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(58 min, 'Open Sky')
TRACK LIST: 1. The Great Silkie Of Sules Skerry 7:02 2. Trip To Athlone/The Handsome Young Maidens 3:28 3. When Worlds Collide 5:22 4. Greenfields Of Canada 4:40 5. Edge Of The World 5:56 6. Bi-Se I Mo Shuil-I 8:53 7. Unconscious 4:43 8. Conscious 5:23 9. The Blacksmith/Banish Misfortune/Merrily Kiss The Quaker 6:18 10. Tunnels 7:29 LINEUP: Dave Bainbridge - el. & ac. guitars, bouzouki; keyboards; programming Troy Donockley - Uilleann pipes, whistles; bouzouki, ac. guitar; vocals
Prolusion. Best known for their work with Iona, Troy DONOCKLEY and Dave BAINBRIDGE have been working together for 15 years or so. During a break for Iona, the two have produced two albums and made a number of live performances. "When Worlds Collide" is their second release, which follows the ambient live recording "From Silence", and contains both live and studio recordings. Donockley has 2 solo releases, "The Unseen Stream" and "The Pursuit of Illusion". Bainbridge has also released a solo album, "Veil of Gossamer".
Analysis. The set begins with The Great Silkie of Sules Skerry, a ballad from the Shetland Isles, given a much more atmospheric environment than one would imagine it had in its original form. (Silkie, or Selkie as it is also spelled, is a mythical creature, which is sometimes found in the form of man and sometimes the form of seal.) One of the things I like about this album, as well as "The Pursuit of Illusion", is getting to hear the Troy's voice, which is very pleasant and well suited to the music. Trip To Athlone / The Handsome Young Maidens are very nice traditional folk guitar duets, which remind me of John Renbourn. When Worlds Collide is another vocal centric song, a bit of light rock with Troy's vocals backed by himself and Dave on acoustic guitars. Uillean pipes are central to most of Greenfields of Canada, with atmospheric keys. This track segues into Edge of the World, from Iona's "Beyond These Shores". The mood is very soothing, almost dreamy, sounding a bit like Iona unplugged. Bi-Se I Mo Shuil - Part I comes from Iona's "Journey Into the Morn" album, transformed from a song sung in Gaelic, to an acoustic guitar solo, several times the length of the original, full of improvisation. After the melody has been established sans accompaniment, loops are built and layered, creating what is to be the backing instrumentation for the improvisation, in much the way guitarist Phil Keaggy does when playing in concert. The effect is quite pleasant and effective. Unconscious is a piano solo improvisation, which might be likened to a blending of Keith Jarrett and Keith Emerson. Conscious is culled from Troy's "Pursuit of Illusion" album. It is one of the richest tracks in terms of texture and fullness of palette. It begins with low whistle in the foreground and rather ethereal "voices" in the background. Piano comes to the fore and plays tag with the whistle for the lead until the guitar joins in. This is the most kaleidoscopic of the album; musically taking many twists and turns. This is the one that will be most pleasing for those looking for the progressive element, the tour de force of the CD. The Blacksmith / Banish Misfortune / Merrily Kiss The Quaker occupies the penultimate track, returning to traditional pieces played as guitar duets, beautifully played, by the way. Tunnels completes the set, taken from Troy's first solo album, "Unseen Stream" . It is rather ambient throughout the opening sequences, with something of an ethnic/world-beat percussion entering along with the Uillean pipes, which alternate with non-verbal vocals. It is a very rhythmic piece of music and well enjoyed by the crowd, judging from the round of applause. Unless I neglected to mention it, a good portion of the album was recorded live.
Conclusion. I find "When Worlds Collide" a very enjoyable album and would recommend it to those who are fans of Iona and the duo's other works. It is more prog tinged than hardcore prog, so if you are not interested in traditional music of the British Isles, or hearing it woven into a more contemporary sound, this might not be your cup of tea. However, if you enjoy the likes of Mike Oldfield, John Renbourn & Pentangle, this would fit nicely into your collection. Though mostly acoustic, there is also a fine blending of synths and electric guitar. It is a very low key and gentle music for the most part, never raucous or reckless, definitely relaxing and restful overall, though it is also occasionally exhilarating in their more energetic tunes, such as the finale.
KW: October 6, 2006
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