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FREQUENCY

IQ

 

Neo-Prog

4.13 | 654 ratings

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tszirmay
Special Collaborator
Crossover Team
5 stars This is one I have been itching, bitching and scratching to first listen intently and then review. In fact, my dear sinkadotentree beat me to the punch but graciously (as only he can so naturally) informed me by PM that I will anoint this with 5 stars, when I get my hands and ears on it! I hugely enjoyed the previous "Dark Matter" and even saw the support show and was suitably blown away by their mastery of their craft. They have been accused of Marillion clones but I have severe doubts about that assumption as Nicholls is nowhere near the esteemed Fish in delivery, lyrical chicanery and stage persona. Peter is an altogether different fish (pun intended), closer to Gabriel if anyone as I see a vocal personality here, his voice only aging like the finest wine, supremely confident and evocative. This is a band that seems to grow (progress?.hahahaha!) with each release and slaloming through the perils of losing retiring members on keys and drums. It must be said that Martin Orford's departure could have been worrisome but the others certainly picked up the slack, most assuredly proving that Holmes is a way underrated talent. "Frequency" starts off with a delirious glee, as new keyboardist Mark Westwood unleashes copious doses of electronic beeping and swaths of dense mellotron , synthing hand in hand with Mike Holmes romantic and graceful guitar lines , master bassist Jowitt blasting the relentless beat ahead with colleague Andy Edwards drumming up a storm. "Life Support" has all the hallmarks to illuminate the progressive highway, restrained über-melodies that are so typically British, a piano driven reasoning of elegance , the liquid solo that carves deep into the "spectral mornings" that can only hearken back to Hackett's glory days. What a momentous piece of progressive genius that should be lapped up by all fans of prog (while many consider IQ to be "Neo", I personally judge them to be firmly in the symphonic element). The richness of the arrangements are always so convincing, especially when heard (and proven right) in a live setting. The epic "Stronger Than Fiction" is a reptilian escapade that rumbles onward like some crazed mechanical beast with Nicholls singing his spirit out, wrapped in a moody tirade that charms and seduces, very much in the typical IQ formula with deep furrowed tempo contrasts between the sweet pastoral and the disturbingly frantic. Another winning track, will it go, all, the, way?? (as Berman would say). The stately axe flight soars this fiction all the way to the stars, a powerful sortie that utterly convinces. "One Fatal Mistake" is an oddity, an IQ ballad that evokes the misery of love, loaded with soporific keys and piano motifs that underline the plaintive vocal. A nice little love interlude that dies in a choir mellotron curtsy! "Ryker Skies" is a more somber affair that relates to the paranoia of social disease, sounding more like the recent and harder edged Galahad, a brutish beat that swerves into sonic gloom. The choir-trons create massive damage whilst the synth slashes burrow deeply, the marshalling beat remains unflinching. The 13 minute "The Province" is the killer track here, a masterful stroke of aural bliss that is perhaps the most symphonic piece they have ever written. Acoustic guitars string their web across the Peter Nicholls swoon, heartfelt lyrics that dance with the lungs and then a suddenly raging riff enters the fray, blasting imperially into submission. The attractive pattern from soft to hard is repeated again to great effect, giving Edwards the platform to bash around like a monster. Epic indeed, an immense piece that will need nay more revisits to truly appreciate. "Closer" as the name implies is the final opus, a mirroring lilt that floats serenely amid sadly defiant and despondent lyrics that express the current world's tears. They ostensibly pay attention to the world around them, displaying the unique charm of blending disappointment with hope. The chorus is a sonic rainbow of majesty, a harrowing punctuation mark on another classic IQ recording. A magnificent album that deserves the penta stars but it's too early yet to knock "Dark Matter" off the podium. 5 radio towers nevertheless. Right again, sinky!
tszirmay | 5/5 |

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