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IQ - Dark Matter CD (album) cover





4.03 | 859 ratings

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4 stars IQ is one my favorite neo prog band: the last 3 albums, Ever, Subterranea and Seventh house, have a perfect atmospheric & emotional neo prog full of organ and modern keyboards. However, IQ definitely removed the atmospheric, modern & fresh mood on Dark Matter, and they rather use vintage keyboards, mostly organ, mellotron, mini moog and piano. So, this album is no longer neo prog. What happens when you expect another album sounding like the 3 previous ones, and rather discover a come back to the old school? Disappointment would be the first reaction. Despite Dark Matter remains very good, it contains many irritating elements.

"Sacred ground" contains one the the best drums parts by Paul Cook: very fast and elaborated. Plus, the organ sound is absolutely outstanding: after the 9th minute, this floating organ BURNS like an infinite source of energy, shining over the other instruments!

"Red dust shadow" is less good: i don't like the effect on the synthesizer and on the lead vocals, recalling me the dull style on some of the Marillion's Brave album parts.

"You never will" is their worst track! Actually, I'm wondering if it is not the worst track by IQ! Apart the main refrain, the music seems to go nowhere! It is absolutely not catchy at all. Even the moog solo is accompanied by textures that go nowhere. Thanks God, Cook's drums are excellent, and the final too short guitar solo is among the best one on this album, at least for the sound and the melody.

"Born brilliant" starts with the "Welcome to the machine" sound (Wish you were here), followed by an excellent floating mellotron? sounding like "Silent sorrow in empty boats" (Lamb lies down on Broadway). Unfortunately, the track is, again, very ordinary, as reveals the very low frequency keyboards sounds and repetitive boring slow beat.

Fortunately, the last track, "Harvest of souls", lasting around 24 minutes, is the best and the most progressive one of the album. Nicholls sings very well, and it seems Orford abundantly uses organ and piano. The track has very well synchronized fast parts, however not really bringing emotion nor addiction. I prefer the mellow parts, because they are more catchy and atmospheric. At 8:40, we have the really first catchy atmospheric part of the album, reminding the moods on the previous albums, although the keyboards and the electric guitar solos could be more expressive. There are many bizarre dark sounds, probably created by voices and keyboards, which are really annoying. At 12:20, there is another atmospheric & catchy part, rhythmic piano oriented, very pleasant to hear, despite, more than ever, the lack of shine from the guitar department. At 21:20, you have the feeling to hear another version of the finale of "Common ground" (Nomzamo)! This part is the third and final catchy atmospheric one on this track.

Nicholls's voice is often less meowing, more serious and better.

Dark Matter has obviously weak points: the electric guitar lacks some sound enhancement, especially the solos: the sound is more conservative, removing a significant ambience that was so pleasant to hear on the previous albums, because of the guitar sound. We feel a loss of global solidarity from each instrument, as if each musician was playing in his corner. Finally, needless to say that Martin Orford tries here some sonorities that are not really convincing.

Finally, this record is not better than Nomzamo! I wish IQ come back to their previous modern, catchy, emotional and atmospheric sound!

greenback | 4/5 |


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