Iona - Another Realm

Published Tuesday 19th July 2011
Iona - Another Realm
Iona - Another Realm

STYLE: Celtic
RATING 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10
OUR PRODUCT CODE: 115967-18283
LABEL: Open Sky

Reviewed by Mike Rimmer

For the first time Iona present us with a double studio album with over 100 minutes of new music and it is absolutely stunning. If like me you've missed the Iona of the early years who mixed outstanding music with a deeper spirituality, then you'll welcome 'Another Realm'. There have been some changes so the album introduces Martin Nolan on pipes and whistles but it also seems that across the board, there's something new and invigorating about the band. It's almost as if the band have undergone a spiritual revival and it underpins everything that is here. Right from the opening cut "As It Was" with its opening refrain "Iona of my heart," there are echoes of the band's early recordings as if they have gone back to their Celtic spiritual roots and once more journeyed to the isle of Iona. Produced by Dave Bainbridge and recorded at different band members' studios in England, Ireland and the Netherlands, there is the usual huge panoramic sound we've come to associate with the band but this time it comes with a fresh warmth and richness. Not only that, the whole album is packaged up in a gatefold sleeve with the most beautiful and fully integrated cover art I've ever seen! Everything you have ever loved about the band is here - astounding, multi-layered music, the gorgeous vocals of Joanne Hogg, the pipes, whistles and violin work which adds so much character and songs that make the heart glow. From the haunting Wytze Valkema collaboration "The Fearless Ones" with its opening shofar blasts to the epic "An Atmosphere Of Miracles" and beautiful "The Ancient Wells", there isn't a single moment where this doesn't deliver. On the latter, Joanne sings, "The ancient wells will be opened again and your river will flow," and it feels like that thought sums up what has happened with 'Another Realm'. Iona have rediscovered their passion and their purpose.

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.

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Reader Comments

Posted by Edward San Martin in Anchorage Alaska @ 03:28 on Jul 20 2011

I wholeheartedly agree with the review! I only wish I could see them in person!I love their message and creative flow. I even bought a Fernandes guitar which is great (thanks David for the inspiration).

Posted by Rodger Fisher in Doncaster @ 20:51 on Jul 19 2011

I can't stop playing "Another Realm" either! It is not only the best Iona CD for many years, I think it is the best Christian CD as well. My favorite track has got to be The Ancient Wells but its shear joy is in the journey that the listener is taken on. Awesome!! Don't hesitate - just buy it!!!

Posted by Sam in West Midlands @ 19:39 on Jul 19 2011

This album captivated me from the second listen. It is full of awe-filled joy and vitality - ingredients that are very mich missing from today's egotisitcal mainstream music. Joanne Hogg's voice is truly angelic, the musicianship of the whole band is astonishing to say the least. Not only are they edifying to listen to, they inspire me as a musician. (guitarist)

I have been listening to this band since the early 1990s. Any newcomer reading this, I recommend you explore the extensive back catalogue of this band, as you will not be disappointed.

Posted by Clive McLaren in United Kingdom @ 11:42 on Jun 30 2011

I have received this superb double album for Fathers Day only a week or so after seeing Iona perform nearly two hours of their latest composition and some older favourites like 'Iona' and 'Irish Day'

Their music is hard to put into any genre, as the influences derive from so many sources, including Irish folk, progressive rock, jazz, classical and a fusion of them all, which are held together beautifully by Joanna Hogg's powerful yet melodic voice.

The musicianship is at times is breathtaking! Not often will you hear a brilliant drummer (Frank van Essen), pick up a violin and play haunting refrains accompanied by waterfalls of keyboard notes as in the track 'Ruach' Dave Bainbridge's stunning guitar work reminds me of Steve Howe and Steve Hackett.

His guitar duels with Uilleann pipes played by the virtuoso Irishman Martin Nolan are exciting to listen to and even better to watch.

Several tracks like 'The Ancient Wells', 'And the Angels dance', and 'White Horse' appeal immediately, whilst others like the 15 minute 35 seconds, 'An atmosphere of miracles' take a few more plays to really appreciate.

As ever the lyrics are inspiring and draw the listener
into Christian themes that are often poetic and moving in their own right, but many like the soothing track 'Saviour' help one focus on Jesus who is obviously the center of Iona's inspiration and message. I hope readers will buy this 90 minutes of amazing listening; you won't be disappointed!

Reply by Neil McFarlane in Paisley @ 23:52 on Jul 11 2011

Couldn't agree more : stunning music, brimming with joy and life.

If you only buy one cd in 2011 then buy this : like me you'll have it on repeat, again and again and again !

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