Bio Iona
Solo & Sessions

Review of Circeling Hour.

Joanna Hogg at the Spirit of 66 November 2006.
Picture by Jean-Luc Cruwels.

This Celtic based band had made some several fine releases since their day of birth in 1990. But the last album, called “Open Sky” is from 6 years ago. The album got great reviews and tags like Celtic, Prog, Rock and Ambient. This new release will definitely not get a tag like ambient but it’s more Proggy & Rockier as before. A fantastic DVD has see the daylight earlier this year and is certainly considered the budget an absolute masterpiece what is competitive with the other 2 highlights of this year: Pulse & Deadwing. Enough talks we’ve waited long enough:

Emperyan Dawn 7:49
Joanna beautiful voice opens "The Circling Hour" with a mystical inspiring poem. What a warm welcome. Keyboards joining in slowly. Crescendo, the whole band kicks in, with leading roles for the great man from Amsterdam; Frank van Essen on drums & Troy with his remarkable sound. This is the spirit of Iona; full layers with a Celtic touch and when a counter point is reached that amazing voice of Joanna makes you shiver from excitement. She sings and speak out the lyrics on as where they and ancient mantra. A great opener indeed.

Children Of Time 5:33
The lyrics are adopted from a poem written by T.W.Rolleston (1913 / the song Of Maelduin). A song with a great riff accomplished by Phil & Frank.

Strength 5:59
I've heard that song before because they did it live on several occasions. one of the highlights of this album. Great vocals, hypnotizing theme, soaring guitars and again those two great men on bass and percussion, a good lyric concept as well. The lyrics are from Joanna and reflects a personal time of her life.

Troy, Joanna & David.
Pictures by Jean-Luc Cruwels.

Wind Of The Lake 11:02
An almost traditional instrumental track of 11 minutes, with just 1 opening line from Troy and just 4 lines of Joannas magical voice (I thought Troy was the wizard). Celtic themes, pipes that invites you to stand up and dance and be happy. This kind of songs I'm used to hear from Mostly autumn (when Troy is on board). This one Rocks and has a great slide solo of Troy and another great guitar solo of Dave. And at the end of the song he really gets lost in fantastic play.

Factory Of Magnificent Souls 5:02
Last year November I was touched when i heard this song for the first time in my life, at the famous Spirit of 66. Maybe the words were causing this fantastic feeling too. Now when I read the lyrics and try to understand the concept even more and it all get deeper meanings. It’s the story of Nelson Mandela and his fellow prisoners on Robben Island. From the start to the end it grabbed me, and it still does grab me. A wonderful clean production with the warmth of their live sound. Great chorus breaks from a heavenly voice, some splendid guitar play in contrast with Troy’s tin whistles.

Pictures by Jean-Luc Cruwels.

Sky Maps 6:39
Apparently the only song that was written by only one band member, Troy to be more specific. With a few lines of retrospective thoughts in the middle section a quite slow break gives Joanna the opportunity the mutter the lyrics. Frank joins in on violin and does that on a most outstanding way. The great guitar solo is of Troy hands too.


No Fear in Love 5:59
Strong keyboards layers and again the Dutch man with some extravaganza on miscellaneous percussion instruments. Dave lays down some nice guitar chords and solo's and t my surprise no Ullian Pipes. Troy is doing some back ground vocals.

Wind Water & Fire - Wind 3:30 / Water 3:00 / Fire 7:14
This is the main theme of the album, and the song was called The Circling Hour. An epos, violins, Ullian Pipes, whistles, guitars, a range of percussion instruments (Bodran and more), hammond, keyboards, piano and that Voice. All with a Celtic layer and heavy Prog underlayment. Excellent. Apperently the wind is Franks violin, water is Joanas vocal choir with some dropping by Phil and the whole bands sets the song in Fire. Troy and Dave in a constant fight with Ulliean Pipes and guitar and on level lower you hear the rolling bass of Phil, marvellous. The play of the guitar did me remind on Mike Oldields play. Really wonderful. And when the songs climbs to a climax it has some likeness of the all layers that are used in Trubular Bells, awesome. Then a quite interval and Dave again on guitar with a totally different staccato style.

Fragment Of A Fiery Sun 2:45
The last song with addition vocal of the lovely Heather Findlay (Mostly Autumn), what can go wrong with her on board?

This album is their best album too date. The songs became a highlight of rocking Celtic Prog songs, with one of the most beautiful voice I know. When Joanna starts to sings and open her mouth it seems that her soul comes out and that you feel the aeon of beauty ness taking over your dayly worries. Excellent guitar play, extraordinary Uillean Pipes, an absolute fabulous rhythm section and virtuous violin play. All the 5 band members are highly skilled musicians and they work together as if they all feel the same about this music, they all want to go on only one direction. And that direction has made this album to one of the best releases of 2006.

Nick from the lovely South of the Netherlands.

Picture by Jean-Luc Cruwels.


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Here you can find an interview with
Troy Donockley and
Dave Bainbridge.


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Updated 26-10-06 by Nick.
Shine On!