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Iona: Open Sky

Iona, population 175, is a small island (1 mile wide, 3.5 miles long) of the Inner Hebrides, Scotland. In 563 Saint Columba, exiled from his native Ireland, founded a monastery here, and from here Christianity spread to the rest of Scotland and north England. Many believe that the Book of Kells was produced on Iona at this time Today the Iona Community is a leading force in the present Celtic Christianity revival.

Adapted from and Iona's Website also has an excellent writeup on the island.

Some bands, it seems, can simply do no wrong.

Iona's elegant brand of Celtic rock is spiritually influenced yet imbued with Celtic mysticism, progressive yet retrospective, and a study in the fusion of traditional and modern music that will surely achieve classical status in the decades to come. The tremendous diversity in instruments has always been an important characteristic of Iona's music. There's the standard rock lineup, and there are traditional instruments like whistles and bouzouki, drummer Frank Van Essen also plays the violin, and of course, Troy Donockley's uilleann pipes have been a defining element of their music from the beginning.

Iona's seventh album runs from the ambient 22 minute triptych of "Songs of Ascent" parts 1, 2 and 3, through the dark Celtic "Castlerigg" which showcases Joanna Hogg's vocals beautifully, to the high energy 9 minute "Woven Cord" where guitar and pipes feed off each other's energy and build a wonderful duet that is at once complex and relaxing, driving yet mellow.

Listen for the classically trained musicianship, the state of the art recording quality, the deep sincerity behind every note of every song, and the traditional Celtic sounds put to complex, layered structures you can't fault this music! All you can do is compare it with the rest of Iona's discography: There's probably more energy to Open Sky than previous albums, and it comes across as the most focused and well composed album to date.

In keeping with the wee Scots island that is pictured on the cover and gave the band its name Iona remains alone in its sub-genre of Celtic rock, yet from here a certain spirituality just may spread to the rest of the world through this music.

Track Listing:
1 Woven Cord
2 Wave after wave
3 Open Sky
4 Castlerigg
5 A million Stars
6 Light Reflected
7 Hinba
8 Songs of Ascent (Part 1)
9 Songs of Ascent (Part 2)
10 Songs of Ascent (Part 3)
11 Friendship's Door

Added: October 31st 2004
Reviewer: Duncan Glenday
Related Link: Iona's Web Site
Hits: 3886
Language: english

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