Veil Of Gossamer's Box
image © Open Sky Records 2004

dave bainbridge

veil of gossamer

the sound of Iona with three featured artists
in-depth interview and album review

Review and HTML © Russell W. Elliot 2004
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Last updated: 13 June 2004

Rachel Jones
Rachel Jones
image © Chris Walkden 2003
  Mae McKenna
Mae McKenna
image © 1999
  Joanne Hogg
Joanne Hogg
image © Chris Walkden 2002

The last time we met up with Iona was at their October 2002 gig for the Classic Rock Society in Rotherham (review). We learned that after their brief tour the band would take another break while lead singer Joanne Hogg had time out with the birth of her second child. The break gave Dave Bainbridge and Troy Donockley time to tour as a duo and also for each of them, and others, to work on solo projects.

In the hours prior to the October 2002 concert, introductions between Karnataka's Ian and Rachel Jones and the Iona team were made and the foundation of their relationship began with an exchange of albums in further dialog after the concert that evening had concluded. We were everso pleased to learn only a few short months later that Rachel would provide vocals for Dave's solo project. A review of Karnataka's most recent album includes links to the many other Musical Discoveries project associated with the band. Rachel is a three-time winner of the Classic Rock Society's best female vocalist award. They were named a featured artist at Musical Discoveries 2001.

Some of the earliest reviews at Musical Discoveries are of albums by Mae McKenna. Our Nightfallers review and review of Mirage and Reality both date back to 1998-1999. Our review of Mae's most recent album Shore To Shore was published in 1999 and includes a full biographical sketch, current at that writing. Mae McKenna is one of Musical Discoveries longest standing featured artists.

  Dave Bainbridge
Dave Bainbridge
image © Open Sky Records 2004

Our reviews of Iona's work began with our very first concert review. It is a review their 1997 live performance in Southampton. Since that time we have reviewed Woven Cord, Open Sky and The River Flows box set. We have also reviewed additional recordings by Joanne Hogg (Looking Into Light and New Irish Hymns) and a recent live performance as noted above. Joanne is also a winner of the Classic Rock Society's best female vocalist award. Iona were named a Musical Discoveries featured artist in November 2002.

This article includes an in-depth interview with Dave Bainbridge that tells the story of his solo project Veil Of Gossamer in his own words and provides insight into the songwriting and selection of the various artists that have contributed to the project. We also review the album and provide information on how it can be obtained.


Musical Discoveries: When did you begin working on Veil of Gossamer?

Dave Bainbridge: After Joanne (Iona's singer) had told us that she was pregnant again, I knew there would be a long break for her from the band. So, after our last few gigs before her maternity leave, I started working on material for my album. That was around November / December 2002. In fact the first two weeks I spent going through hours and hours of demo tapes and some written music of ideas that I've had for pieces, but never completed.

I categorised them as possible Iona pieces, possible solo album pieces, possible material for other projects, etc, etc--a very productive time. Anyway, at the end of that process, I had quite a few bits which I wanted to use, and I then began the longer process of honing them down and also writing new material to form the whole lot into coherant pieces of music. In fact there are still a large number of solo ideas still unused which will go to forming the basis of a follow up.

How would you compare the sound and texture of the album to Iona's work?

Although this is my first 'solo' project, it feels very much like an extension to what I've done with Iona--a continuation of a body of work rather than something separate and divisive. Many of the sonic textures developed with the band over the years have formed the basis of the sounds and atmospheres created on this album. That's not to say it's just a rehash of ideas--I'm always looking for new settings in which to express my ideas--but I'm very clear on what emotions and spirit I want to convey.

Musically, I've been able to stretch out a bit more than on an Iona project--more guitar playing, with both electric and acoustic solo, and more piano. A bit more instrumental than Iona, but there are some great singers on there that I've used to create some quite unusual layered textures throughout the album. They are Joanne and Troy from Iona, Mae McKenna, Rachel Jones from Karnataka, Chris Hale from Aradhna (website). There are a lot of contrasts on the album ranging from acoustic passages through to full-on epic bits! There's also a melodic idea that crops up throughout the album in various forms which, along with the recurring vocal textures, gives the whole thing a sense of continuity.

What did you intend for the project when you began it?

