Exposé Online banner

Iona — The Circling Hour
(OPENVP11CD, 2006, CD)

by Paul Hightower, Published 2008-01-01

The Circling Hour Cover art

It’s been six years since Iona’s last album, Open Sky, and the good news is that everything the Anglo-Irish band had working so well for them hasn’t been forgotten. Some might even argue that The Circling Hour is an improvement over its predecessor, especially for those who thought Open Sky a bit too placid. Drummer Frank van Essen gets a healthy share of the arrangements this time, with each song anchored to or fortified by his percussion work (not to mention his surprising talent on violin). Dave Bainbridge’s guitars and keyboards take a more foundational role, handing most of the melodic leads to Joanna Hogg’s vocal or Troy Donnockley’s pipes and flutes. That doesn’t mean the album lacks fireworks, as seen on the spirited “Wind off the Lake” or the gorgeous “Sky Maps” where van Essen and bassist Phil Barker chew scenery with abandon. The album’s theme, “the gift of life,” isn’t necessarily Christian in nature as one might expect. Hogg spent much of the recent hiatus having two babies and one can see her channeling those experiences into the songs. In fact, Iona seems to be distancing themselves from their reputation as Celtic Christian spokespersons. I can’t imagine a protest song like “Factory of Magnificent Souls” appearing on The Book of Kells and it just goes to show how far Iona has traveled since the early days. In my opinion this is their best yet, and for those who’ve held back because of past religiousosity you now have no excuses.


Filed under: New releases, Issue 35, 2006 releases

Related artist(s): Iona, Dave Bainbridge

Latest news

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

2019-03-20
Freedom to Spend Unearths June Chikuma's Archives – Jun (June) Chikuma is well known for her video game and anime soundtracks, but she also released an album of experimental electronic music back in 1986 called Divertimento where she indulged the kind of spontaneity that wouldn't work in a soundtrack. RVNG Int'l label Freedom to Spend is bringing this overlooked item to broader attention with a deluxe reissue. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Garden Wall - Path of Dreams – After a rough, albeit promising debut, Principium, last year, I was surprised to find that this — Garden Wall's second album, delivers on most of those promises. For sure there are still some rough...  (1995) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues