Friday, April 04, 2008

Album of the Day--April 4, 2008

The Wake
Sahara Records
Produced by Mike Holmes and Tim Esau

For reasons I shan’t go into, I was in an IQ mood this morning. Along with Marillion, IQ were part of the mid-1980s “fish out of water” neo-progressive rock movement that was not especially popular at the time, but inspired legions of followers in the 1990s and 2000s. Like Marillion and their forebears, IQ tended toward epic songs with varying movements and recurring themes, changes in time signature, outstanding musicianship, and a cult following. Singer Peter Nicholls sounds a little bit like Peter Gabriel, but that’s about where the Genesis comparisons end. Nicholls was also the lyric writer, and the words are dark and cryptic—one never knows quite what he is on about, but he sings it well. The Wake was their second album, released in 1985, and was a landmark in the annals of progressive rock. It incorporates a variety of 80s sounds (electronic percussion in places, newer keyboards, etc.), but never sounds especially dated. The title track and "The Thousand Days" are more or less straightforward songs that could have been singles, or at least received radio play, but, alas never did. IQ would get better over the years; they are still around, despite a few personnel changes, and their 2004 album Dark Matter was, IMO, their best.

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