Volume 5: Anatomic

by: Afro Celt Sound System

On Anatomic, the Afro Celt Sound System return as a streamlined quartet and to their original name. Following the CD/DVD remix project Pod, this is welcome return to the sound the band initiated on Seed. This is a group whose members no longer care about programming as their primary function, but instead work together -- writing, performing, and jamming -- as a band. The 14 guests here range from Celtic fiddle wizard Eileen Ivers to griot and kora master N'Faly Kouyate. The sheer heaviness and thudding beats are evident from the album's first cut, "When I Still Needed You," with the mighty Dorothee Munyaneza on vocals. Sevara Nazarkhan duets with the Afro Celts' tenor Iarla O'Lionaird on "My Secret Bliss," a seductive, deliriously romantic track created for nocturnal listening. Texture is everything on this recording. "Mojave" is a slow, gently swirling and droning piece with O'Lionaird working at the upper end of his register to reveal some of the mystery in the desert, and it works wonderfully as the cut shifts tempo and Emer Mayock's Uilleann pipes enter the fray in tandem with sequencers and James McNally's Edge-style pulsing guitars. The sheer loping beauty of "Mother," with its programmed sequencers elegantly making room for the pipes, acoustic guitars, and hand drums, is alone worth the price of the set, but when Munyaneza's vocal slips in through the back door and is joined by O'Lionaird's, it becomes transcendent. Ultimately, Anatomic is fresh sounding while retaining all the elements that made the Afro Celt Sound System so unique. It is a pleasure from start to finish, and may be their strongest album overall. ~ Thom Jurek

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