairead Ni Mhaonaigh—fiddle (4)
Julie Murphy—vocals (7)
Myrdhin—Celtic harp (8, 11, 12)
Liam O'Flynn—uilleann pipes (9)
Robert Plant—vocals (7)
Hossam Ramzy—percussion (all tracks except 12)
Screaming Orphans—vocals (3, 6, 8, 9, 12)
Ciaran Tourish—fiddle (4)
Rosie Wetters—solo cello (7)
Wired Strings—strings (5, 9)

Produced by:

Simon Emmerson, James McNally and Martin Russell


Another great album from this group. (JoAnn Whetsell)

This group continues to fascinate me with an interesting blend of styles and sounds. (


Release info:

2003—Real World Records—7243 5 81505 2 7



Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Simon Emmerson—guitars, mandolin, bouzouki, stapletone, additional programming, keyboards (1, 5a)
James McNally—keyboards, piano, high/low whistles, bodhran, additional programming, Javanese bamboo flute (1), guitar (5b, 8), string arrangement
Iarla Ó Lionáird—vocals
Martin Russell—keyboards, programming
N'Faly Kouyate—vocals, kora, balafon, standing n'goma drum
Mass—keyboard/drum programming, keyboards, shaker (5a, 5b)
Johnny Kalsi—dhol drum, tabla, okeido drum, 'Kalsi kit,' hand percussion
Moussa Sissokho—talking drum, djembe
Emer Mayock—Uilleann pipes

Guest artists:

Ron Aslan—additional programming (1, 3, 10)
Natalia Bonner—violin (9)
Jesse Cook—flamenco guitar (1)
Laurence Cottle—bass (3, 10)
Valerie Etienne—vocals (7)
Ali Friend—double bass (5a, 5b)
Martin Hayes—fiddle (5a, 5b), additional fiddle (7, 8)
Sharlene Hector—vocals (7)
Eileen Ivers—lead fiddle (7)
Michelle John—Douglas-vocals (7)
Pete Lockett—piccolo bongos (3, 10), taiko drum (4), brush darbouka (5a, 5b)
Nina Miranda—vocals (3)
Mundy—lead vocal (7)
Ayub Ogada—nyatiti (5a)
Screaming Orphans—vocals (4)
Hilaire Penda—bass (4, 8)
Hossam Ramzy—mazhar, shaker (2), Egyptian tabla (7)
Lucy Theo—viola (9)
Paul Turner—bass (2)
Katherine Watmough—violin (9)
Rosie Wetters—cello (9)
Jah Wobble—bass (9)

Produced by:

Simon Emmerson, James McNally and Martin Russell, Mass and Iarla Ó Lionáird


Released during their brief name change, Seed is another contemporary mix of African and Celtic music, but I think it's their tightest and most engaging album to date. Highly recommended for newcomers and casual or long-time fans. (JoAnn Whetsell)


Release info:

2005—Real World Records—094633180024



Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Simon Emmerson—guitars, bouzouki, cittern, mandolin
James McNally—low/high whistles, keyboards, piano, bodhran, drum/keyboard programming, accordion, harmonium, guitar, kalimba
Iarla Ó Lionáird—vocals
Martin Russell—keyboards and programming, engineering

Guest artists:

Johnny Kalsi—dhol drums (1, 3, 6, 7, 8), tabla (1, 4, 5, 7-9), percussion (4, 7, 9)
N'Faly Kouyate—kora (1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 9), vocals (4)
Emer Mayock—uilleann pipes (3, 6), flute (4, 6)
Moussa Sissokho—talking drum (3, 4), djembe (3)
Mass—keyboards, drum and synth programming (all), bass guitar (6)
Eileen Ivers—fiddle (4, 6, 8)
Dorothee Munyaneza—vocals (1, 7)
Sevara Nazarkhan—vocals (2)
Ian Markin—drums (3, 6, 7, 9)
Francis Hylton—bass guitar (2, 7, 9)
Nigel Eaton—hurdy gurdy (1)
Richard Marcangelo—percussion (1, 2, 4, 6, 7)
Hossam Ramzy—percussion (3)
Ron Aslan—additional programming (9)

Produced by:

Simon Emmerson, James McNally, Martin Russell, Simon 'Mass' Massey


I started getting a bit bored with Afro Celt Sound System on their Vol. 3: Further In Time album. Then Seed came along (as Afro Celts), and the group just seemed newly revitalized. Not so much in terms of energy and intensity as in the blend of their influences. Anatomic continues in that vein and features more vocals (both by Iarla Ó Lionáird and guests) than previous albums. I can't quite explain how the sound is different, but it's definitely my favorite Afro Celt Sound System album to date. Highly recommended. (JoAnn Whetsell)

Thanks to JoAnn Whetsell for work on this entry.

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Entry last updated 2011-03-06 14:59:24.
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