Iona - Open Sky

Year of Release: 2000
Label: Authentic Media
Catalog Number: 1901772
Format: CD
Total Time: 73:35:00

The roots of Iona lie in the beautiful British island by the name Iona, which is also called "The Holy Island" and in the history of Christianity in that place. Founder member David Fitzgerald visited the island in 1988 and realized our lives are centered around money, career, work, status, and we have lost all inner peace and serenity. That inner peace and serenity, was what he found there. From that, the first steps were taken that would lead up to Iona, a band that breathes this spirit of serenity and inner peace.

Although the basis of Iona lies in Christianity, and they play a lot of Christian festivals, I would not label them "gospel," but rather folk/Gaelic inspired progressive rock. Open Sky is their 7th and latest studio album, although it already dates back to 2000. It is my first time listening to their music and I am really amazed by the beauty of the album. Listening to Open Sky is as taking a stroll in the Garden of Eden, on an early summer morning, when it is still comfortably fresh and you enjoy the upcoming sun. Opener "Woven Cord" is a mixture of rock and Gaelic influences, mainly because of the use of the instruments, such as uillean pipes, whistles, bouzouki, played by Troy Donockley and e-bow, but also the guitars here, played by Dave Bainbridge, sound fantastic.

Drummer Frank van Essen also plays violins, which give some songs a melancholic, sometimes even classical touch, which works very well with the angelic voice of Joanne Hogg. She has a delicate, beautiful voice, really giving a voice to the beautiful atmosphere Iona radiates. One of the songs I love the most on the album is "Castlerigg", clocking over 9 minutes and mainly instrumental, with such a magnificent cultural sound to it. But also "Song Of Ascent", spread out into three separate songs, is a real gem.

The music of Iona reflects their beliefs and their love and really stands out in this world, where heavy guitars and mind-numbing riffs seem to dominate. Iona sends out sheer beauty and will really help you to appreciate the inner beauty and peace. I have enjoyed listening to this album very much and really felt relaxed afterwards. We must cherish bands like this, who are a place of rest in this unsettled world. Open Sky comes highly recommended.

[This review originally appeared August 2004 at the ProgPower Online review site -ed.]

Woven Cord / Wave After Wave / Open Sky / Castlerigg / A Million Stars / Light Reflected / Hinba / Songs Of Ascent (Part 1) / Songs Of Ascent (Part 2) / Songs Of Ascent (Part 3) / Friendship?s Door

Troy Donockley - uillean pipes, whistles, bouzouki, guitars, vocals
Dave Bainbridge - keyboards, e-bow, guitars, programming, bouzouki
Frank Van Essen - drums, percussion, violins
Joanne Hogg - vocals, keyboards, acoustic guitar Phil Barker - bass

Iona (1990)
The Book Of Kells (1992)
Beyond These Shores (1993)
Journey To The Moon (1995)
Heaven's Bright Sun (1997)
Woven Cord (1999)
Open Sky (2000)
The River Flows (2002) (box set)
Various - Songs For Luca
The Circling Hour (2006)

Live In London (DVD) (2006)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin UK

Added: November 27th 2004
Reviewer: Marcel Haster
Artist website:
Hits: 1836
Language: english


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