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Iona - Another Realm CD (album) cover




Prog Folk

3.58 | 64 ratings

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Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer
4 stars 'Another Realm' - Iona (7/10)

Perhaps moreso than any medium of art, it is difficult to give a proper numerical 'rating' to music. Sure, some music is generally agreed upon to be 'better' than other music, but when it comes down to it, a rating can depend greatly not only on a listener's taste, but the way they are feeling. Had I listened to Iona's 'Another Realm' with a more volatile mindset, I may have dismissed it, or brushed it off as sounding aimless, or even flat. Fortunately for me, Iona's music has come to me on a night where I have been looking for something to calm my nerves, and 'Another Realm' accomplishes this quite well. From its cinematic length to consistently calming atmosphere, 'Another Realm' will not connect with a great deal of progressive rock listeners. Although the band miscalculates some aspects of their work here, 'Another Realm' is a soothing wander through Celtic ambiance.

Although it may surprise progressive rock listeners, the closest thing to compare Iona to would be the new age work of Enya. Like Enya's music, Iona is focused on lush waves of pleasant sound, and soft female vocals lilting and soaring above. There are few conventions of prog here; there may be a handful of longer compositions, but don't expect epics of a 'Supper's Ready' nature. The songwriting is not concise on 'Another Realm', but neither is it complex. For the most part, the music here will drift to the background of a listener's attention, providing a warm back track to whatever they are doing, even if that is simply resting. Take that as you will; Iona aims their music towards a more gentle echelon than I am used to from music, but it works in their favour.

Joanne Hogg's vocals are likely what will strike listeners first, her voice is charming and gentle, yet surprisingly technically adept, considering the sort of music. Although the melodies can be virtually taken for granted, she adds a certain amount of stylistic flair to the sound, adding notes where they are not necessary, but compliment the beauty that Iona creates. The lyrics revolve largely around Christianity and religious salvation; it does not personally appeal to me as a lyrical topic, and I trust many will feel the same way about it. Regardless, I think Iona's greatest strength here is their ability to make such soft instrumentation interesting and enjoyable. Frank van Essen's cinematic strings work ranks as the highlight of this journey. As far as its weaknesses go, it should not have to be mentioned that the hundred minute length of the album goes long past its welcome, and could have said just as much with half the time. Of course, 'Another Realm' is an album for moods where you're not going to be worried about effective use of time. It's a piece of music for quieter nights, and for what it is, it's a success.

Conor Fynes | 4/5 |


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