Quite early on I came up with the title Veil of Gossamer, which was inspired by a poem/prayer by George McLeod . He was the man who in 1938 set about restoring the abbey on the island of Iona after centuries of neglect, and founded the present day Iona Community, which is a group of people that are bound by their faith and hunger for social justice. That helped me to focus my ideas, and shape the overall form of the album. If you look at the pieces as a whole, you will notice a certain symmetry. The album begins and ends with the main theme, sung in Gaelic by Mae McKenna. Then the centrepiece 'epic' on the album "The Everlasting Hills" is framed on either side by gentle acoustic guitar passages. Working outwards you get the more ambient tracks, then a couple of very exhuberant pieces. So I also had in mind this sort of overall shape. I tried to view the album as a complete piece of work and this helped me to choose which lyrics and songs would be appropriate. I wanted to create an album that would evoke a sense of mystery and also, most importantly, of hope.

Can you tell us a little bit more about what you had in mind?

Philosphically, the album explores the thin veil between this life and the next and the interconnections between the earthly and heavenly realms. What I'm exploring in the album is not so much the fragility of this life, rather, it is exploring the closeness, indeed the entwining of the heavenly realm with the earthly. The Celtic peoples of our islands who embraced the Christian faith from the 4th or 5th century onwards sought to see God's fingerprint in all of His creation. Just like the fantastic Celtic knotwork patterns that are so characteristic of their artwork, they saw God entwined in all aspects of their lives and of the Earth they saw around them.

There is an amazing book called the Carmina Gadelica, which records many ancient Celtic prayers, poems and incantations. These were collected together by Scotsman Alexander Carmichael on his many travels throughout the highlands and islands of Scotland in the 19th century. Many of these prayers concern the most mundane tasks--from dressing in the morning to milking the cows and setting the fire, through to prayers of protection whilst sleeping or out fishing on stormy seas. What comes through is a tremendous sense that these people had a very real and intimate relationship with their creator - God wasn't compartmentalised, but was invited into every part of their lives. Some of these very beautiful verses from the book are used as key lyrics on the album. To enhance the sense of timelessness and mystery I was hoping to create, I managed to track down the original Scottish Gaelic translations--which just sound so evocative to my ears. These are beautifully sung by Scottish singer Mae McKenna. For those listeners who don't know their ancient Scottish Gaelic, there are English translations in the sleeve notes!

Dave Bainbridge
Dave Bainbridge
image © Open Sky Records 2004

Were there other inspirations?

My other source of lyrical content is the writing of David Adam, whom I have know for a number of years. David is a very wise man, and very much a 'contemporary' Celtic poet and author who draws on the lives of the great Celtic Saints of the past for his inspiration. He has a wonderful way of communicating the possibilities that exist in a relationship with God that is not restricted by our own, often limited and clouded 21st century vision. His words which I used for the track 'Until the Tide Turns' are among the most beautiful and moving I have heard.

Much of the album, in particular the track "Star-Filled Skies," was conceived with an account in the back of my mind of a strange incident that is said to have occured one dark night on the high hills of Northumbria way back in the 7th century:

'Tending a fire on these hills, a 16-year old shepherd saw a strange sight in the sky far off towards Bamburgh and the Holy Island of Lindisfarne. As the flames and sparks of his fire rose into the night, the boy noticed something that looked like lights descending and ascending from the heavens. It was not the Northern Lights, for this was the wrong direction. He even wondered whether these were angels coming down to accompany a particularly beloved soul to heaven. The next day he learned of the death, at Bamburgh, of St Aidan--the much loved founding father of the monastery on Lindisfarne--at exactly that time. The boy shepherd was Cuthbert, who went on to become Aidanšs succesor as the spiritual father of his generation. This account was just one of many miraculous events in the life of St Cuthbert, which blurred the boundaries between our earthly realm, and that of Heaven.'

How did this story impact the album?

Although an account like this seems fantastical to our 21st century sense of logic, it perhaps also suggests that somewhere in the intervening 1400 years, what with society's pursuit of happiness and fulfillment through material things we have lost something of our perception of the spiritual and the mysterious.

As I was recording "Star-Filled Skies," I received several slides of amazing wall hangings by the internationally renowned textile artist Alice Kettle, who also happens to be my wife's best friend, for consideration for the album's cover artwork. Included in them was an amazing one with angels descending and ascending from the heavens playing musical instruments. Below them is what looks like a fire and sparks rising up! At the time Alice knew absolutely nothing of the story I was attempting to put into music! Needless to say, the picture is featured in the cd booklet, and in fact Alice's work is used throughout the booklet and on the cover. Really though it doesn't do her work justice--her hangings are, in real life, massive; some are up to about 12 feet high--well worth seeing if ever you get the chance--really fantastic blazes of colour.

