IQ - Dark Matter

Year of Release: 2004
Label: Giant Electric Pea
Catalog Number: GEPCD 1034
Format: CD
Total Time: 52:18:00

With IQ still very much linked to the new wave of progressive rock, also called neo-prog, sadly a lot of people still won't give this band a listen. Those who started loving the genre by the likes of Yes, Genesis and Pink Floyd simply couldn't stand these "new" bands such as Marillion, Twelfth Night or IQ. Sure there was and still is a remarkable difference between the original prog dinosaurs and those who tried to make the face of prog more acceptable. Over the years IQ has had its ups and downs, though since the resurrection of singer Peter Nicholls the band has gone from strength to strength. I remember how keyboard player Martin Orford once explained to me how difficult life was at a certain stage when literally he had to eat dry bread and drink water so he could survive in this cruel business. Luckily for him and us he stood by his talent, which we now can all enjoy. To me their absolute highlight came in 1993 when they delivered the splendid Ever. Maybe the band themselves found the double concept album Subterranea their biggest triumph, although the album they released in 2000, The Seventh House surely had its fine moments as well. Four years on and Dark Matter delivers Nicholls' sombre lyrics to us all. From a production point of view the band has once again grown, with engineer Rob Aubrey no doubt being a very valuable asset in the entire venture. Certainly guitarist Mike Holmes and the aforementioned Martin Orford inject more of their genius into this album than ever before. Both in the acoustic as well as the electric department one can find wonderful arrangements that help to get over the sometimes difficult to accept voice of Peter Nicholls. True, Peter has the kind of voice you either love or hate and although at times his voice is high pitched the way the arrangement works is to make sure every single detail falls in place. Listen to the brilliant "Red Dust Shadow" as an example with wonderful mellotron samples backing great fretless bass from John Jowitt.

Some parts on this new album really see Orford deliver some of the best work to date. The great Moog solo in "You Never Will" is a fine example of his unlimited but sadly often underrated talent. Holmes' short guitar solo then gets in the same mould as those immortal solos from Andy Latimer. I'm not sure to what extent "Born Brilliant" is a Peter Nicholls autobiography but it surely isn't flattering for him to sing: "I'm selfish and insensitive, I'm rotten to the core, pretentious and derivative" and a litte bit further in the same song: "My good contributions are counted on the fingers of one hand." Surely this can't be the picture Nicholls has of himself, and if he has, then I hope this album will help him to put all of these negative thoughts to rest. "Born Brilliant" has a great production, featuring a lot of extra sounds with Holmes at times sounding like David Gilmour whilst the actual atmosphere is rather powerful but also repetitive. With the lengthy "Harvest Of Souls" it's as if IQ wants to tackle an entire Subterranea idea into one single song, an epic to end all epics. Here it strikes me how Holmes several times over comes very close to the patented Steve Howe sound. At around the 6:20 mark there's this great section filled with drum breaks and changes which is very very Yes-like and which spices up the song, a song that takes off in a soft acoustic way in the first place. Although I like a lot of the rhythmic changes going on, plus the solos (Martin Orford rules!), to me there's a little bit too much vocals included in this song to make me interested throughout. I think that the essence of this track could've been reduced to a cool fifteen minutes. "Harvest Of Souls" is not "Close To The Edge" and it's even five minutes longer than the Yes classic! But Dark Matter is a nice album with a great diversity in sounds and a clear production, although to me it won't beat Ever ? ever!

Released in North America by InsideOut Music America (INO-60802) and in Europe by InsideOutMusic (SPV 085-60802 CD)

Sacred Sound (11:40) / Red Dust Shadow (5:53) / You Never Will (4:54) / Born Brilliant (5:20) / Harvest Of Souls (24:29)

Paul Cook - drums, percussion
Michael Holmes - electric and acoustic guitars, ebow
John Jowitt - bass guitar, backing vocals
Peter Nicholls - all vocals
Martin Orford - keyboards, backing vocals

Tales From The Lush Attic (1983)
The Wake (1985)
Nine In A Pond Is Here (1985)
Living Proof (1986)
Nomzamo (1987)
Are You Sitting Comfortably? (1989)
J'ai Pollette D'arnu (1991)
Ever (1994)
Forever Live (1996)
Subterranea (1997)
Seven Stories Into 98 (1998)
The Lost Attic (1998)
Subterranea: The Concert (2000)
The Seventh House (2001)
The Archive Collection - IQ20 (2003)
Dark Matter (2004)
Frequency Tour CD 1 (2008)
Frequency Tour CD 2 (2008)
Frequency (2009)
The Wake: Live At De Boerderij (2010)
The Wake (Deluxe Edition) (2010)
Re:Mixed (2011)
The Archive Collection - IQ30 (2012)
Tales From The Lush Attic 2013 Remix (2013)
The Road Of Bones (2014)
Live On The Road Of Bones (2016)

Subterranea: The Concert Video (VHS) (2000)
Subterranea: The Concert DVD (DVD) (2002)
IQ20 - The Twentieth Anniversary Show (DVD) (2004)
Live From London (DVD) (2005)
Stage (DVD) (2006)
Forever Live (DVD) (2007)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin UK

Added: June 7th 2004
Reviewer: John "Bobo" Bollenberg

Artist website:
Hits: 1117
Language: english


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