Bainbridge, Dave - Veil Of Gossamer

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

Dave Bainbridge is not an unknown commodity. He is the co-founder of Iona, a group that transcends several genres of music. For a band that contains Christianity at its core, their music successfully and surprisingly spreads into the fringes of progressive rock. They can sound like The Flower Kings or Mostly Autumn at times. Other times their music is more like easy listening, interchangeable with the sounds of falling rain, trickling water, or a gust of wind. Dave Bainbridge's album, while slightly more aggressive, is some of the same fare. He has incorporated some talented guests and unquestionably mastered this style of music. The music plays like a soundtrack to an epic drama like Braveheart, Last Of The Mohicans, or Dances With Wolves. There are two distinctly different themes interspersed throughout the album. For this reason, it takes awhile before everything sinks in. Eventually, with enough replays, it all comes together and clicks.

A talented singer by the name of Mae McKenna sings all the vocals in Gaelic. Troy Donockley and a cast of many others help out with a variety of instrumental tasks. Troy, in particular, brings some wonderful whistles into the fold. The album features many other instruments that include electric guitars, nylon-strung guitars, Fylde Oberon Steel and Manson Magpie Steel strung acoustic guitars, keyboards, piano, mandolin, balafon, bouzouki, star bells, bongos, hand drum, Indian and Struck tambourines, shakers, finger cymbals, tin whistle, autoharp and even a 5-string harp. David plays the majority of instruments found in this impressive list.

As described in the album notes, Veil Of Gossamer is based on one of the miraculous incidents that occurred in the life of St. Cuthbert. Upon St. Aiden's passing, St. Cuthbert saw strange lights soaring into the heavens. The coincidence of these events was seen as a miracle and it's the basis for this album. For a more complete interpretation of the concept, one could look to the book Fire Of The North (The Illustrated Life Of St. Cuthbert).

Each one of these shining stars can be seen shooting through St. Cuthbert's sky:

"Chanting Waves" - Mae McKenna opens the album with her Gaelic singing. Her style is reminiscent of Enya's soft-tempered timbre. The trickling of water, bells, and a violin accompany her voice.

"Over the Waters" - After being lulled to sleep by the previous track, this song is like the awakening of a new day. The light shines through the curtains. Creatures all around wake up and call out to each other. The cool fresh air brushes through the branches of the trees nearby. Piles of dirt, moss, and leaves pulsate as a cyclone of wind twirls on top of the soil's surface. The song is a sweeping change of emotion that demonstrates Dave's undeniably awesome abilities with a guitar.

"Veil Of Gossamer" - The piano and violin play in the twilight of the woods. They are surrounded by towering trees. The musky scent of wet leaves and bark fill the air around them. Troy Donockley's tin whistle is an intermittent chill that causes your skin to shiver. This song stands alone. It brings us to a magnificent climax where all the instruments come to congregate in the clearing.

"The Seen And The Unseen" - This short segue features a pair of acoustic guitars, but only one musician. Dave Bainbridge overdubs the melody with an accompanying part set to a separate scale.

The Everlasting Hills

This is the first of two epics on the album. It's comprised of five parts that diverge in different directions, but work well as a whole.

(Part 1): The first part of the epic is not too much unlike one of Van Halen's guitar solo. It is joined by chanting voices and atmospheric keyboards.

(Part 2): Mae stands alone in isolation singing in her Gaelic tongue. Her voice is a bright light that fills up the darkness. Later, Joanne Hogg joins her with several English verses. This is a charming combination of the two languages.

(Part 3): Chanting, an array of acoustic and electric guitars, bells and bongos give this a worldly feel. The song completes with cheerful keys and jazzy drums. This jovial piece is one of my favorites from the album.

(Part 4): This piano interlude is simple, yet wondrous. What makes the album most interesting is the range it covers as it climbs peaks and descends upon valleys.

(Part 5): The pace picks up in an uplifting finish to the epic. The themes introduced in "Over The Waters" are masterfully rearranged. The song is so significantly different, yet the familiar melody is still in there. The drums and keyboards add a tremendous touch. The song is like the exhilarating freefall in a sky dive. After the chute opens, there is a long glide back to the landing.

"Seahouses" - An acoustic guitar dominates this song. It is sweet and simple like Spock's Beard's "Chatauqua."

"Until The Tide Turns" - The tide actually does turn; making this a fitting title to the song. Mae sings in an angelic fashion along with Frank van Essen's violin and Dave's piano. The lyrics are sung by Joanne in English and they're spiritual in nature.

"The Homeward Race" - The guitar sprints through the fields. It is fast and filled with elation. Dave shreds in a style similar to Joe Satriani.

Star-Filled Skies

This is the main storytelling piece. It is comprised of four separate tracks that recount St. Cuthbert's story of the heavenly lights seen in the sky. As Dave was recording the album, he used a wall hanging from Alice Kettle, a textile artist, for his inspiration. Alice knew nothing about the music that Dave was recording, yet the artwork was quite fitting. Dave ultimately used Alice's art on the album cover.

(Part 1): The opening to the epic is again sung solely in Gaelic. Mae's voice is joined by an acoustic guitar that is confident and courageous. This aspect of the song sounds like Pendragon's "Man Of Nomadic Traits."

(Part 2): This part is whimsical, melodic, and catchy. Unfortunately, it is brief. In a short span of time, it climbs to extreme elevations and reaches the highest peak in the highland. It's the supreme highlight of the album.

(Part 3): The calm before the storm. It is a basically a stack of string instruments. Mae's voice lifts our spirits high above the treetops.

(Part 4): This is a wonderful way to end the album. The themes are cleverly reprised. It a song that feels good no matter the time, the place, or the day. In an album that is rich with happy thoughts and feelings, this is a great reward for making your way through to the end.

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: October 24th 2004
Reviewer: Joshua "Prawg Dawg" Turner
Artist website:
Hits: 1531
Language: english


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