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Dave Bainbridge: Celestial Fire

A holy punch from jazz-seasoned Celtic/Christian prog Brit.

During the 90s, Dave Bainbridge worked with a glittering cast – from Robert Fripp to Nick Beggs – as head man of Celtic prog outfit Iona.

So it’s fitting that this solo adventure features a veritable ‘who’s who’ of contemporary progressive types (Neal Morse/Jordan Rudess drummer Collin Leijenaar, Threshold’s Damian Wilson, Nightwish’s Uilleann pipes dude Troy Donockley). Healthily supported, Bainbridge combines Irish folk sensibilities with Dream Theater-esque prog metal and spiralling Flower Kings-meets-new-age tones. The likes of The First Autumn introduce a Mostly Autumn-style folk-prog side, made gutsier with strident guitar flourishes in tracks like For Such A Time As This. Everything’s rendered more sparkly with delicate piano fills and the general sense of a grand, medieval orchestra at work – think Keith Emerson and John Petrucci’s pagan love child. Certain Celtic tendencies may prove less commanding for some, but the rich musicianship at work generates a satisfying, sophisticated prog/folk tapestry. Just don’t let the awful, poor-man’s sci-fi typeface used for the track listing on the back cover put you off.