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Dave Bainbridge

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Dave Bainbridge To the Far Away album cover
4.29 | 77 ratings | 6 reviews | 39% 5 stars

Essential: a masterpiece of
progressive rock music

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Studio Album, released in 2021

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Sea Gazer (6:12)
2. Girl and the Magical Sky (8:00)
3. Rain and Sun (4:12)
4. Clear Skies (6:21)
5. Ghost Light (14:13)
6. Cathedral Thinkers (3:09)
7. To Gain the Ocean (4:07)
8. As Night Falls (1:52)
9. Infinitude (Region of the Stars) (6:48)
10. To the Far Away (4:43)
11. Speed Your Journey (4:29)
12. Fells Point (2:58)
13. Something Astonishing (4:18)

Total Time 71:22

Line-up / Musicians

- Dave Bainbridge / many instruments

- Sally Minnear / vocals
- Iain Hornal / vocals
- Troy Donockley / high & low whistles, uilleann pipes, Cumbrian voices
- Frank van Essen / drums, solo violin, ensemble violins & violas
- Jon Poole / fretted & fretless basses
- Jonas Pap / cello
- Nigel Cameron / whistles
- Julie Cameron-Hall / violin
- Martin Nolan / whistles

Releases information

Format: CD, Digital
September 30, 2021

Thanks to mbzr48 for the addition
and to mbzr48 & projeKct for the last updates
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DAVE BAINBRIDGE To the Far Away ratings distribution

(77 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(39%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(32%)
Good, but non-essential (13%)
Collectors/fans only (7%)
Poor. Only for completionists (9%)

DAVE BAINBRIDGE To the Far Away reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by tszirmay
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Dave Bainbridge is without any question, one of my favourite current artists, having followed his path since the early Iona days, where my left eyebrow was first raised on numerous albums by that celebrated British prog band, such as Open Sky and the Circling Hour. Since those heady days, his solo albums such as Veil of Gossamer, Celestial Fire and Celestial Fire live have been decorated with every star at my disposal, though I would have added the Victoria Cross, La Legion d'Honneur and the US Medal of Honor, thus raising the other supercilium. His work with Lifesigns and Downes/Braide on guitar and the Strawbs on keyboards proves his mettle on all forms of main rock instruments and as such, has carved out quite the reputation in the prog community. David's guitar acrobatics are spirited to say the least, a heady blend of Hackett-like melody and Holdsworthian sizzle, obviously tinged with a Celtic sheen that can not and should not be denied. The music is therefore very spiritual, with warm cascades of Uillean pipes, tin whistles and bodhran, while also incorporating violin and viola, courtesy of former Iona stalwart Frank Van Essen, a fabulous drummer who is also a crack virtuoso on the strings. But do not be fooled by this side of their repertoire as these musicians have no fear of rocking and often blazing (The Celestial Fire live album is full of classic Yes reprises that will make your jaw drop). Powerful, heartfelt, and exhilarating progressive rock of the highest order.

Lately, Dave has been working with Sally Minnear, a female vocalist with a glorious voice (that name should be familiar to those fans of the Kind Behemoth that lived in a glass house, full of power and glory with a freehanded octopus and his three friends etc..). The apple falls not far from the tree, as the two have a chemistry that is hard to describe. Spirit, I guess. The lockdown had taken Dave away from touring with both Strawbs and Lifesigns, putting himself in composing mode and the result will probably outclass the previous glories as this whopper is a timeless classic of the finest vintage.

The sea churns, the lively gale and the salty mist coalesce as one, the cold fuses with the warm heartbeat of an unconquerable soul. "Sea Gazer" is a grandiose opener, a Celtic showcase that seeks to introduce the moody atmosphere that will permeate the entire set as well as the talent that this band owns in spades, with clubs, diamonds, and hearts in tow. The aptly named finale "Something Astonishing" perfectly conveys the scintillating 72- minute journey that any music fan can enjoy by inserting this masterpiece into their eternal prog collection. Sandwiched in between these two colossal pieces, 11 other tracks offer a plethora of variations on the adventuresome theme, such as the hugely contrasted epic "Girl and the Magical Sky" where gentle child-like serenity finds delicate piano ornamentations allied with the sweetest voice on one hand, smartly clashing with bombastic swells of unmitigated explosions of fiery organ, rampaging bass and screeching electric guitars, all held in place with deft yet muscular drumming. Dave's solo is a killer. "Rain and Sun" consolidates further this divergence of attitude, acting as a near segue to the previous piece, allying swelling string orchestrations with an Oldfieldian tinge that was last heard on Mike's Voyager album. The sense of flow lingers on "Clear Skies", where a playful guitar lead scours the clouds, tin whistles in support of another powerful mellotron fueled explosion, as Jon Poole's nimble bass hopscotches over the flat stones like some drunken madman, as also expressed by a charging synth solo that just kills it. Breathtaking!

