Afro Celt Sound System embrace the Eigenharp

Afro Celt Sound System, a pioneering and thrilling live band are returning to action this summer for the first time in five years. Twice Grammy-nominated and multi-million album selling, the band have contributed to the sound tracks of numerous films including Hotel Rwanda and Gangs of New York.

We delivered an Eigenharp Alpha to James McNally and Martin Russell at their post production studio in London. James is a talented Producer and multi-instrumentalist who plays whistles, bodhran and keys. Martin is their sound engineer and producer. James has already been playing the Pico, something that has given him an insight into the endless sonic possibilities the Eigenharp can provide musicians with.

Their ethos is driven by merging technology with tradition, their music, an amalgamation of cultures.

Afro Celt Sound System are constantly on a quest for new means to create the textures and colours their music has become renowned for. They have described their creative process as an ongoing journey of mixing sounds and then taking them somewhere new.

James sums up their approach nicely “No sound is not allowed in the door. Some of our performers speak different languages. Music is the common language both in the studio and live. It allows the audience to come in.”

The mix between different cultures, technology and traditional instruments has seen them collaborate with different artists on each album. Sinead O'Connor, Robert Plant and of course, Peter Gabriel, who signed the band to Real World records have all contributed.

James describes their renowned live shows as “almost like a play. Evolving, moving and people are in awe of what is going to happen next.”

Martin is particularly excited about the applications the Eigenharp Alpha could have in performances. Controlling images and lights on stage is “an instantly radical opportunity for live.”

So – how would these world music virtuosos describe the Eigenharp? James's initial thoughts are pretty exciting - “Extra terrestrial, sonic, orgasmic open book … an Afro Celt instrument.” He continues “The openness of it and where it could lead you is incredibly inviting. I want to see what it could help me create.”

The band say the Eigenharp will be big part of their fresh album planned for next year and will open their Barbican show with Alpha in November.

The band has broken down musical barriers and celebrated cultural differences to create an organic whole out of many parts. As far as being part of the Afro Celt Sound System goes, well ... “On a good day its a bit like a united world with a big silly grin on its face making a wonderful, joyful racket.”

The only rule, according to James and Martin is “if it sounds good, it is good”.

Check out the Afro Celt Sound System on Myspace and on their official site.

Afro Celt Sound System appearances 2010:

  • Hop Farm Festival - UK 2nd - 3rd July
  • The Big Chill - UK 5th - 8th July
  • Hebridean Celtic Festival - Scotland 14th - 17th July
  • Colours of Ostrava - Prague 15th - 18th July
  • Womad - UK 23rd -25th July
  • iTunes Festival - UK 1st - 31st July
  • Dranouter - Belgium 5th - 8th August
  • Electric Picnic - Ireland 3rd -5th September
  • Barbican Centre - London 2nd November

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