David Fitzgerald and Dave Bainbridge, founders of the hugely successful band IONA and solo artists in their own right, have joined together to produce an instrumental album based around the artwork, prayers and poems of Mary's Life Journey book.
"The music on this album was originally commissioned and conceived as an interpretation in sound of the incredibly inspiring imagery and prose contained within Mary Fleeson's wonderful book 'Life Journey'. In that it has undoubtedly succeeded, but has also transcended the original brief as the unique chemistry between the two musicians that co-founded Iona has once again produced a deeply spiritual, timeless work."
A completely instrumental album (apart from some choral samples), the two Davids came together and spent several days improvising as they poured over the book and responded to the words and pictures.
Over the next year, these improvisations were gradually shaped into complete compositions which follow the chapters of the book.
Dave B relates: "In many ways this felt like we were returning to the source of the inspiration that birthed IONA the band. IONA was born out of David and I improvising together during soundchecks on Adrian Snell gigs back at the end of the 1980's and David's mystical experience of God's powerful Presence one dark night on the Island of Lindisfarne. This book was also birthed by Mary on Lindisfarne and much of its imagery is inspired by that amazing place. At certain points during the album you can hear sounds that Mary's husband Mark recorded on the island - the St Mary's church bell, the sea lapping on nearby St Cuthbert's Isle, the sound of the seabirds."
David Fitzgerald writes on his blog:
"Our approach to the recording of this project was to follow each theme and to respond by either exploring ideas through improvisation or to assemble specific themes. This Dave and I have done many times over the years, for IONA projects, or for our own solo or joint projects such as 'The Eye Of The Eagle' (which was inspired by the writings of Celtic Author David Adam)."
Dave Bainbridge says:
"We have now got something for every track and the album as a whole is flowing really well, with lots of varying textures... it really feels like the album now has a distinct personality - I'm very excited about it. We've taken care to try to bring out aspects of each chapter (or theme) and have been referring to the book's text and illustrations for reference and for inspiration. I think that we have struck a good balance between improvised tracks and those which are more arranged and have stronger melodic elements. Texture-wise, there is a lot in common with the more peaceful elements and more visionary tracks from Iona, The Book Of Kells, The Eye Of The Eagle (instrumental sections) and David's solo work, but on a few tracks I'm also going for a more orchestral, impressionistic sound."