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The Lens - A Word In Your Eye CD (album) cover


The Lens



3.67 | 69 ratings

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4 stars Ever wondered about an album of instrumental prog on the lines of Steve Hackett's title track Spectral Mornings and just how refreshing that just might be? Well, the Lens were IQ's Mike Holmes and Martin Orford's band before becoming "rich and famous" and they very wisely decided to revisit some of their vintage material , gathering dust in some smoky section of their home studio. With IQ drummer Paul Cook and saxophonist Tony Wright on board, they decided to put this wondrous project together with stupendous aplomb, a scintillating slab of fluid, melodic, symphonic instrumental progressive. Wasting little time, the disc booms into the stratosphere with the majestic "Sleep until you Wake", a luscious concoction eerily reminiscent of the Spectral Morning inspiration. The rumbling synth intro plays cattily with the vast guitar swaths, full of effect and passion , weaving this immense mellotron-soaked melody that amuses itself to constantly aim at crescendo, as if in an orgasmic trance, giving Holmes the freedom and the inspiration to boldly soar where few have before. Waking up to this every morning would be a blessing, screw the rooster! "Choosing a Farmer Part 1", with part 2 closing this disc much later, is again in typical Hackett/IQ territory without the vocals, but with subtle little touches: reggae guitar chug, dreamy acoustic guitar passages, some lustrous Banksian organ passages, electric solos galore with a slow fade "to be followed". "On Stephen's Castle ", the magical Orford flute shows up in pastoral disguise, with acoustic chaperone and shines some gorgeous serenity on the general flow. "Shafts of Light" is a faultless mellotron /e-guitar etude, with placid passion, the ultimate expression of musical effect and shadow. "Childhood's End" has the piano leading the piper or rather the saxophone player here, in a cool jazz-prog workout that has a totally different feel than anything else presented on the disc, sort of like prog playing in the convertible as the wind blows through your hair, going down the Pacific Coast Highway. A delightful little diversion with some brief vocals, nice but nothing really of the same caliber as the rest. "Frost & Fire" is the exact opposite, a ideal companion to the seductive opener, a colossal melody achingly put together like an Ant Phillips composition, tons of acoustic guitar weaving merrily, winds and thunder as sound effects in the back ground, slowly building into a metamorphosis that just quantum leaps forward into an almost a space Gong-like boogie, with Hillagian guitar sweeps, mellotron howls and wildly bubbling synths. An Orford synth solo gives this even more credibility, setting up a massively soaring Holmes lead guitar spiral, all nuance and enthusiasm. Definitely highlight stuff! The almost 9 minute long "Of Tide & Change " is the longest track here, showcasing piano, synth and organ , meshing nicely with Holmes' various interventions both on electric and acoustic, sounding probably more like IQ without the microphone , as one could easily imagine Nicholls howling passionate lyrics over this arrangement. A rather zipping synth solo really entices a smile, then suddenly disrobing to reveal a sweet flute "ballade" with almost baroque overtones and then proudly re-adorning itself with a simple synth motif, more evocative piano and a lead guitar line that takes the afore mentioned motif and slings it into the higher realms of pleasure. Damn fine music, this is. "From the Sublime" is next and with a title like that, you can guess what you are in for! Simple beauty, nothing too complex, again closer to Anthony Phillips than Hackett, very minimalist until about midway through, where the mood just explodes into a more Tangerine Dream like atmosphere, synths bopping all over, lead and background, weaving majestically, as Holmes' guitar keeps it straight and orderly. Glittering atmospherics enhance the overall feel with striking shafts of mellotron. "Choosing the Framer Part2 " closes this fine opus with a playful return to the initial rambling melody, all very joyous and exciting. Holmes getting to rip off some fine rhythmic chops as well as displaying some very clean soloing, while the keyboard parts are straight out of the Tony Banks school of prog. It becomes quite clear where the true IQ spirit developed from, the unique vision of Orford and Holmes. This record is a must have if you enjoy all the above mentioned. 4.5 Monocles
tszirmay | 4/5 |


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