IQ - Dark Matter

Year of Release: 2004
Label: InsideOut Music America
Catalog Number: INO-60802
Format: CD
Total Time: 52:16:00

Don't ever tell IQ's Martin Orford that his band's music is "Neo progressive." You'll be told in no uncertain terms that the term "Neo" is "fallacious" (his word), there is no such genre, and the "new wave" of prog never really happened. Which is interesting, since along with Marillion, IQ has been credited with spearheading a prog revival in the 1980s.

Rightly or wrongly, "Neo" is a sub-genre of prog. The word no longer means "new," but rather describes particular style of music. And whether IQ helped create neo prog or not is frankly moot because Dark Matter doesn't fit into that genre anyway! This is symphonic progressive rock of the highest order.

Twenty three years of history has given IQ a depth and finesse that is very evident in every aspect of this record, most notably in the songwriting. There are just 5 tracks on Dark Matter, but they're quite long (one is nearly 12 minutes, one is a 25-minute epic). They do not describe a concept nor do they follow a theme, but you'd never say so after listening to it. All 5 pieces share a similar ambience, there are musical themes that recur across the album, and it hangs together beautifully as a single body of work rather than as 5 separate songs.

Like every respectable proggie, I'm a sucker for epics, and "Harvest Of Souls" is one of the best I've heard in a long time. It meanders through a series of changes and styles, the mood is constantly developing, and the melodies are almost never repeated yet you'll remember them all. There are mellow acoustic passages, huge walls of sound, militaristic machine-gun staccato sections, and hard rock and soft ballad and more tempo changes and layered textures than you can count.

Mike Holmes's guitar work is excellent. There are no guitar virtuoso performances here - this is more reminiscent of the Hackett / Latimer style where every note counts and you can feel the emotion vibrating in the strings. Martin's keyboards are more evident on this album than on recent IQ albums, and the sound achieved is rich and beautifully textured. And is it my imagination, or has Peter Nicholls's voice picked up a Gabriel / Fish inflection that I didn't hear before? I'll have to re-listen to IQ's back catalog. Perhaps I'll spin the excellent Ever or the even better Subterranea. The comparisons will be valid, because Dark Matter is at least as good as those albums - and probably better.

IQ makes no secret - or apology - about its Genesis influences. Their music is certainly not derivative, yet neither is it terribly imaginative. It is simply damned fine music played very well, and it has its slot booked on my best-of-2004 list.

Released in the UK by GEP Records (GEPCD 1034) and in Europe by InsideOut Music (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 (24:30)

Peter Nicholls - lead vocals
Martin Orford - keyboards, bass pedals, backing vocals
Michael Holmes - guitars
John Jowitt - bass, backing vocals
Paul Cook - drums, percussion

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: July 6th 2004
Reviewer: Duncan N Glenday
Artist website:
Hits: 1498
Language: english


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