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IQ - Subterranea CD (album) cover





3.97 | 628 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
5 stars IQ had a rocky road at the latter part of the 80s with a couple sub-stellar releases but managed to find a firm footing in the progressive rock arenas once again with their 1993 comeback "Ever." Apparently deciding to never repeat the mistakes of such bellyflops as "Are You Sitting Comfortably?" ever again, the band now had a stable lineup with creative juices just bubbling over in mega-effervescence and spent four years polishing their craft before they unleashed the grandiose double album monstrosity SUBTERRANEA which took all the excesses of prog and ran away with them unapologetically. This behemoth of a musical extravaganza will require many trips to the buffet, periods of stepping back for proper digestion and then further revisitation for the full-on effect to properly gel within the listener's inner music box.

IQ stepped it up in every possible way on SUBTERRANEA. Firstly with the lyrical contents they deliver a highly complex story about a man (remaining mysterious and nameless) who was held captive for most of his life and deprived of the most ordinary of experiences that most of us take for granted on a daily basis. After being released he's deluged by the Captain America effect meaning that he has woken up to a world that has passed him by in every regard and his struggle to catch up leaves him destitute and grasping for his sanity. The story becomes a full-fledged musical soap opera as he falls in love with a girl named Maya, discovers others who have been experimented and detained against their will and joins forces to take revenge against the miscreants who carried out these atrocities. The plot fails and this same guy ends up back to the very isolation from which the story began thus creating a full circle approach to story telling all the while backed up by some of the most compelling progressive musical deliveries that the 90s had to offer.

Lucky for IQ that Peter Nicholls returned to the helm as vocalist and lyrical contributor in chief because he churns out some of the most compelling yet mysteriously vague story content of his career as done right in true prog fashion leaving the other members to focus exclusively on the musical accompaniment which is nothing short of brilliant as IQ dishes out some of the strongest melodies and song structures of their career with each cadence wresting a heart felt explosion of emotional reaction as keyboard lines tinkle their way into a gravitational pull that is utterly irresistible. The group interplay is beyond strong as even the longest of tracks such as the double-discker's closer "The Narrow Margin" keeps the listener enthralled for its entirety. Nicholls' vocal performance is absolutely top notch and each track successfully builds upon what came before and creates a true complete album experience like very few others of the newly resurrected prog universe of the 90s succeeded in accomplishing.

While it's no secret that IQ was always a Peter Gabriel era Genesis type of band, SUBTERRANEA can certainly bring the double album "The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway" to mind not only in its scope and delivery with accessible keyboard driven musical prosody accompanied by excellent lyrical elocution but offers a more obnubilated sense of meaning and only offers an impressionalist's perspective of a story that leaves more questions dangling about than it it answers however even if you couldn't give a flying bleep about the lyrics, the music on this one offers a diverse array of neo-prog perfection that adheres to all the genre expectations of beautifully laid out extended compositions that ratchet up the emotional responses in a systematic and melodic way. This isn't one for the casual listener and like many complex works requires some commitment to understand but with a little devotion can be easily extricated from its inscrutable initial impressions.

siLLy puPPy | 5/5 |


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