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IQ - Dark Matter CD (album) cover





4.03 | 864 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
5 stars A bumper harvest

"Dark Matter" has become something of a controversial album on the forum section of this site, due to the lyrics of the feature track "Harvest of souls", which are perceived to be critical of the USA. While I do not intend to become embroiled in that debate, it is interesting to consider that had the album been made by an Italian prog band, most English speaking people would have been none the wiser, and assessed the album purely on the quality of the music.

It is impossible to ignore the lyrical content completely, but I intend here to focus primarily on the musical aspects. To do so is in fact a highly rewarding move, as there is much to enjoy, to the extent that I consider this to be IQ's best album to date (of those I have heard!).

A criticism often directed at neo-prog bands is that they lack originality, or do not "filter" their influences sufficiently. There are certainly more than passing references to the music of Gabriel/Hackett era Genesis throughout "Dark Matter", but the question really should be "does this matter"? With Genesis having long since abandoned the idea of making a pure prog album, we should perhaps be grateful for the fact that bands such as IQ are carrying the torch.

"Dark matter" has a mere 5 tracks in total, with three shorter 5-6 minute tracks being book-ended by a pair of neo-prog classics.

The album opens with "Sacred ground", a 12 minute epic which borrows significantly from Genesis "Watcher of the skies". The solo mellotron intro and Hackett like guitar work sound wonderfully familiar, with only the lighter more pop like vocals of Peter Nicholls betraying the fact that this is a much more recent release. The track is highly melodic, with plenty of instrumental passages.

Of the short tracks, both "Red dust shadow" with its "Seven stones" like mellotron ending, and "Born Brilliant" with its simplified "Apocalypse in 9/8" rhythm, offer further nods to early Genesis.

The final track, "Harvest of souls" is a magnificent 24 minute epic in the strongest traditions of all that is good about prog. The choral mellotron sound used here, and the initial structure of the track reminded me of Pendragon, and specifically "The shadow" from Masquerade overture". Later, a staccato instrumental pays tribute to the early music of Yes, and when the band sing the word "America" it further puts in mind Yes' cover of the Simon and Garfunkel song of that name. It's good to hear too some old fashioned stereo (speaker to speaker) effects with the mellotron sound later. The track moves seamlessly from section to section before reaching the climactic ending featuring more Hackett like guitar.

Coming to this album, my expectations were limited. I have enjoyed the music of IQ presented on previous albums, but considered them to be lower league. "Dark matter" however represents a true masterpiece of the genre.

Easy Livin | 5/5 |


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