People who enjoy the music of bands like Iona and Mostly Autumn are logically also familiar with multi-instrumentalist Troy Donockley. Together with these bands he has recorded quite a number of albums, but he has worked with artists as Barbara Dickson, The Bad Shepherds and Nightwish as well. Whilst Iona took a break Troy worked on his solo albums and to date he recorded The Unseen Stream (1998), The Pursuit Of Illusion (2003) and Madness Of Crowds (2009, see review). He also made a couple of albums with his former Iona band mate Dave Bainbridge. Recently Donockley compiled an album called Messages, A Collection Of Music 1998-2011 containing tracks from his three solo albums and two new and previously unreleased tracks.
Usually I'm not so fond of compilation albums, but for this album I'll make an exception. Why? Well, not because of the two new tracks For Him Who Will Never Return and Dunmail Rising, but after listening to this album I was again impressed by the outstanding compositions. Donockley is a master in blending progressive rock, Celtic music, movie scores and classical music. In the liner notes of the album you can't find much information. Only the tracks are mentioned, but not the musicians who perform them. However, after some searching on the internet it became clear that these titles are performed with some of the finest musicians Troy Donockley worked with over the years of whom many are rather familiar like Nick Beggs, Terl Bryant, Tim Harries, Joanne Hogg and Frank van Essen. With all these musicians he performed live on stage and in the recording studios when he was a member of Iona. However, Olivia Sparnenn and Heather Findlay, the current and the former lead singer of Mostly Autumn, participate as well. Furthermore you'll hear the York Cantores Choir and The Emperor String Quartet both responsible for the classical influences on the album. But also less known people like Nollaig Casey, Julie Darling, Andy Duncan, Peter Knight and Brad Lang can be heard. It's obvious that Barbara Dickson assisted him as well, because Troy has done a lot for her in the past.
I dare to say that the entire album consists of highlights only. However, I do have some favourites such as Now and Voyager with its fantastic climax. Or the haunting Finlandia on which you can enjoy Uilleann pipes, low whistles, tin whistles together with The Emperor String Quartet. Another one of my favourite pieces is The Procession, containing a combination of classical strings, keyboards, whistles, pipes and an E-bow which got me shivers down my spine. If you're not familiar with the music of Troy Donockley, but you want to listen to his best compositions I would definitely advise you to check out Messages, A Collection Of Music 1998-2011. It's highly recommended!
**** Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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