When Afro Celt Sound System burst onto the music scene some 15 years ago their impact was so instant, so astounding, that it hit like a thunder crack. Here was a band unlike anything else, a band whose fusion of West African rhythms, Irish traditional music and cutting-edge dance grooves battered the senses and unleashed a wellspring of joy and liberation. Festival audiences did a double take then danced like dervishes. Albums flew off the shelves. There were awards. Grammy nominations. Star turns on big film soundtracks.
Afro Celt Sound System were the perfect storm: a phenomenon whose confluence of elements swept you away on a journey of light and shade, delicacy and power. When they added diverse new touches – Indian bhangra, Arabic influences, dub reggae, more – they did so seamlessly, in ways that only enhanced their sound and emphasised their openness. A supergroup whose line-up expanded and evolved around four core members (Simon Emmerson, James McNally, Iarla O'Lionaird, Martin Russell), the Afro Celt's pan-global sound redefined dance music and stumped music critics. They remain defiantly, enigmatically uncategorisable.