On a visit to Senegal in 1991, the London-born producer-guitarist Simon Emmerson was struck by an odd but compelling notion that the folk traditions of west Africa and western Europe were entwined. Since 1995, his Afro Celt Sound System has been a changeling entity, while cleaving to Emmerson’s utopian concept of a griot-druid fusion. This eighth and arguably most accomplished album pares back the electronica of previous incarnations for a more organic approach that captures the exhilaration of their live shows. Much of it lopes along on Afro-house rhythms, augmented by Johnny Kalsi’s dhol drums, while voices and instruments morph effortlessly, at times startlingly, between African gospel and Celtic ballad, rippling kora and haunting uilleann pipes.
Some of Flight’s best moments are nonetheless its most restrained. Its central theme, migration, finds resolution on the poignant Night Crossing, while the opening Lament for MacLean is a stirring a cappella performance in Gaelic by hip-hop crofter Griogair Labhruidh. There is also a version of Sanctus (the African mass featured in Lindsay Anderson’s If…) by the Amani choir whose stately opening slides into thumping celebration. At 75 minutes, Flight is a long haul, but its spirit and invention are unflagging and uplifting.Continue reading...
Sun Nov 25 09:00:05 CET 2018