Exposé Online banner

Iona — The Book of Kells
(WHAD 1287, 1992, CD)

by Peter Thelen, Published 1994-08-01

The Book of Kells Cover art

Imagine the best elements of Enya/Clannad blended with the folk-rock presence of Fairport Convention with Sandy Denny, make it a bit more progressive and powerful, and top it off with a Christian oriented theme, and you'll have an idea of where Iona is at on this, their second album. They are a five-piece from the UK fronted by the powerful vocals of Joanne Hogg, who also doubles on keyboards. The main-mover in the group seems to be multi-instrumentalist Dave Bainbridge, aided by David Fitzgerald on woodwinds. Nick Beggs and Terl Bryant handle bass and drums respectively. The first thirty-five minutes or so are extremely powerful, either driven by Joanne's vocals or by spirited group arrangements, as exemplified by the twelve minute "Matthew - The Man,” where the sax buildup near the end is stunning. "Revelation" and "Chi-Rho" are shorter vocal tracks structured in a more conventional folk-rock style, comparable to the best on Fairport's Unhalfbricking or Liege and Lief, but even these cut loose with full dynamic throttle as the songs build up. "Mark - The Lion" is a short but highly energized instrumental flight led by saxes and dual-guitar solos. After the sixth track "The River Flows," the album moves into a very low-key, almost new-age mode, with countless short instrumentals featuring mellow synth washes, pastel soprano sax and flute melodies, acoustic guitar dwiddling, and the complete absence of vocals. Had these been left off or trimmed, it would have made this an excellent 45 minute album. Fortunately, there are some bright moments scattered about in 'the quiet stretch': "The Arrest" is an electronic based vehicle for some fine electric guitar soloing. Finally, at about the 60 minute mark, the album reverts back to the high-energy folk-rock with vocals for the title track and the album closer. All taken, a very good album within the Celtic-progressive-folk-rock style, I think this is one that many would enjoy; I certainly do.


Filed under: New releases, Issue 4, 1992 releases

Related artist(s): Iona, Dave Bainbridge

Latest news

2019-08-20
Alex's Hand Seeks Spa Treatment – American / European band Alex's Hand has a new album in the works called Hungarian Spa, which looks to be their biggest and best yet, featuring a large roster of guest musicians. They're seeking funding to take the project on the road, and are looking for help from the crowd of wisdom. » Read more

2019-06-05
Legendary Co-Founder of The 13th Floor Elevators Passes Away at Age 71 – Sadly, Roky Erickson passed away on May 31, 2019. Known as the father of psychedelic music and co-founder of the ground breaking 13th Floor Elevators, Roky had a profound influence on music from the 60s to today. Plagued by his own personal demons, Roky had a difficult life and is now free of these burdens. » Read more

2019-04-24
Help MoonJune Bring Great Music to Life – Like many music lovers around the world, we’ve been thrilled and amazed to hear the recordings that have been released by MoonJune from sessions at La Casa Murada in Spain. Such label stalwarts as Mark Wingfield, Markus Reuter, Asaf Sirkis, Tony Levin, Dusan Jevtovic, Vasil Hadzimanov, and many more have gathered in various combinations at the studio to produce some of the most creative music in recent years. Now, label head Leonardo Pavkovic is offering a compilation, La Casa Murada - MoonJune Sessions, Volume One, as a fundraiser for upcoming sessions. » Read more

2019-04-10
The Pineapple Thief to Tour North America – November and December of 2019 will see The Pineapple Thief bringing their music to Canada, Mexico, and the US, and famed drummer Gavin Harrison will be on board. The band has been touring extensively in Europe, but North America will be new territory for them. » Read more

2019-03-25
Scott Walker RIP – Noel Scott Engel, better known as Scott Walker, was one of the most intriguing and enigmatic musical figures in the second half of the 20th Century. His strange career started with The Walker Brothers, an American pop group that featured no one named Walker and no brothers. After moving to England in 1965, they had a series of hit singles. Scott's solo work started with Scott in 1967. Starting in the 80s, his work took an increasingly avant-garde turn. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Naoki Ishida - Fazing Redust – Although one's initial reaction to this obviously low-budget recording (the hiss throughout is quite noticeable) of seemingly aimless sonic noodling might be rejection, the seven tracks herein do have...  (2008) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues