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Iona - Beyond These Shores CD (album) cover




Prog Folk

3.68 | 60 ratings

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Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Although it's not a concept album there is a theme that runs through this record that was taken from the book "Celtic Fire".That book details amongst other things "The story of St.Brendan and the voyage he reputedly made across the Atlantic Ocean in the 6th century with 14 monks in a coracle (a boat made of leather and wood)". This voyage is referred to throughout the album on five mainly instrumental tracks, while the other mostly vocal tracks are about more contemporary issues and experiences. As the band says "The amazing thing was that Joanne's song "Beyond These Shores" (which had been written three months previously and already been chosen as the next album's title) seemed to fit Brendan's story exactly."

"Prayer On the Mountain" is really Brendan's prayer on the mountain. It's an instrumental that features flute and various sounds including synths. Robert Fripp plays guitar synth and Frippertronics on this one. "Thrak" would be a little ways away yet. "Treasure" may be my favourite song. Inspired by Luke 12:22-34 where Jesus tells the people to relax and to stop being so preoccupied with getting so they can respond to God's giving. It starts off with heavy drums, acoustic guitar and flute. Vocals come in for the first time on the record, sax arrives late. It's hard not to get choked up during this song, i love it. "Brendan's Voyage (navigatio)" has a spacey, atmospheric intro before Bainbridge starts to cut a swath through the soundscape with some fantastic guitar melodies.The spacey synths continue as drums, vocals and piano all make an appearance. This great tune is about the start of Brendan's journey after the prayer on the mountain. "Edge Of the World" is mainly vocals and flute but you should check out the long, drifting flute solo late in the song. "Today" is another one of my favourites. It has such meaningful lyrics as percussion (a yellow bucket) is played. This is another emotional song.

"View Of the Islands" is the third of the Brendan themes and features some intricate acoustic guitar melodies and flute. It all sounds so beatiful,and i swear the imagery that they can bring to my mind IS a view of the islands. "Bird Of Heaven" is another great tune. Tempo and mood changes are striking ! Some chapman stick on this one, as well as sax,synths and some soaring guitar. Nice. "Murlough Bay" is slower paced with vocals,synths and piano. The song gets louder 2 1/2 minutes in and it works to perfection. "Burning Like Fire" has a good rhythm and strong vocals as we are also treated to a scorching guitar solo. "Adrift" is the fourth in the Brendan themes. It features some unusual sounds like the bass guitar being played with a knife and fork, and the cymbals being hit and then being dipped in buckets of water, all to give that drifting in a boat feeling. "Beachy Head" was recorded live in studio. The flute, vocals and drums lead the way until the sax comes in at 4 minutes to give a long, emotional solo to the end of the track. The band says there were few dry eyes when they recorded this one. "Machrie Moor" was mostly recorded during "The Book Of Kells" sessions, but they added recorder and more keys to it for this album. It's very Celtic sounding with some violin as well. "Healing" is a straight forward,catchy tune. "Brendan's Return" is about his triumphal homecoming. I love the first part especially of this instrumental, it's so uplifting. This is the fifth in the Brendan themes. "Beyond These Shores" was inspired by Psalm 139.

Q Magazine had this one sentence to describe this album. "It's rare that a record has it's eyes set so clearly and literally on heaven." There are so many instruments used on this record that I didn't even mention.

Mellotron Storm | 4/5 |


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