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Iona - Iona CD (album) cover

IONA

Iona

 

Prog Folk

2.81 | 27 ratings

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Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer
4 stars IONA are a Christian band from the UK who play a Celtic flavoured brand of music. They have taken their name from an island off the west coast of Scotland.Their attraction to this island can be traced back to a man named Columba who arrived from Ireland (563 AD) to set up a Christian monastery and mission base from which the gospel was spread into Scotland and Northern Britain. Columba would make Iona his home, and would live out his days on this island. Vikings would sack the monastery in 794 AD, and later in 806 AD Vikings would kill 68 monks. As a result the shrine was moved from the island to Ireland. Norse pirates would plunder the island and kill the Abbot and 15 monks on the White Sands in 986 AD. The last of the monks leave the island in 1204 AD. In 1591 AD Scots parliament passes an act suppressing all monasteries. In 1840 AD Iona parrish church is built by Thomas Telford. And finally in 1938 after years of neglect, the remaining abbey ruins begin to be restored by the founded Iona Community.These notes were taken from the bands liner notes in regards to the instrumental called "Trilogy" that tries to put into musical terms the history of the island of Iona.1400 years of history in less than 9 minutes. I felt this was important enough to write down because their albums focus so much on the island and it's history.

The band use a variety of traditional instruments such as uilleann pipes, Irish whistle, piccolo, flageolet, violin and bouzouki. This is an exciting album when you know the history, as the band try to focus on atmosphere and mood over melodic songs. Even the album cover has a mystery about it, as you consider all the history of the land on which the band is standing.

"Turning Tide" is a short song that is all about creating a haunting mood. With the uilleann pipes, acoustic guitar and synth washes leading the way. "Flight of the Wild Goose" is a fantastic instrumental. This was IONA's first ever composition.The wild goose is the Celtic symbol for the Holy Spirit.Tempo shifts with some really good sax melodies and scorching guitar all contribute to make this song a highlight for me personally. On "The Island" we hear vocals for the first time on this album. She sings "Break the chains of this land, free the spirit of man". "White Sands" is a hauntingly beautiful song that brings to mind that tranquil place on the island of Iona where there was a terrible massacre.

"Dancing on the Wall" is dominated by vocals and drums and is quite catchy. It was inspired by the images of the people of Germany (East and West) dancing on the tumbled remains of the Berlin Wall. "A'Machair" is Gaelic for "A plain". It refers to the plain on Iona. This is one of my favourite songs on this album. It is incredibly atmospheric with flute, synths and sax before we get a beautiful melody of guitar and drums. "Vision of Naran" opens with fragile vocals as percussion, flute and guitar come in. "Beijing" is about the massacre of protesting students in China (1989). "Iona" was the first song that vocalist Joanne Hogg wrote for the band. How it came to be written is told by Joanne herself on the live album "Heaven's Bright Sun". "Trilogy" I touched upon in the beginning. "Here I Stand" has vocals and again mentions the wild goose. "Columcille" is written in memory of Columba (or Columcille). This is another Celtic song that sounds great.

Well this is where it all started for this amazing band. And although it's not their best album, it is very significant and a good example of the sound that they are famous for.

Mellotron Storm | 4/5 |

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