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Iona - The Circling Hour CD (album) cover




Prog Folk

3.73 | 49 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars Iona has made a long break between their last two studio releases. No less than six years.

But there are reasons to this. A major tour took place in 2000-2001, Joanne will give birth to a boy (which contributed to shorten the tour as well). The band also negotiated with their previous label to put their contract to a stop in order to start their own label "Open Sky".

They will release a compilation box set (four CD's) which took some of their time as well. Their first three CD's are a remastering of their first three albums + a fourth one completes it with some unreleased & remixed songs.

A benefit album is also released during this period (in 2003). "Songs For Luca" (Luca is David Brainbridge's son and suffers from autism). A myriad of stars will collaborate (The Flower Kings, Rick Wakeman, Karnataka and Gentle Giant amongst others).

Joanne will be pregnant for the second time and will give birth in May 2003. Several solo albums will be released as well and the band will also participate in a compilation of Celtic music in 2004.

Remastering of their most recent work will keep them busy during 2004 as well. During 2005, other solo projects as well as the release of a DVD were on their programme.

So, finally here we are in 2006 for this new studio album!

No surprise of course. Their pleasant folk music is still tinted with strong guitar breaks and the use of rare instrument provides an interesting mix. Both "Empyrean Dawn" and the long "Wind Off The Lake" are best heard to have a confirmation.

This album is pleasant all the way through. Ambient and peaceful music but with little highlights (except maybe "Wind Of The Lake" which is my preferred one). As usual a lot of their songs are highly instrumental but "Factory Of Magnificent Souls" leaves Joanne fully on the command and she delivers some stunning vocal performance. But we are used to this, aren't we?

The band is also proposing a suite type of song like in their previous and excellent work "Open Sky" (their best effort IMO). But "Wind, Water & Fire" cannot really compete with the brilliant "Songs of Ascent". "Wind" is particularly weak : smooth violin for over three minutes.

It is smoothly prolonged during "Water". Same atmospheric mood, somewhat too uniform and to speak frankly, a bit dull as well. Fortunately the longest part of this trilogy ("Fire") is substantially better. Even furious at times ! A wonderful guitar solo is also shining on here.

The most tranquil sounds ("Fragment) close this good album. Three stars.

ZowieZiggy | 3/5 |


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