STYLE: Celtic RATING OUR PRODUCT CODE: 12243-1266 LABEL: Open Sky OPENVP2CD FORMAT: CD Album ITEMS: 1 RELEASE DATE: 2005-01-10 RRP: £12.99
Reviewed by Tony Cummings
A classic album from 1992 from the Celtic fusion pioneers which has lost not one iota of its artistry in the passing years. The 1992 version of the band was a superb one with David Fitzgerald's sinuous saxophone and floatingly delicate flute a perfect counterpart to Dave Bainbridge's epic keyboard washes and bitingly elegant guitar work. These are shown off beautifully here, particularly on the evocative instrumentals which pepper this album of 70-odd minutes of music. But if the instrumental dexterity of the band is a highlight (and one must also namecheck Nick Begg's tasty chapman stick and Terl Bryant's dextrous percussion here) it's Joanne Hogg's hauntingly ethereal vocals which capture and enthuse the listener. As most people will know, the CD is inspired by the 8th century illuminated manuscript of the four Gospels the band looked at in Trinity College library in Dublin. Creating music which reflects the work of ancient illustrators and calligraphers may not have seemed the most obvious or commercial step for a band who back then were still in their formative years but the fact is, this is a complete creative success and often named as Iona's greatest work. Four selections focus on images for the four Gospels ("Matthew - The Man", "Mark - The Lion", "Luke - The Calf" and "John - The Eagle"), a 32-minute suite of instrumentals portraying Christ's temptation in the wilderness, arrest and resurrection. Hugely ambitious and hugely successful this re-mastered version brings out the full majesty of the work.
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The book of Kells' is an illuminated manuscript of the four gospels, written in Latin and dating back to the 8th century. This album, based on the book, took just a few of the many amazing illustrated pages as its inspiration, along with related scriptures from the Bible, Natural sounds, such as those of the sea, wind and rain are used on the album as they are the sounds that would have been heard by the monks who began the book on the island of Iona.