How was your vision realised?

Starting from a blank page is the most difficult thing to do, so I gave myself several parameters to work to, to help the creative process along, such as:

I wanted to really experiment with unusual vocal textures, both with lyrics and wordless, and use these as a sort of thread throughout the album; I wanted lots of contrast on the album in terms of dynamics and mood; I wanted to write one lengthy piece, which would be a sort of lynch pin for the album; I had in my mind the kind of sound I wanted to achieve--a sort of extension of Iona, and as I didn't want the album to be purely instrumental, the way to do this seemed to be to use several vocalists; I love the sound of the Gaelic language when sung, and I wanted this to be a feature; I wanted to use one or two of the acoustic guitar pieces I've been working on over the past few years.

So what did you do to bring these things together?

After deciding on some of these things the writing in the main came together quite quickly and it was easier to choose the bits from my ideas tapes which fitted these parameters. In all cases where lyrics are used--apart from some of the improvised vocal textures, and Chris Hale's fantastic improvised Urdu vocal on "Star-Filled Skies"--I already had the melodies worked out and then set about finding lyrics to fit.

Tell us about the selection of the various vocalists and the various sung parts they provide.

I knew from the start that I'd love to have Jo singing on the album. We've worked together for ages now and I know her voice so well. Originally I was thinking just of wordless ethereal sort of vocal textures from Jo. I'd originally asked Tim Jarvis--Moya Brennan's husband--about Moya's availability to sing the track "Until the Tide Turns," but she was really busy at the time and couldn't do it. [Ed. Note: Browse our Two Horizons feature.] So Jo sang this one instead and captured the feeling of it so well that I couldn't imagine anyone else doing it now! You'd never know either, from her performance, that she was 8 month's pregnant at the time we did the album sessions at her home in Ireland!

And how about Mae McKenna?

I was also hoping that Moya would be able to sing the Gaelic passages on the album, as she's a native Irish Gaelic speaker. But when she wasn't available, I knew Mae was right for the job. Ironically we did a TV program with Iona back in 1994 and the producers were keen for the house band to join us on our two tracks--"Today" and "Treasure." The backing vocalists were Miriam Stockley and Mae! I'd worked with Miriam on one occasion previously at a festival when she sang backing vocals for Sheila Walsh, whose band I was in at the time. I'd never met Mae although I was actually a fan of her music. She introduced herself to us as Mae, but it wasn't until after the TV show when she wrote to us that I twigged that it was Mae McKenna! So when I contacted her about my album, after a couple of years of not being in touch, I was thrilled that she could do it.

Again, as with Jo, I couldn't now imagine a more appropriate voice for what turned out to be quite key moments on the album. In fact I loved what Mae did so much that I featured more of her vocals than I'd originally intended! She is fantastic to work with--years of session work have really honed her skills and she's really quick to learn things and come up with harmonies.

And Karnataka's Rachel Jones?

Rachel was the first vocalist who's contribution I recorded for the album, and quite early on, when most parts on the tracks were just rough guides, and indeed before some of the tracks were completely written! I'd met Rachel and her husband Ian, from Karnataka, at an Iona concert for the Classic Rock Society in November 2002, and at which a certain Mr Elliot was in attendance! We swapped albums and kept in touch after that. I was very impressed with her voice on the recording I heard and especially liked some of the unusual turns of phrase that she would come out with. So I was really excited whe she agreed to sing on the album.

When we recorded her vocals I already knew Jo was singing on the album and was just waiting for a response from Mae, and had an intuitive feeling that their voices would blend really well. Rachel's voice is very distinctive and there's a nice edge to it that Jo and Mae's voices don't have. The bits where the three voices are heard together are some of the most spine tingling parts of the album I think--such as the big vocal harmonies on "Over the Waters"; the beautiful textures on "The Everlasting Hills - Part 1," where Rachel's whispered words are really moving; and the vocal crescendo at the end of "Star-Filed Skies - Part 3." Rachel came up with several lovely melodic lines that I was able to incorporate into the fabric of the music and feature, with the other vocalists adding further parts later.

So how did you bring all of the vocals together?

Interestingly the three female vocalists never actually met. In fact their parts were recorded seperately and indeed in different countries--Ireland, England and Wales respectively! I spent a long time editing and layering their parts to achieve some of the unusual vocal textures on the album. I think it was certainly worth it!

So how about Chris Hale then?

