Coming off of what could have been a glorious one-off experiment, the Afro-Celts decided to grab for a little more exposure by starting what has now become a tradition in their work: high-profile guest artists. None other than Sinead O’Connor kicks the proceedings off with her compassionate vocal for “Release”, for which she also wrote the anti-violence lyrics (the album is bookended with an instrumental version of “Release” as the last track, and O’Connor’s credit is the only one missing among the songwriters).
If there’s one thing that strikes me upfront about Release, it’s the increase in atmosphere. Songs such as “Ãˆireann”, “Hypnotica” and “Even In My Dreams” are drenched with an almost eerie feel. Most of the tracks top out upward of six and seven minutes, and I’m fine with that – the dense rhythms need time to evolve and develop, else they’d seem a little forced if we were hit over the head with them all at once. But sometimes the atmosphere isn’t about rhythms – it’s about building a tone for the song before the percussion kicks in.
“Release” and “Amber” really win the prize for being this album’s most relaxing songs, while “Big Cat” and “Riding The Waves” prove the Afro-Celts still have the chops necessary to turn out some hyperkinetic heavyweights that wouldn’t be out of place on the dance floor. In all, a very cohesive collection and most enjoyable.