Bainbridge, Dave - Veil Of Gossamer

Year of Release: 2004
Label: Open Sky
Catalog Number: OPENVP4CD
Format: CD
Total Time: 64:27:00

Best of 2004, hands down.

Surprised? Me, too! See, I'd never heard of Iona or Dave Bainbridge until very recently, but what I'd read was lavish in its praise for both band and band-member. Well, after listening to Veil Of Gossamer, I know that the press was well-deserved and that the praise will keep on coming.

That said, Dave Bainbridge is an immensely talented musician whose press just doesn't do him justice. As a songwriter, Bainbridge is not captive to any "style;" the songs here run the gamut, from pleasing Celtic folk (featuring Gaelic vocals from Mae McKenna) to soaring progressive rock and introspective ambience. His instrumental talents are equally impressive; the man plays "about 15 instruments" on Veil Of Gossamer. Bainbridge's guitar playing is superb; his electric solos conjure Eric Johnson and Alan Holdsworth, while his acoustic technique dazzles, thanks to a remarkable dexterity and the use of unusual tunings ("The Seen And The Unseen," "Seahouses").

That Veil Of Gossamer is a concept album (of sorts) should not surprise anyone. Dave Bainbridge is very much a spiritual man, and that quality inspired him to create Veil Of Gossamer. The theme is the very fine line (the "Veil") that separates this world and the next, and how the two worlds interconnect across that line. Recurrent lyrics and melodies are used to portray this connectivity and to provide a sense of completeness.

The real key to Veil Of Gossamer, though, is Bainbridge's arrangements. The man has a keen ear for combining voices and instruments in a way that doesn't just entertain, it moves. On the surface, each song (or "part") has real direction; there's no static motion, even in the most ambient moments. Looking deeper, the music is genuinely touching, possessing a spiritual quality that speaks to the soul and inspires various states of positivity, from peaceful tranquility to breathless exhilaration. Layers of wordless vocals - courtesy of Joanne Hogg (Iona), Rachel Jones (Karnataka), and Mae McKenna - and McKenna's heartfelt renderings of Gaelic hymns (in the original language) lend an ethereal, otherworldly quality to much of Veil Of Gossamer. Ethnic and tribal instruments add further weight and character to the music; Uillean pipes, tin whistles, bouzouki, and percussion instruments give a distinctive Celtic flair to most of the songs.

Yes, there's some fine symphonic rock scattered throughout, too. "Over The Waters" - the only "long song" that isn't a suite - is a rolling instrumental that introduces Bainbridge's flowing electric solos. "The Everlasting Hills," stretches across five parts and 19 minutes, and contains some of the album's best moments. "Part 1" features piercing guitar solos that stab through shrouds of symphonic ambience while recalling Genesis and Yes in a vague, almost cursory sense. "Part 3" again refers to Yes with an "Awaken"-style church organ in the latter half. "Part 5" crashes in with an engaging piano melody over which Bainbridge lavishes more solos, then climbs to a massive crescendo before surrendering to a surreal close. "The Race Home" is a brisk 7-count rocker driven that literally races along and would fit comfortably on a Hackett or Holdsworth album. The four-part "Star-Filled Skies" wraps Veil Of Gossamer in appropriately epic fashion, albeit with a lighter, more spiritual feel. "Part 2" recalls (but doesn't rehash) "Part 5" of "The Everlasting Hills," while "Part 4" twists from light piano rock to a vocal improvisation in the Urdu language (by Chris Hale) and closes with a final Gaelic verse drifting over the quietest of ambience.

Addressing the spiritual aspects of Veil Of Gossamer, this is a celebration of Dave Bainbridge's relationship with his God, just as Testimony was for Neal Morse Bainbridge, like Morse, is deeply inspired by this relationship and his music radiates that inspiration. But don't be put off, because Veil Of Gossamer is neither preachy nor proselytizing. Instead, it is uplifting and entertaining, and those are the two best reasons - that I know of - for making and listening to any music. So lift the veil and give a listen; like me, you may be surprised. Best of 2004, hands down.

Chanting Waves (2:17) / Over The Waters (7:29) / Veil Of Gossamer (4:56) / The Seen And The Unseen (2:17) / The Everlasting Hills (19:47): Part 1 (5:37) - Part 2 (2:34) - Part 3 (3:55) - Part 4 (2:54) - Part 5 (4:47) / Seahouses (3:06) / Until The Tide Turns (4:30) / The Homeward Race (5:26) / Star-Filled Skies (14:49): Part 1 (3:40) - Part 2 (2:40) - Part 3 (3:47) - Part 4 (4:42)

Dave Bainbridge - around 15 instruments ? including acoustic and electric guitars, piano, keyboards, bouzouki, mandolin, autoharp, small harp, balafon, and varied percussion instruments.
Joanne Hogg ? vocals
Rachel Jones ? vocals
Mae McKenna ? vocals
Chris Hale ? vocals
Troy Donockley - vocals, Uillean pipes, low and tin whistles
Frank van Essen ? drums
Tim Harries - bass guitars
Pete Fairclough - gongs, cymbals, chimes
Peter Whitfield - ensemble violins, viola
William Scofield - solo cello
Nick Beggs - bass guitars

Iona - Iona (1990)
Iona - The Book Of Kells (1992)
Iona - Beyond These Shores (1993)
Iona - Journey Into The Morn (1995)
Iona - Heaven's Bright Sun (1997)
Iona - Woven Cord (1999)
Iona - Open Sky (2000)
Dave Bainbridge/David Fitzgerald - Eye Of The Eagle (2000)
Iona - The River Flows (4-CD box set) (2002)
Iona - Songs For Luca (2003)
Veil Of Gossamer (2004)

Genre: Various Genres

Origin UK

Added: August 8th 2004
Reviewer: David Cisco
Artist website:
Hits: 2718
Language: english


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