Still woozy from the onslaught, Dave propels the core 14-minute blockbuster into the melee, the astonishing "Ghost Light", a showcase piece if there ever was one, showing off the talent described earlier, Sally's voice soaring mightily one moment, then suddenly hushed in internal contemplation. The Jon Poole bass guitar carves quite the path in the undertow, nimbly lunging across the sonic landscape, with plenty of ebb and flow. A male voice belonging to Iain Hornal from 10cc and ELO fame encourages the duet, raising the stakes even higher. The electric guitar slithers and slices the spectral horizon, towering, swerving, and veering into the stars above. This is such a majestic and grandiose adventure, magnificently played and sung! Wow! Really wow!

A trio of shorter tracks certainly help calming down all the previous goose bumps, an ornate piano and voice piece that evolves quickly into an extended synth, morphing into a wicked guitar ramble. Lots of polyrhythmic drumming complicate the mood, with great indulgence and a dazzling rip on the piano. Next, Iain Hornal takes the mike and enters ballad mode, with Donockley providing the slick Celtic accoutrements and Sally joins in. Breezy, sweeping ocean mist and loads of melancholia. ''As Night Falls'' ends this triumvirate with a solo guitar rant, an oozing flurry that squeezes every ounce of passion from the stringed neck, a mix of Latimer and Holdsworth rolled in one. Divine.

Van Essen leads some spirited violins and violas, combining with Julie Cameron-Hall, on a majestic neo-classical instrumental that is painfully strident and gorgeous, overwhelming, and touching. ''Infinitude (Region of the Stars)'' is an everlasting explosion on a timeless album. I am not always a fan of such orchestral interludes but this is just plain off the charts, both in gut wrenching emotion and technique.

The next four tracks seem to reflect another set (or suite) of tunes that continue to raise the bar. Starting with the thrilling title track, a more traditional Celtic jig, except the main protagonist is a devilishly exuberant electric lead guitar, doubled by violin, aided by sturdy bass lines and extraordinary drum fills. And just to add a little Irish/Scot sauce, Uillian pipes and whistles finishes off the delight. That Celtic undertone continues on the next piece, the rather hopeful sounding ''Speed Your Journey'' , where Sally gets to sing her piece , sublimely encouraged by wicked bass and drum support. Another jig like piece serves to showcase the rather complex melody, full of swerving notes, played at blistering speeds by all the musicians, Dave leading the band on his sulfurous guitar, mellotron swirls in the background. I mean, just incredible to listen to such dexterity! (Yngwie eat your heart out!) .

And the finale, a starlit gaze into the reflected sky, searches out the last drop of creative juice, offering up a glorious, almost cathedral-like experience, where organs, guitars and choirs are ablaze in ecstasy. A no nonsense top 3 album for 2021, a true prog classic. A must hear and a must have.

5 Remote Distances

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Virtuosic guitarist of IONA fame is back with another solo release--this time collaborating with a who's-who of prog nobility--many of whom worked with Dave or Iona in the past.

1. "Sea Gazer" (6:12) simple prog folk with catchy, if too-repetitive melody and fine performances. (8.75/10)

2. "Girl and the Magical Sky" (8:00) opens with poem being read over strummed mandolin. In the second minute band with organ set musical foundation over which multi-tracked voices of Sally Minnear establish a choral base. At 2:35 we break down to simple piano, mandolin, Uilleann pipes and whistles for a bit before scaled down multi-Sally choir rejoins. At the end of the fourth minute it strips down further to just piano and Sally. Beautiful ballad builds from here. bass, keys, background vocals provide gentle support. Then, in the sixth minute organ ramps up and rock band rejoins while Dave expresses himself through a commanding electric guitar solo. Strings, piano, and organ are doing interesting things in the wings. In the eighth minute pipes and Sally-choir return with full church organ to bring the song to a close. (Nice drumming, Frank.) (13.5/15)

3. "Rain and Sun" (4:12) an instrumental in which picked acoustic guitars and mandolin and synth washes are joined by Dave's plaintive solo electric guitar. Haunting melodies and music! Almost Genesisian. Final minute softens to become more orchestral, more IONA-like. (9/10)

