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IQ - Dark Matter CD (album) cover





4.03 | 857 ratings

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3 stars This is the only IQ album I have heard to date. On the first listen a few months ago I found it totally unimpressive and wondered what all the fuss was about, but there are these little riffs scattered here and there that made me want to listen again, and after a few spins I was finally hooked. It's symphonic neo-Progressive music and very accessible (but not simplistic, by any means). To those who dislike the epithet 'neo-Prog', I can't apologise as the sound fits my concept of what the term represents. The playing and production are absolutely top-notch. If you like PENDRAGON's music, you'll probably like this album too.

Is it just me, or does Peter Nicholls sound like Neil Tennant of PET SHOP BOYS?! Can't say it's my favourite voice, but Nicholls does sing well.

'Sacred Sound' starts off almost sounding like TANGERINE DREAM before a catchy beat takes over and the track turns into quite a catchy song with a good tune replete with keyboards. The aforementioned keyboards are very pleasant, as are all the other instruments. There is even some ecclesiastical-sounding organ in there with the synthesizers to make classic-Prog fans feel at home.

'Red Dust Shadow' is a mellower affair, with a killer guitar riff that comes in short bursts throughout the track, just to tantalise you. I'm slightly reminded of PORCUPINE TREE by this one. This track I find very pleasing.

'You Never Will' is a catchy number, starting with the tick-tock of a clock and a funky bass.

The machine sounds on 'Born Brilliant' are very reminiscent of the FLOYD's 'Welcome To The Machine'. In fact, come to think of it, this track seems to borrow from the FLOYD quite a bit. Another good track.

'Harvest Of Souls' is a 24-minute mega track, and has generated polemic in a forum on this Web site due to its criticism of the USA. I'm a little ashamed to say that, if it weren't for the forum discussion, I would probably not yet have realised the subject matter: I just don't really take-in the lyrics on this album, despite the singing being clear as a bell and mixed to the front. I suppose I'm too busy following the tunes. The CD comes with a nice booklet with all the lyrics, so I'll have to read it sometime, although I feel no great urge to do so.

Perhaps I'm not taking the lyrics on any of the tracks as seriously as I should simply because I hear catchy and rather commercial tunes. Can't say for sure, but I'm more inclined to whistle or hum than follow the words. OK, 'Harvest Of Souls' has short bursts of 'serious' sounds such as soldiers drilling, emulated machinegun fire and shelling plus some more-intense instrumental parts, but much of the music itself still sounds quite upbeat to me. 'Harvest Of Souls', like 'Red Dust Shadow', tantalises here and there with some catchy guitar riffs and melodies. I read reviews using words like "dark" and "profound" which are at odds with the music I hear. I'll just have to make the effort to concentrate on the words, I suppose.

The bottom line: good melodies, good playing, good production, good instruments and 'incidentals', and well sung (albeit with a voice not quite to my taste). Quite a commercial feel, despite all the clever Progressive Rock keyboards and other fancy sounds (but I happily listen to all sorts of music, so I have no trouble there). I'm not sure what it is about the album that stops me shouting about it from the rooftops but, whatever it is, it's frustrating. I find the music rather like marzipan: I have to keep trying it to see if I like it or not. I bought the CD after listening several times to all the tracks, so I suppose I must like it! I don't know why I still feel ambivalent about the music but, given my uncertainty, I'm going for 3 stars on this one (Good, but non-essential).

Fitzcarraldo | 3/5 |


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