Celtic music is usually lumped in with African and Caribbean music on the "world music" charts, even though the connection is not always obvious. The three O Snodaigh brothers of Dublin grasped the link, however, and formed a band called Kila to explore how the lilting melodies of Ireland's flutes, pipes and fiddles might be bolstered by the rumbling percussion and syncopated bass lines of Jamaica and Nigeria. The first lab result from the experiment was "Mind the Gap," a 1995 album only released in Europe. The septet's second album, "Tog E Go Bog E," has now been released in the U.S.
As glorious as Celtic music is in the upper and mid-ranges of human hearing, it has always been a bit underdeveloped in the lower range. Kila seeks to correct that imbalance by giving the bodhran, the Irish hand drum, greater prominence in the sound mix than it usually has and by adding electric bass and exotic percussion. The compositions -- mostly by singer Ronan O Snodaigh, multi-instrumentalist Rossa O Snodaigh and fiddler Dee Armstrong -- draw on traditional ceili music, but the arrangements inevitably drift into unorthodox harmonies and rhythms.
Five vocal numbers -- four in Gaelic, one in English -- join the nine instrumentals. With the exception of Eileen Ivers's recent discs, "Tog E Go Bog E" is the most impressive example of Celtic fusion music yet, for it preserves an essential Irish identity while venturing into strange, new territory -- as the emigrating islanders have for years.
Appearing Monday at IOTA.
To hear a free Sound Bite from Kila, call Post-Haste at 202/334-9000 and press 8125. (Prince William residents, call 690-4110.)