Chris is a very interesting guy whom I'd met on a couple of occasions when his band Ahadhna had supported Iona and later Troy and Dave. His parents were American missionaries and Chris was born and brought up in Nepal and India. He speaks and sings fluent Erdu and has a very strong, emotive voice and is also an amazing sitar player. It was very late in the recording of the album that I decided that the last track "Star-Filled Skies" needed a human voice towards the end to really bring the track to a climax; after all, this was the part of the track that was to represent St Aidan's soul ascending up to heaven. I knew immediately that it should be a male voice and that Chris the man for the job. However, Chris lived at the time in New York and had a very heavy touring schedule and although he was keen to sing on the album it looked as though there were just no gaps in his diary and I needed to have the album finished within a few weeks as mixing dates were already booked in.

After a bit of pleading on my part, Chris managed to find one free evening, on which he went into a local studio in Astoria, NY and improvised along to the backing track which I'd sent over. Within a few days I had a cd back with about 10 different takes--all of which sounded great--despite the fact that Chris had been suffering from a bad cold at the time! I edited together the best bits and the vocal is a real hairs on the back of the neck moment. Chris sung in Urdu, and one phrase he improvised translates as 'Ocean of Mercy' which is a name for Christ in the Indian context. Chris knew nothing of the titles of the other tracks, such as "Chanting Waves," "Over the Waters," Seahouses" and "Until the Tide Turns," all of which draw upon the same kind of oceanic imagery!

And how did the other musicians, especially Troy, Frank, Tim and Peter contribute?

My 'Northern mate' Troy Donockley from Iona just had to be on the recording, bringing his unique soundworld of Uilleann Pipes, Low and Tin Whistles as well as some nice vocal touches. His voice blended really well with the ladies, especially on "The Everlasting Hills."

Frank van Essen from Iona was someone else whom I knew would be a key element in the soundscape. It's still hard to believe that someone who can lay down such a fearsome drum track as the one on "The Homeward Race" can be the same person playing the amazing violin textures on "Star-Filled Skies (Part 3)." I mean--how??!

Tim Harries, who's played with Iona, Bill Bruford, Steeleye Span, Steve Howe, Eddi Reader, June Tabor, the LSO to name but a few, came up near the end of the recording process to add some scintilating bass. I've known Tim since he was studying music at University many years ago and he's really quick to understand what the best approach is on any given track. He always comes up with some unexpected melodic and rhythmic touches as well, which is rare in a bass player.

And the others?

Pete Fairclough was a contemporary of mine at Leeds College of Music and played drums in a band we had together called 'Plan B'. After not being in touch for a number of years, we renewed our friendship in 2000 and I thought his unusual approach to percussion instruments would really compliment Frank's kit playing. Pete has made a name for himself as a well respected and innovative free jazz improviser with the like of Keith Tippett and The Mike Westbrook Orchestra. We had fun recording some of his very unusual looking handmade gongs and cymbals in his tiny attic room, whilst I was set up with my recording gear in a very small adjoining bathroom--sitting on the toilet!

Peter Whitfield is great at creating nice ensemble string sounds by layering track upon track on his various violins and viola and has featured on several Iona tracks in the past. I did begin to worry about him when we were recording his parts on Iona's Beyond these Shores album. He insisted on having lots of seats set up in the studio and playing each part from a different seat. He said it would make the stereo image sound more realistic--which was fine, but I though he was taking it a bit far when he asked for 14 cups of coffee!

William Scofield plays cello with the acclaimed Emperor String Quartet, and is very open to playing all styles of music. I remember Joanne and I being bowled over by the quartet's playing on Troy's first solo album and Jo insisting that we get them on her 'Looking into Light' album. I worked with the quartet again on a soundtrack for a short film a couple of years ago and thought that Will's playing would be another element that would steer the sound away from the 'Iona sound' and add a unique and passionate texture, which it certainly does.

Nick Beggs who's played with Iona, Steve Howe, Steve Hackett, Ellis, Beggs and Howard, John Paul Jones, Belinda Carlisle, Tina Turner and many others played bass on three tracks. The highlight has been his sensitive fretless playing on "Until the Tide Turns." Nick sent his contribution through the post and my only regret is that we didn't have time to actually get together and record some Chapman Stick--at which he is a master--on the album. So maybe that's something for the follow up!

And you did a bunch as well, didn't you?