4. "Clear Skies" (6:21) ethereal beginning turns into full-on IONA-like prog-rock romp. Interesting piano-with-whistles interlude in the third minute is followed by powerful prog jam in which Dave's electric lead really flames and the drums and bass really excel. A true display of virtuosity from Jon Poole and Frank van Essen! A top three song for me. (9.5/10)

5. "Ghost Light" (14:13) opens with more of Dave's excellent electric guitar lead play--with very little support. In the third minute things quiet down as keys, percussives, and acoustic strings provide subtle, delicate background for Sally's vocal. In the fourth minute as Sally moves into a chorus, the full band joins in but then things quiet down again for her second verse--this time accompanied by mail voice (whom I am going to assume is that of a-credited Iain Hornal). Unfortunately, the chorus is shaped and melodically too similar to an old YES motif. The instrumental section that begins after the second time through the chorus is interesting, as is its followup. Then in the ninth minute Sally is given another, more original approach to the chorus melody and delivery. This is great! Then the band returns, a little slower and more melody-centric, and thn Iain takes a turn in the lead. At the 11-minute mark Dave's wailing lead tears at our heart-strings--simply masterful, gorgeous guitar playing! You might say, if you threw away the first five minutes, this would be a full masterpiece. (26.25/30) 6. "Cathedral Thinkers" (3:09) piano arpeggi and Sally-vocalise open this before drums, bass, and soloing synth join in. Synth and lead electric guitar mirror each other in the second and third minutes. Nice! Very pretty. A very unusual finale with fading electric guitar being supplanted by speed-demon classical grand piano play. (9/10)

7. "To Gain the Ocean" (4:07) feels like the same song as before as the melody is here carried by male vocalist (Iain Hornal) and supported by same arpeggiating piano. In the second verse drums, fretless bass, synth strings, synth glockenspiel, acoustic guitars, and Sally Minnear join in. Absolutely gorgeous tapestry of music! Powerful song! (10/10)

8. "As Night Falls" (1:52) more dulcet wailing JEFF BECK-like guitar, this time with orchestral strings (both acoustic and synth-generated) support. Nice. (4.25/5)

9. "Infinitude (Region of the Stars)" (6:48) opens with slow-shifting strings arrangement which is joined by solo viola at 0:45. Reminds me of music to support some auspicious foggy film scene. The music and violin solo are not unlike those of Ralph Vaughn Williams' "Lark Ascending"--and may, in fact, be modeled after it. Really beautiful and complex. At 4:28 Sally Minnear's distant vocalise joins in, bring more of a human element into the landscape. It is brief, having the effect of turning the beautiful soaring music of joy and achievement into one of failure and sadness. Wow! What an amazing journey we were just taken on! (15/15)

10. "To the Far Away" (4:43) a very traditional Celtic melody turned almost mechanically into a rock song. I can see how this anthemic song could have been chosen as the title song and representative of this stage of Dave's evolutionary path. It is so solid. Almost perfect in a boring kind of way that makes me ashamed to be casting aspersion upon this kind of maturity and mastery. (9/10)

11. "Speed Your Journey" (4:29) Such a fine composition delivered to perfection! Though Sally's involvement is rather minimal it makes such a difference. (9/10)

12. "Fells Point" (2:58) another folk-rock delivery of what feels like old, traditional Celtic melodies. Very cool to have Troy Donockley and Dave (as well as the whistle players) mirroring each other on their respective specialty instruments. (4.5/5)

13. "Something Astonishing" (4:18) beautiful Ant Phillips/Genesis-like 12-string + synth washes opening before organ and lead electric guitar supplant at the end of the first minute. Another melody that could have come from liturgical or Celtic folk traditions here rendered by rock instruments. The final 70 seconds sounds like a fairy-like departure from Avalon over the sea. (9/10)

Total Time 71:22

While I've yet to really find any fault to anything Dave has contributed to, I have to admit to being lulled into a state of numb appreciation for his past albums. They are without question excellent albums with great compositions and stellar performances throughout, it's just that there comes a point where the Iona sound starts to sound homogenous. I really appreciate both the compositional mastery on display here as well as the level of performance commitments demanded of--and delivered by--his collaborators here.

A-/five stars; a minor masterpiece of progressive rock music; highly recommended for all fans of intricately composed and masterfully performed prog.

Review by kev rowland
5 stars It is now 30 years ago since I first came across Iona and the magical wonderful album which is 'The Book of Kells'. Since then, I have followed the career of those involved with some interest, and I do wonder if the millions of Nightwish fans ever look back to see what Troy Donockley was doing in his earlier days. Mind you, his old mate Dave hasn't been lazing around too much either. 2020 saw him producing the epic 17 CD 'Book of Iona' box set celebrating the 30th Anniversary of Iona, as well as contributing in various degrees to new albums by Kimmo Porsti, Cronofonia, Downes Braide Association, Lifesigns, Nick Fletcher, Glass Hammer, Celtish and Strawbs. If that wasn't enough to keep him going, he also found time to work on his fourth solo album, 'To The Far Away'.

