Afro Celt Sound System

Released 05 September 2010

  1. Lagan
  2. Release
  3. Seed
  4. Persistence Of Memory
  5. Eireann
  6. When You're Falling
  7. Mother
  8. Further In Time
  9. Go On Through
  10. Rise Above It
  11. Inion
  12. Life Begin Again
  13. When I Still Needed You
  14. Mojave
  15. Deep Channel
  16. Colossus
  17. Sure-As-Not
  18. Uran Aire
  19. Big Cat
  20. Whirl-Y-Reel 1
  21. Dark Moon ("Gangs Of New York" Version)
  22. Shadowman
  23. Lovers Of Light
  24. Cyberia
  25. Chosen (Music From "Hotel Rwanda")
  26. Whirl-Y-Reel 2

Liner notes

When cultural historians and musicologists look back on this era, it might not be rock and roll and rap music that dominates their retrospective vision. It might be the burst of cross-cultural fertilization that took place in music as technology, global communication and economical trans-continental travel brought the sounds of the world together. Plugging into this development, Afro Celt Sound System executed a pan-global convergence that was so organic, you couldn’t understand why it wasn’t always this way.

By the time of their debut in 1996, cross-fertilization was already the musical vernacular of our era. But Afro Celt Sound System emerged from a profound realization of the connections between ancient and modern, the seeds of one planted in the fields of the other and then blown back on planetary winds, transformed. They weren’t dabbling, using ethnic sounds for color or exoticism. They were creating an electro-charged global fusion that promised a new musical relationship, one born from collaboration, drawing from ancient heritages wedded to modern electronics. The evidence is here on Capture, from the opening electro-African-Indian-aire of “Lagan” to the closing dervish of “Whirly 2.”

Afro Celt Sound System wasn’t supposed to last beyond one recording, let alone five CDs, (two of them Grammy-nominated), a remix album and this collection. They were an ad hoc group, one of many that got together in 1995 at Peter Gabriel’s Real World Studios in the west of England. But the Afro Celts had something many of the other assemblages didn’t: a vision.

Initially, that vision was a merging of African and Celtic music, weaving the threads of griot melodies and Irish aires, djembe grooves and bodhran beats, Celtic harp melodies and kora cycles. It was all wired into the circuit boards of electronic beats and synthesizer atmospheres pushing the music to another level, while transporting audiences to a higher ground, especially at festivals where the Afro Celts are favorites. If you saw them live, you’d experience a band who start at joy and quickly morph into rapture. An Afro Celt Sound System performance is a celebration at the global village crossroads. They make you think that maybe the world really was all one.

Photo credit: Kevin Westenberg

The Afro Celts pushed world music to the extremes, but they also challenged their own concepts, bringing in distinctive contemporary vocalists to spin their music in new directions. Sinead O’Connor appears here on the passionate lament, “Release” and Peter Gabriel on the buoyant “When You’re Falling.” When Robert Plant stormed the ramparts of “Life Begin Again,” they echoed Led Zeppelin’s “Battle of Evermore,” only with a pounding African groove.

If movies start rolling in your head as you listen to Afro Celt Sound System, you’re not the only one. Their combination of epic instrumentals and poignant, sometimes heart-breaking songs put them on the radar of film directors and music supervisors from Hollywood to Bollywood. Several tracks on Capture have been to the movies. “Chosen” was part of their score for Hotel Rwanda. Martin Scorsese picked “Dark Moon” for Gangs of New York while Pedro Almodovar deployed “Whirly 2” in Live Flesh. Stigmata, Duma, Tristan & Isolde— the list goes on. Film directors see what listeners feel in Afro Celt Sound System, music of panoramic vistas and deep emotions.

Ultimately, Afro Celt Sound System is music of connection. Each element is distinctive, but unraveling their seams, trying to determine where the bodhran rhythm begins, the djembe groove ends and the electronic beats plug in is like trying to find the beginning of a Celtic knot. It’s a euphoric, often hallucinatory whirl that hurtles in a roller coaster of delirious rhythms, instrumental cross-cutting and vocal incantations that leave you spinning.

Capture celebrates 15 years of exhilarating music from Afro Celt Sound System, but it also signals a new chapter for this band that is making true music of the 21st century. There are new grooves to discover, new melodies to sing, and old traditions to be reinvented, and Afro Celt Sound System is prepared to bring them together in their sound magic.

Words by John Diliberto

Photo credit: Kevin Westenberg


  • Even with such distinctive vocal stylists present, the sound of the Afro Celt Sound System shines through, one that has been highly influential and much-imitated. At times, it can almost feel all-pervasive— the soundtrack of the modern world. This collection perfectly captures and conveys that feeling. BBC Online (UK)
  • Deep soul and wicked intelligence... It was not just nostalgia for the 1990's that caused a packed marquee to unite in dancing deliriously at July's Womad Festival reunion. At 25 tracks, this compilation may be excessive, but it's great dance music crafted with deep soul and wicked intelligence, and has barely dated. The Times (UK)


Further Listening

  • Volume 1: Sound Magic

    Afro Celt Sound System

    Released 14 July 1996

    The sound of the past transforming into the future, this unique debut album was the first fruit of a collaboration between a group of the finest African musicians, their counterparts from the Celtic communities of western Europe and several of Britain's most respected dance music producers.
  • Volume 2: Release

    Afro Celt Sound System

    Released 25 January 1999

    Volume 2 represents the transformation of a project conceived at the 1995 Real World Recording Week into a cohesive band. The multi-layered production has many hidden depths, bringing out the delicacy of the acoustic instruments - harp, kora, talking drum, bodhran, djembe, whistle, guitar, Gaelic and African vocals - but placing them in a totally immersive Pan European context.

Further reading

John Metcalfe’s Tree in Dolby Atmos

Les Amazones d’Afrique celebrate the beauty of imperfection on new single ‘Flaws’

The all-female African supergroup kickstart 2024 with their infectious new single, ‘Flaws’.

A Tribute to Ernesto ‘Teto’ Ocampo (1969-2023)

Sidestepper's Richard Blair remembers his late bandmate Teto.

Sheila Chandra: The pursuit of radical vocal expression

Sheila's trilogy of albums for Real World is being re-issued on CD, and on vinyl for the first time.