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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

IQ

Dark Matter

Review by Steve Alspach

Having reviewed the last Jadis album, my curiosity was piqued by the fact that two of the band members were from IQ. I found their latest CD (independent CD stores - ya gotta love 'em), and gave it a spin. Consider me a convert - Dark Matter is quite a good album, with an excellent balance between keyboard and guitar, and with a little bit of a dark edge to it. The album has two lengthy pieces, and sandwiched between are three shorter songs. The whole album could probably fit on a 12" LP, for those of us old enough to remember such things and who appreciate a band's ability to refrain from trying to fill up all 75 minutes' worth.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2004 Year Book Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Sacred Ground
This 11.40 opener spends a lot of time in 7/4, sounding a bit like Spock's Beard. The song takes an interlude with organ, tubular bells, and Peter Nicholls' voice. It then kicks back into the 7/4 mode to finish out.
Red Dust Shadow
This one has a Porcupine Tree feel to it with its acoustic guitar strumming and chord pattern, but the latter part of the track packs a punch with Paul Cook's explosive drumming.
You'll Never Win
This number has an underlying dark edge throughout, with contrasts of Martin Orford's hyper keyboard solo and Michael Holmes' more melodic guitar solo.
Born Brilliant
This song has a touch of Dream Theater crunch to it, but the lyrics have a distinctively soulless, hedonistic approach to them. Martin Orford's use of the choral effect on the keyboards adds to the dramatic effect.
Harvest of Souls
This composition, at 24.29, is the center point of the album. It is slightly reminiscent of Genesis' "Supper's Ready" in its arrangement.
First of the Last
The first movement has an arpeggiated 12-string guitar and occasional keyboard accompaniment.
The Wrong Host
The rhythm section joins in at this point. Nicholls' lyrics take a political spin, addressing America on and after 9/11. The song then goes into a Yes-like brisk instrumental section and keeps up the tempo for the rest of the movement.
Nocturne
Things slow down a bit, and this movement is a bit more relaxed than the previous one - at least for a bit. The middle part of this section is a hectic stop-and-start segment with guitar and bass going note-for note while the keyboards counter with single-chord patterns.
Frame and Form
There is a catchy melodic pattern in this part. This movement is the shortest of the whole song, but the melody is given just enough time to breathe without feeling too short.
Mortal Procession
This part starts in a plodding 2/4 to represent a procession march, but then breaks into a separate mode. Martin Orford cuts a short but effective solo, lending a nod to Tony Banks.
Ghosts of Days
The big finale- there is a lyrical coda, then guitarist Michael Holmes takes the song out with a short solo.
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