I think I played about 15 instruments altogether--with, in addition to piano, various guitars and keys, bouzouki, mandolin, autoharp, small harp, balafon and various small percussion bits and pieces. My first idea was to play all the instruments I could possibly get hold of on the album, including whistles, other percussion oddments, harmonium, children's toys--anything really--a real solo album, a la Mike Oldfield. But then I thought that was a bit melamaniacal, so went the other way and I recruited as many musicians as I could, thinking more about how to make the music work rather than my ego! I did enjoy playing some of the percussion parts though and would like to do more of that. In fact my first real instrument, when I was five was a bass drum, passed on by some relative--it mysteriously disappeared one day!

Can you tell our visitors the fascinating story of the recording process?

I've been recording stuff at home for a number of years now, and most of the album was recorded by me either here or on location with my gear, thanks to Nigel Palmer here for his invaluable advice on microphone placement!. The biggest exception was Frank's contribution, which he recorded at his home studio in Holland. I sent over rough mixes and lots of notes--not of the monetary kind--thanks Frank! And he sent back his drum and violin parts. The advantage of working this way with someone whose playing I know and respect so much is that I can trust him to come up with great and complimentary parts, which he did.

For mixing, I transferred most of the tracks from my Roland VS2480 24-track machine to Calum Malcolm's 48-track digital machine at his home studio with my keyboard modules playing their parts 'live' from my 15-year old Atari computer via his vintage Neve desk. It was great to have Calum's input at this stage as mixing can be very subjective and a fresh pair of ears can work wonders. Calum is a great engineer whom I have hugh respect for and he did a great job on some of the complex mixes.

At this stage there was some last minute re-recording on the track "Over the Waters," which helped bring it more into focus and make the changes from section to section much more dramatic. I re-recorded some lines of the end guitar solo the night before mixing, in my hotel room in Scotland overlooking the North Sea. Now that wouldn't have been possible technologically only a few years back!

Which are some of your favourite tracks and why?

There isn't a track on the album I'm not happy with, although there are always things that I know could have sounded better. But there comes a stage where you just have to let go and say, "that's it," particularly when there are time and budgetary constraints. There are so many moods that it's difficult to choose really. I love the exhuberance of "Over the Waters," which is a great one to listen to in the car. "The Everlasting Hills Part 1 & Part 2" have some moments that I'm really proud of , particularly the vocal sections and some of the guitar playing, and I love it when Frank's drums come in on "Part 5." "Star-Filled Skies" is a real journey and the opening of "Part 3" with Frank's violins and Will's cello is really beautiful. Chris's sublime vocal on "Star-Filled Skies Part 4" is also a highlight. I must say that without all the other fantastic musicians, the album couldn't have happened.

Do you think you'll play any of this material live, perhaps with the Iona lineup?

Yes I hope to play some tracks--the less epic ones!--live in the duo format with Troy and also with Iona later in the year. I've had one offer to do a Veil of Gossamer gig in my own right at a festival in Holland, but sadly there isn't enough budget to cover getting a whole band over there, so I'll have to think about whether there's another way to make it work.

How has the response been to the album so far?

Fantastic! It's very early days--most promo copies have yet to be posted and Voiceprint's official release date is in July, although we have copies for sale now on the Iona website So it will be interesting to see how it develops. The main thing though is that I'm really pleased with it--and my mam likes it too!

And what are Iona's plans for 2004 and beyond?

Well, Joanne our singer has had the joy of having two children over the past two years or so, so we've had to adapt our plans somewhat to fit around that. Jo has not wanted to tour, except for the occasional gig, and has found it hard to concentrate on or find time for writing. We have a load of quite promising ideas already recorded, but will need to spend time this year working with Jo to get a few new vocal songs together. Frank and I are heading off to Jo's in Ireland in July to that end. The logistics are quite tricky for us to get together, with band members living as far afield as Holland, Ireland and Northern and Southern England!

Troy and I live quite near each other, so we tend to get together a lot for writing. In fact we've been doing a few gigs as a duo whilst the band has been dormant and are to release a duo album later in the year--sort of half live recordings and half in the studio--quite an uncomplicated affair for once! In fact we've been playing two pieces live that will probably be on the next Iona album. A new band studio recording is now certainly becoming a focus for us and I'm really looking forward to getting stuck into it soon.

We had started planning a concert in London that was to be filmed for a DVD when Jo became pregnant for the second time--so that had to be shelved--but it's something that we want to do in the near future. The live Iona experience has always been something specia, which is why we've released two live albums. Our first band gigs since November 2002 will be happening in Europe in September and December and Troy and I are off to Japan for a few duo concerts in December--readers should look for more info on the Iona website--so there's a lot to look forward to there.

Is there anything else you'd like to tell our visitors in concluding the interview?

