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Iona - Another Realm CD (album) cover




Prog Folk

3.73 | 81 ratings

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kev rowland
Special Collaborator
Honorary Reviewer
4 stars This is the latest album from Iona, coming out in 2011 and comes in a wonderful double CD digipak. Like their music, the artwork is immediately evocative and takes the observer to a different time and place. For those who are unaware, the band name is taken from a small island in the Inner Hebrides off the western coast of Scotland. It was a centre of Irish monasticism for four centuries and is today renowned for its tranquility and natural beauty. Although I have never visited the island itself, it is an area that I know fairly well as my grandfather was District Officer Coastguard for the Western Isles, and my father was brought up in (and has now retired to) a tiny village next to the Mull of Kintyre, called Southend. St Columba (one of the twelve apostles of Ireland) first landed at Southend (where his footsteps can still be seen) before moving to Iona and whenever I listen to their music I find myself transported to a land where the weather and scenery are rugged, the people incredibly friendly, and while life is hard there is a real feeling of mysticism and a closeness to religion. This is also very true of the very Christian nature of the band's songs, yet even if you view yourself as a non-believer this is never in your face enough to cause offence.

Thanks to their musical style, combined with Joanne Hogg's vocals, these guys will always find themselves compared to Enya and Kate Bush but in many ways that is unfair as they don't really sound like the latter and there is way more complexity and layers than the former. The current line-up is Joanne Hogg (vocals, vocal loops, piano, keyboard, beer shaker), Dave Bainbridge (electric & acoustic guitars, bouzouki, piano, keyboards, autoharp, beer shakers), Frank van Essen (drums, percussion, violins, violas, electric violin, vocal, glockenspiel, keyboard), Phil Barker (bass guitar, electric upright bass) and Martin Nolan (uilleann pipes, low whistles, tin whistles, vocals). Together they produce music that is timeless, folk and prog coming together to wrap around the listener and create a world that in many ways is far away from the present day.

If ever there was music that should only be played on headphones this is it, as to get the full benefit one needs to play this without distraction, preferably at night with a glass of Springbank Malt in hand, just sitting looking at the stars and drift away into their world.

kev rowland | 4/5 |


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