Throughout the ’80s and ’90s many proclaimed that rock was dead and the future of pop music would take its inspiration from the realm of dance. While the E-popping youth welcomed their new rock’n’roll and went raving, middle-aged new age rockers (Sting, Paul Simon, etc) went WOMAD.
Afro Celts quite clearly recognised the rich pickings to be had in both dance and “World Music”. Founded in the early ’90s by former punk turned World Music purveyor Simon Emmersson, Afro Celts have been incorporating instruments and music styles from around the world into a festival-friendly trance-dance model for some ten years. Perhaps inevitably, they’re mates with Peter Gabriel.
Seeds is the fourth installment in Afro Celts’ story so far, and as you might infer from the band’s name, features instruments most strongly associated with the World Music genre. There’s flamenco guitar on Cyberia, slide guitar and various pipes and flutes on Seed, African marimbas and drums peppering The Other Side, Corrs-esque fiddling on Deep Channel as well as different vocalists singing in a variety of languages.
The essential problem with this album is that for all of its melting pot of different styles and influences, musically it’s remarkably unadventurous. Any distinct sounds arising from the different instruments used is swallowed up by the underlying trance beats which constantly swathe them.
The result is quite often a hotch-potch of indistinguishable sounds, each counterpart actively diluting, instead of complimenting, the other. Slick production undermines the acoustic nature of many of the instruments, and the overall effect is more reminiscent of a building society advert than a genuine homage to its influences.