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Iona - Open Sky CD (album) cover




Prog Folk

4.09 | 94 ratings

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Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer
5 stars Forgive me. This could be a long one. I have so many thoughts going around in my head when I think about this album, these songs, that island. IONA. I've never before sat down and read lyrics that had such an affect on me as those written for this album. I have said before that lyrics really aren't that important to me. Give me great music and i'll be happy. Not surprisingly the best quote I read about this band was from our own tszirmay who said IONA is more spiritual than religious. And if you read their lyrics and feel their music you would know exactly what Thomas means. I've talked about growing up in a religious home before, and how your led to believe that religion(church) and God are almost the same thing. Oh they would never admit that, but if you leave the church they will say your turning your back on God. Bullsh..! I don't want this to be a religious discussion, i'm anti-religious, but the words written by this band reveal how God is all around us, and they talk about experiencing him through nature in particular. I would imagine that to be on that island called Iona off the coast of Scotland without cars, TV ,work, stress and the endless running around that most of us do, that it would be the perfect place to enjoy God. Smell him in the sea air, hear him in the crashing waves, see him in the sun that sets. Yeah I know we can experience him anywhere, it's just not that easy sometimes. What did God say ? "Be still and know that I am God". It's hard to be still, to think, to focus, to imagine. Listening to this music does the trick though. When listening to "Songs Of Ascent (Part 2)" (an instrumental) while driving in my truck I felt transported to his very precence. Or was it just having my eyes opened to him being right beside me ? IONA are a band who don't preach but are clearly in love with God. I dig that a lot.

"Woven Cord" is an over 9 minute instrumental. They open with that spacey atmosphere they are famous for until heavy drums arrive before 2 minutes. Uilleann pipes and drums dominate the sound until it calms down after 5 minutes. The guitar a minute later is so beautifully played by Bainbridge. "Wave After Wave" opens with violin and harp? before we hear Joanne sing for the first time as drums beat away. She has the voice of an angel. Flute after 2 1/2 minutes. This is so incredibly powerful in an emotional way.

"I witness the power, great mystery telling In every moment, with every swelling wave I feel the depth of your love and devotion My heart like the bird that dives into this ocean blue"

"Open Sky" features Indain guitar and vocals with background synth-like sounds. A great full sound 4 minutes in. Spacey synths and acoustic guitar to end it. This one seemed to get better as it played out. "Castlerigg" is very Irish sounding with the tin whistles, uilleann pipes and later the celtic harp. Fragile vocals come in before 5 minutes with violin. Lots of vocal melodies a minute later. The tempo picks up for the last couple of minutes. "A Million Stars" is an instrumental of mournful violin throughout. The title reminded me of how as a kid I would lay on the grass and gaze in wonder at the millions of stars. "Light Reflected" is mellow for the first 3 1/2 minutes with the focus on the vocals. When she sings "Around the sun" 3 times, her vocals soar. Check out the guitar solo 4 minutes in.

"Hinba" features such a great vocal performance, and I love the atmosphere. "Songs Of Ascent(Part 1)" opens with what sounds like synths that wash over and over again like endless waves on the beach. It's not until 4 minutes in that drums and vocals arrive. You can feel the love in her voice as she sings "An emptiness for you to fill. My soul a cavern for your sea". After 7 minutes it becomes spacey like the intro with waves after waves calmly falling again and again. "Songs Of Ascent(Part 2)" is an instrumental over 9 minutes long. It opens with I believe the Portugese mandola that is eventually joined by violin and then a full sound. It quickly calms back down to almost a silence. Be still and know. He's here before 5 minutes. No words. Gentle piano comes in slowly 6 1/2 minutes in. Time to reflect for the next 2 minutes until this most beautiful sound rises like a sea of pure love to envelope us. "Songs Of Ascent(Part 3)" is a meditative piece where she sings these vocal melodies for 2 1/2 minutes, then uilleann pipes and drums kick in. It ends with this wondrous spacey soundscape. "Friendship's Door" is very atmospheric with slow paced, reserved vocals. She sings about the things that take her breath away like trees that sing in the wind, and clouds that chase but never catch. Seeing the invisible through the visible. Uillean pipes before 5 minutes.

This is their masterpiece. It's more than just music.

Mellotron Storm | 5/5 |


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