All our albums can be bought directly from our website ( and selected ones can be ordered at record shops in the US where we are distributed by Navarre or via the Navarre website ( or by mail order in the US by phoning this toll-free number 1-800-567-9185.


Dave's interview above does a fantastic job at setting the stage for what listeners should expect on Veil Of Gossamer (Open Sky (UK) OPENVP4CD, 2004). It's a long album with nine main titles but sixteen individual tracks. The two epics, "The Everlasting Hills," and "Star-Filled Skies" are multi-part suites. The similarity to Iona's albums is positively delightful. There is lots of melody and tremendous musicianship, but it's cinematic and textural, with vast tempo changes within the pieces and certainly across the tracks. With the material primarily written by Dave and performed by musicians that are either part of the current lineup or have had an association with the group so listeners mustn't expect otherwise.

But that said, the music is certainly more orchestral--with violin washes and interwoven piano melodies--and very instrumental. The lush arrangements and robust instrumentation build towards the center of the album and move away on either side as Dave suggested in our interview. The album does begin with Mae McKenna's Gaelic vocal in "Chanting Waves," which becomes a thread, as much as the wordless vocals by Rachel Jones and Joanne Hogg, that binds together much of the material on the album. And the sounds of the three female singers are indeed different enough that each can be individually heard as the tracks progress.

The characteristic Iona sound is evident from the powerful epic "Over The Waters," featuring Rachel Jones' vocals that follows the opening number. Whispy string-based instrumental arrangements and longing whistle excursions are first introduced in the album's title track which as we hear again later builds in splendour to a denser arrangement. Dave's first acoustic guitar track is "The Seen and the Unseen," a perfect bookend to "Seahouses."

Dense vocal washes return in "The Everlasting Hills" and the album's lyrical content--by Mae, Jo and Rachel this time--emerges once again. The five-part suite superbly marries vocal and instrumental arrangements with recurring themes. Dave's complex piano solo in "Part 4" is as notable as the tempo change, power shift and progressive sounds that emerge with vast guitar excursions and upbeat Celtic tinges in the Iona-styled passage "Part 5" before gently closing the piece.

Musical themes are introduced in the first half of the album that recur as the material continues to develop and surround the listener. They pass between the various instruments--acoustic guitar, mandolin, piano, and so on--eventually finding their way to powerful guitar solos and keyboard washes. Vocals are expressive and sensually performed. The album is a progressive project with a classical edge--not classical in the sense of Bach and Classic FM, but classical in the sense of structure--with melody as well as artistic virtuousity. And it's struck a perfect balance between instrumental and vocal with neither dominating the sound.

"Seahouses" is to acoustic guitar what "Part 4" was to piano, returning to the sound of "The Seen and the Unseen." Certainly demonstrative of Dave's talent, he writes, "I began writing this piece whilst on holiday in Seahouses, on the north-east coast of England at the end of August 1997, in a memorable week that saw the passing of three icons of the age - Princess Diana, Mother Theresa and the great conductor Sir Georg Solti." And as if perfectly married to the number before it, Jo's vocals joins Troy's Uilleann pipes and whistles in the gentle beginning ballad "Until The Tide Turns." With Frank van Essen on drums and violin, Nick Beggs on bass and Dave playing everything else, this track--which develops in full instrumental splendour before its conclusion--is indeed very Iona-styled. The upbeat and progressive instrumental "The Homeward Race" continues in a similar vein.

The album concludes with the four-part epic "Star-Filled Skies," which opens with the return of Mae's Gaelic vocals. Additional vocal layers by Jo and Rachel provide texture atop the gentle arrangement in "Part 1." The cinematic textures of the suite include the rousing progressive Celtic "Part 2," a much slower string-, woodwind- and atmospherically-laced "Part 3" with its wispy vocals. With Chris Hale's improvised vocal joining mix, the piece builds instrumentally in "Part 4" before coming to a dramatic conclusion repeating the theme of the opening number.

This long-awaited solo project by Dave Bainbridge was certainly worth the wait, despite our impatience for new material from the outstanding artists involved in the project. Since the last Iona album of new material--Open Sky--was released in 2000, the band have produced a retrospective box set in 2002 and Dave released the 2xCD Songs For Luca (review) various artist compilation that includes some previously unreleased Iona and related artist material. Veil Of Gossamer is a tremendous album that will delight enthusiasts of Iona's music and it serves as a perfect bridge to their next studio album which we will patiently await!--Russ Elliot in New York

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