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IQ - Dark Matter CD (album) cover





4.04 | 976 ratings

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3 stars The discovery of this website, and of all the prog activity I never knew about since my early days with Genesis/Gentle Giant/Yes/ELP, The Canterbury group and Henry Cow, has been a huge even in my life. Hitting 50 soon, and a whole new world of music that brings me back to the way music felt when I was a teenager. Thank you, truly. But, like then, when I couldn't quite "get" why certain music was popular, even here in Prog-Land, with my new compatriots, I feel strangely at odds. I began to choose new music based on the star-ratings and the kinds of adjectives people use, as well as what would tip me off as to their musical sophistication., So, here comes IQ, a band I never heard of, with some serious 4-stars-and-up ratings. Strange thing is, I responded to Dark Matter emotionally, hearing some passion, perspective, and simple, moving iconic phrases......but, with this and all other IQ albums, got bored after a maximum of twelve minutes. And then, I starting reading reviews raving about the sophistication, musicianship, and a comparison to The Lamb......and it started to hurt. I don't want to be a musical snob. I don't want to think I know more than my peers. This is music, dammit, and there are so many kinds and so many ways into the heart.....but, really? The Lamb? Some of the highest ratings of all the bands out there. So, what's my problem with IQ, as a complete newcomer to post-90's prog? FIrst, formula: As though they have three or four templates for types of chord progressions, song structure, tempo - extreme interchangeability of songs. Some of their recipes are GOOD, mind you....nothing wrong with a good, simple cookie. But, after being really happy listening most of Sacred Sound, song after song, after album after album, I heard music lego pieces being re-used again and again. I hear a solidly competent keyboardist with a feel for types of evocative but simplistic major to minor to major progressions played on limited number of synth settings; a guitarist who feels deeply while trying to find new uses for the Hackett, Howe and Cure licks and tics he practiced all those years ago; a passionate singer with an evocative but tonally and emotionally limited instrument, singing every Deeply Meaningful line as though it meant exactly the same thing as a Deeply Meaningful line in a bunch of other songs on this and other albums; a CLUNKY drummer with solid time and absolutely no groove or feel for the tone and soul of the drums (I'm a drummer, and learned from a combination of Collins/Bruford/Palmer and the jazz greats); competent no-ego bassist who does what is needed and doesn't over-reach. Basically, a shrewd and sincere group of adequate but limited musicians re-hashing the prog cliches they are capable of playing into a product that pleases fans who relate to a particular sound and vibe. This is the opposite of the Lamb, or Genesis, or Echolyn, or any of the really gifted creators of new music, of compositions that surprise and evoke emotions you didn't know you had. This is, I think, their best album, and has some memorable moments. But they are, to me, a one-trick pony, creating their trick out of moves their role models played with far greater competence and compositional variety. Not in the same musical universe as The Lamb, or Close to The Edge, or As The World, or Free Hand, or Stardust We Are. If it pleases the fans, all good....just don't call it progressive.
toddbashee | 3/5 |


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