Iona fans may well recognise those words as being from "Edge of the World" from 'Beyond These Shores'. That album recounts the ancient story of St Brendan's epic voyage across the Atlantic Ocean, whilst 'To The Far Away' tells a more contemporary story of lovers on opposite sides of the sea, separated for many months by the global pandemic. Dave and Sharon, who lives in Baltimore, were due to be married at the beginning of 2020, but it took until the very end of the year for it to take place due to the enforced and unplanned separation. All those emotions and feelings were pouring through Dave as he worked on this album, bringing in old friends and guests to assist him in building something very special indeed.

He worked with poet Lynn Caldwell on the lyrics, as he wanted to ensure the words were perfect for what he was trying to express. Musically, he of course provided the multiple instruments he is renowned for, while also recruiting Sally Minnear (Lord of the Dance, Celestial Fire) and Iain Hornal (Jeff Lynn's ELO, 10CC, Three Friends, solo artist) on vocals, Troy Donockley (Iona, Nightwish, The Enid, Maddy Prior) on Uilleann Pipes, whistles and voices, Jon Poole (Cardiacs, Lifesigns) on bass, Frank van Essen (Iona, Martin Garrix) on drums, violins and violas, Jonas Pap (Epica, Cronofonia) cello, Nigel Cameron (Celtish) whistles, Julie Cameron-Hall (Celtish) violin and Martin Nolan (Iona) whistles.

With a band like that behind him it is of no surprise whatsoever that the music is of the very highest order indeed, and the arrangements are immense. This is reminiscent at times of Iona, dream and very Celtic, but at others it is much more direct. The atmosphere created within is palpable, and I can imagine myself on the Western Isles again, going on a tramp, thinking of the girl on the other side of the ocean. The islands are a magical place, no wonder they make the water of life there, and just from playing this music I am transported back to a place on the other side of the world from where I now live. My grandfather was District Officer Coastguard Western Isles at one point, and my father grew up in a small village at the very tip of Kintyre, where he now lives again, and I can't listen to this without thinking of my times there.

Sally and Dave have a wonderful working relationship (their 2018 'Live In The Studio' album is also essential), which is perhaps no surprise given she is the daughter of multi-instrumentalist Kerry Minnear (Gentle Giant), so she literally grew up in music. Her vocals and melodies are clear and fine and are just what is needed at times to cut through the complexity of the arrangement. One of the delights of this album for me is that Dave allows himself to show some of his stunning soloing skills on tracks such as "Girl and the Magical Sky". But Dave is also content to take the back seat when it is right for the music, so although he may be providing focal points at different places, or the foundation, all the musicians and singers have their time in the spotlight ? it is all about the music.

I have been fortunate enough to hear many of Dave's albums over the years, and this is undoubtedly the finest of his career to date. We get long pieces, short ones, some that are simple, others furiously complex, instrumentals and others where the words are the focus. They are all imbued with that sense of majesty, mystery, atmosphere and Celts, and the result is simply stunning. Essential.

Latest members reviews

2 stars In my search for the ultimate Prog Folk album of the decade, I purchased Dave Bainbridge's new album. It's the only way you can hear it. Got to shell out the cash to put it in your ear. Small sections impressed me. Mostly Bainbridge's Gilmorish guitar work. That's about it. Too many recycled Ce ... (read more)

Report this review (#2653933) | Posted by omphaloskepsis | Monday, December 20, 2021 | Review Permanlink

5 stars To the Far Away is the fourth solo album by multi-instrumentalist, Dave Bainbridge; co-founder of Iona and currently a touring and studio member of Lifesigns and Strawbs, amongst other projects and collaborations. It is undoubtedly his finest solo album to date and perfectly encapsulates his Cel ... (read more)

Report this review (#2651285) | Posted by Squonk19 | Saturday, December 11, 2021 | Review Permanlink

5 stars A classic Celtic prog album, infused with brilliance, a joy to give careful listen to. From the outset, you know this is going to be a (an electric) guitar driven Celtic venture - and the guitar work is stellar - but watch out, there's so many surprises and delights to this album. Sally Mi ... (read more)

Report this review (#2634232) | Posted by astrophotographer | Monday, November 15, 2021 | Review Permanlink

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