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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Dave Bainbridge

Veil of Gossamer

Review by Gary Hill

Dave Bainbridge may not be a household name, even in the progressive rock world, but after listening to this CD, I think he should be. He has created with Veil of Gossamer one of the finest prog releases of the year. This one is a "must have" for fans of the genre, especially if you also enjoy new age and Celtic music. Bainbridge is better known as one of the cofounders of the band Iona, and has been with that group since their formation in 1989, serving as performer, co-writer and producer of all eight of their albums. Dave has also worked with such diverse artists as Buddy Guy, Gloria Gaynor, Phil Keaggy, and Michael Ball and as a producer with Maire Brennan of Clannad and Robert Fripp.

Veil of Gossamer combines the Celtic sounds of Clannad and Enya with new age elements, fusion and full on prog rock. This is not the type of stuff that will get up and bouncing around, but rather the type of music that you sit back and listen to, catching your breath and relaxing from the day's troubles. It is a concept album based on an event in the life of Saint Cuthbert. Although Bainbridge personally plays 15 or so instruments on the album, he is joined by several other artists including fellow Iona member Joanne Hogg and Rachel Jones of Karnataka. This disc will certainly find its way on to my best of 2004 list. More info on Bainbridge, this release and Iona is available at Iona's website,

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2004 Year Book Volume 1 at

Track by Track Review
Chanting Waves
A great Celtic mode based in very traditional elements, a bit lie Enya or Clannad starts this. As it carries on ambient electronic prog styles emerge and begin to grow.
Over the Waters
This one bursts in with a more fully prog oriented arrangement and some very tasteful guitar riffing emerges on top. The piece has an odd slightly off-kilter rhythmic patter. This feels like a more prog rock oriented Joe Satriani. It is quite a potent number and features some non-lyrical vocal. This turns into quite a stomping prog track later. This is very dynamic, making a good number of changes throughout the course.
Veil of Gossamer
With a more organic acoustic texture, feeling much more sedate than the previous piece, as this carries forward a rather new ageish texture takes it. Then other instruments join to pull the melody line out. This is quiet, but still powerful. It gets more energized and electric later, before dropping back to almost pure atmosphere. This is another highly dynamic number encompassing a lot of changes and textures. It is a very pretty one.
The Seen and the Unseen
Nature sounds start this, then an intricate acoustic guitar line enters. This brief cut ends with more elements of nature.
The Everlasting Hills Part One
A haunting violin begins this, playing somewhat mournfully, then a fusion styles electric guitar pattern joins in, as keys begin to wash over, the entire affair takes on an awesomely powerful prog rock texture. The guitar soars of ver top of this, getting a bit noisy at time. This one suffers just a little from becoming slightly noodly.
The Everlasting Hills Part Two
The more mellow and traditional Celtic tones emerge again here in the second vocal number of the disc. This one again feels a bit like Clannad or Enya. A whispered spoken voice and pipes comes over top as the central line moves to the background. This is a very powerful effect of layering of textures to create a haunting piece.
The Everlasting Hills Part Three
A more straightforward, but still quite traditional acoustic based jam forms the basis of this. It is another that features non-lyrical voices, and as it carries on it turns heavier, the electric guitar screaming over top. The jam emerges in a very natural progression, yet seriously builds in power and intensity before eventually moving back to the opening styles, but with more oomph given to them. After a time keys take this, moving it slowly into new realms. The band tentatively flirts with a more energetic progression, but it ends before making that a reality.
The Everlasting Hills Part Four
This acoustic piano solo, which gets a bit dissonant at times leads straight into the next piece.
The Everlasting Hills Part Five
A fast paced, triumphant sounding hard edged prog jam, this one just explodes out, and the musicians begin weaving new waves of sound with every change up. This another fusion oriented piece, and a very strong one at that. It drops down to atmospheric keys and piano, then work through for while in that mode before ending.
This acoustic guitar solo is very expressive and poignant. I have to says that I am not sure if the play on the word "Seahorses" is intentional, but either way, looking at this title that's what comes to mind, and the alteration makes me smile. That's a good thing.
Until the Tide Turns
Atmospheric tones begin this one, and the lead vocals enter turning it into a pretty piano and voice ballad. This one is powerful and rather lush. As it carries forward, traditional Celtic instruments join in, weaving their musical tale for an interlude. They move away before the next verses. After a time, this burst out into a full on prog take on the main themes becoming very powerful.
The Homeward Race
Another fusionish jam, this one is quite fast paced. It really rocks out quite hard throughout the course of its musical explorations, but eventually drops back down to end.
Star-Filled Skies Part One
Another more traditional Celtic sound piece, this one stars with textural tones and vocals. As it carries forward fast paced acoustic guitar takes it. This is a great Enya like pieced that becomes quite lush and intricate. It moves directly into the next segment.
Star-Filled Skies Part Two
A quick shift to a traditional Celtic jam takes the composition and the group begin building a killer prog structure from there. This is another that rocks out rather well, while still maintaining strong prog and traditional Celtic leanings. This crescendos to make way for the next piece.
Star-Filled Skies Part Three
This is a sedate and textural number based on strings It does manage to get quite involved for a time before dropping down to traditional flute sounds. This plays for a time before the atmospheric sounds and gentle vocals return. As this crescendos, it moves directly to the next number.
Star-Filled Skies Part Four
A triumphant fusion jam, this is another that rocks out. Coming across a bit like more heavy jazz Alan Parsons at times, this eventually works into a powerful excursion, then drops back to the nearly unaccompanied Celtic vocals to end. It makes for a very cool conclusion to an unusual and quite entertaining album.
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