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Dave Bainbridge (UK) - 2004 - "Veil of Gossamer"
TRACK LIST: 1. Chanting Waves 2:17 2. Over the Waters 7:29 3. Veil of Gossamer 4:56 4. The Seen & the Unseen 2:17 The Everlasting Flight: 5. Part I 5:37 6. Part II 2:34 7. Part III 3:55 8. Part IV 2:54 9. Part V 4:47 10. Seahouses 3:06 11. Until the Tide Turns 4:30 12. The Homeward Race 5:26 Star-filled Skies: 13. Part I 3:40 14. Part II 2:40 15. Part III 3:47 16. Part IV 4:42 All music: by Bainbridge. Produced & engineered by Bainbridge. LINE-UP: Dave Bainbridge (Iona) - - electric & acoustic guitars, mandolin, bouzouki; - synthesizers & piano; harps; assorted percussion Frank Van Essen (Iona) - drums & percussion; violin Troy Donockley (Iona) - pipes & whistles Tim Harries (Iona) - bass Nick Beggs (Iona) - bass Joanne Hogg (Iona) - vocals Mae McKenna (Camel) - vocals Pete Fairclough (Keith Tippet) - percussion Peter Whitfield (The Christians) - violin William Scofield (Emperor SQ) - cello Rachel Jones (Karnataka) - voice Chris Hale - voice
Prolusion. One of the founders of Iona, which has existed since the early '90s, Dave BAINBRIDGE above all is known as guitarist and major songwriter for this English band. With the release of "Veil of Gossamer", Dave took his first step on a solo path. Nevertheless, most if not all of his Iona colleagues participate on the album. As usual, I have copied the lineup from the CD booklet and placed it above the review. I believe this is better than listing musicians within the review itself, the principal destination of which I see as describing music.
Synopsis. The intro to the album Chanting Waves and the outro, which, instead of being placed on a separate track, is part of Star-filled Skies-IV, sound much like those of Camel's "Harbour of Tears". It's due to the use of similar instrumentation with slow and soft interplay between a few chamber instruments with violin taking the lead in most cases and the vocals of Mae McKenna, who was the only female singer on the said album. Flavored by colors of the music widespread in the Far Eastern region, her singing is highly distinctive, and in that way, it rather strongly influences everything it touches. The other three songs with Mae on lead vocals: The Everlasting Flight-II and Parts I and III of another semi-concept piece Star-filled Skies are with "un-English" lyrics too, and the music is also a good symphonic Ambient much in the vein of the compositions I mentioned first. All the same definitions, etc, are applicable to the album's title track where there are, though, only vocalizations, as well as on many of the remaining tracks, and no features that would arouse associations with other musical works. Besides, I can say that all the further contents of the album just shine with originality. Still, it is not time to say goodbye to ambient symphonic romanticism with refined melodies, as it dominates on the first half of the remaining song Until the Tide Turns (the only with English lyrics) and is at the heart of Parts I and III of The Everlasting Flight. Here, however, these are electric guitar solos that come to the fore of the arrangements more often than those of the other instruments: pipes, piano, harp and acoustic guitar in this very case. The most intensive and intricate musical events develop on Over the Waters, The Everlasting Flight-V, The Homeward Race, and Star-filled Skies' parts II & IV (save the very end of the latter, which I had to describe before) with contrasting, fantastically virtuosi guitar solos crossing the length and breadth of the parts of the other instruments that are highly diverse as well. These are entities of excellent chamber symphonic Art-Rock, though the fourth of them has English folk music in its basis. Well, there are still little changes of tempo, which, however, is a merit rather than flaw in the case of this album, as the arrangements are ever changing - like those in the works of Classical music or most profound manifestations of Progressive Rock. The remaining four compositions are also brilliant. There are only passages and solos of acoustic guitar on The Seen & the Unseen and Seahouses (4 & 10), both of which are highly intricate and eclectic. The Everlasting Flight-IV is the pearl of piano Classical music. Finally, Star-filled Skies-III is a concerto of Classical academic music for violin, violoncello, whistle and orchestral cymbals. All these are probably the most enthralling acoustic works I've heard this year.
Conclusion. Indeed, not only the presence of varied chamber and similar acoustic instruments characterizes the classical-like essence of Dave Bainbridge's solo effort. As mentioned, most of the arrangements develop constantly. They are nearly not as light as the veil of gossamer, but are both beautiful and intricate like a perfectly weaved web. So the album will be growing on you with repeated listens, you may be sure! Great job by all means, and there is no question about its masterwork status.
VM: September 15, 2004
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