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Songs for Luca 2
Artist: Various
Label: Open Sky 
30 tracks (2 Hours, 20 mins) 
 
When this disc first hits the player you can tell that you're in for something special as Moya Brennan's floating, Gaelic vocal and resonant harp set a peaceful, airy tone. Then Dave Beegle's beautiful flamenco broadens the scope, while keeping the atmosphere.
 
There is – not surprisingly – plenty of Celtic ambience to this compilation, almost half of it involving Iona personnel. Dave Bainbridge and his wife Debbie have some pieces to themselves or collaborate with artists such as Phil Keaggy, while Nick Beggs features Chapman stick and Joanne Hogg sings from her solo work.
 
Apart from this disc's musical quality, there is an evident care in the way that this project has been sequenced. A new version of Iona's “Journey into the Morn” (with guests including Nick Beggs and members of The Flower Kings and Mostly Autumn) leads into a Donockley / Bainbridge piece, which itself passes from Celtic ambience to a live reel. 
 
Occasionally, between sections, come acoustic vocal pieces, such as Martyn Joseph's “Strange Kind of Friend” or Richard John Thompson's “Excuses to Fall”. These keep the discs from becoming a series of soundscapes.
 
This release also works well as a sampler. How else would you get to hear of a Japanese trio called Tenko, who play a six minute piece that clearly owes its existence to Camel? Or what about Keith Baker's solo instrumental, featuring dulcimer? Or Aradhna's exotic sitar and tablas, which would get Sergeant Pepper highly excited? 
 
While there are too many tracks to mention all, Chasing the Monsoon's “Circles of Stone” must be picked out. Anyone who loves bands from Annie Haslam's Renaissance to Note For A Child will love this, with its sun-bathed washes and Lisa Fury's delectable delivery of a gorgeous and natural melody. 
 
For careful compilation, quality music and excellent value (the first disc alone would be worth the price) this has to be worth serious consideration. Add to this that the proceeds go to supporting the Bainbridge's autistic son Luca continue with the successful treatment programme and the decision is a no-brainer for anyone who loves intelligent, beautiful, atmospheric music.
 
Derek Walker

(comfortably)       
 
 
 

 
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