The Unseen Stream
Artist: Troy Donockley
Label: Alliance Music (UK)
Time: 8 tracks/47:41
Iona is on sabbatical this year, and the various band members are working on a variety of other musical projects while resting and preparing a new album. Troy Donockley plays the various woodwind instruments and pipes, and so it is not surprising that they are prominent in this, his first solo recording.
The sound was described in the publicity for the album as "Cumbrian
folk music," and that seems as good a term as any. This is not pure Celtic
music, incorporating influences from classical ("Finlandia," a Sibelius
composition, is covered) and progressive music, and some folk music from
places south of the Highlands. The fourth song, "The Yearl," almost seems
like a focal track for the album, due to its length and its placement near
the middle of the CD. Over fourteen minutes, it moves from laidback
and string-driven to urgent and piano-led, and back again, and from there
to a more ethereal sound, before building to a more open piano and acoustic
guitar-led section, a crescendo, and
No other track reaches the fourteen minutes of "The Yearl," with four of them less than four minutes. Each of them is unique, yet they flow together well.The shortest track, "Sights," is well-focused and textured, and is probably my favourite. Terl Bryant's gentle percussion underpins the track and gives it a slightly understated feel. Unfortunately, as the album progresses the feeling comes that in its ethereal nature the album has perhaps gone too far, and a slightly stronger hand in the production would have looked for more focus to keep the listener as captivated as many passages deserve.
Iona fans will want this album in their collections--the various musicians involved in Iona seem to be building up a selection of albums that explore in greater depth the various tributaries that combine to form the band's sound, and this particular tributary makes for a beautiful and often captivating exploration. Next time Donockley comes to record an album, however, a slightly stronger production hand and sense of direction would almost certainly provide an even better album.
By James Stewart