Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography


The Lens


From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

The Lens A Word In Your Eye album cover
3.69 | 78 ratings | 6 reviews | 21% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

Write a review

Buy THE LENS Music
from partners
Studio Album, released in 2001

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Sleep Until You Wake (7:11)
2. Choosing a Farmer (part 1) (8:10)
3. On Stephen's Castle Down (2:27)
4. Shafts of Light (2:52)
5. Childhood's End (5:51)
6. Frost & Fire (6:27)
7. Of Tide & Change (8:56)
8. From the Sublime (6:38)
9. Choosing a Farmer (part 3) (5:32)

Total Time: 54:04

Line-up / Musicians

- Michael Holmes / guitars, bass, keyboards, producer
- Martin Orford / keyboards, flute, vocals

- Paul Cook / drums
- Tony Wright / saxophone

Releases information

Re-recording of a selection of compositions by Holmes/Orford for "The Lens" from 1977-1981

Artwork: Michael Holmes

CD Giant Electric Pea - GEP CD1031 (2001, UK)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
Edit this entry

Buy THE LENS A Word In Your Eye Music

THE LENS A Word In Your Eye ratings distribution

(78 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(21%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(42%)
Good, but non-essential (26%)
Collectors/fans only (12%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

THE LENS A Word In Your Eye reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by loserboy
4 stars Finally the story of this short lived chronicle in IQ's past has been answered ! I was always wishing I had heard The LENS' (the pre-cursor to IQ) music and now with "A Word In Your Eye" the world can hear how it all started. This CD is pure instrumental magic with some great leading instrumental space'ish keyboards (Martin Orford) , clean precision drumming (Paul Cook) and solid guitar and bass throughout (Michael Holmes). In many ways (and no big surprise) it sounds like the instrumental passages of IQ with what I may suggest includes a trace of a modern TANGERINE DREAM influence. In certain songs you can actually hear where IQ lifted portions out of this material in making their early albums "The Wake" and "Tales From The Lush Attic". Although it would have been kind of fun to have heard the original late 70's/80's version of these songs I must admit my appreciation for the quality of the recording and modern output. A truly amazing album with some simply enduring instrumental songs.
Review by tszirmay
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Ever wondered about an album of instrumental prog on the lines of Steve Hackett's title track Spectral Mornings and just how refreshing that just might be? Well, the Lens were IQ's Mike Holmes and Martin Orford's band before becoming "rich and famous" and they very wisely decided to revisit some of their vintage material , gathering dust in some smoky section of their home studio. With IQ drummer Paul Cook and saxophonist Tony Wright on board, they decided to put this wondrous project together with stupendous aplomb, a scintillating slab of fluid, melodic, symphonic instrumental progressive. Wasting little time, the disc booms into the stratosphere with the majestic "Sleep until you Wake", a luscious concoction eerily reminiscent of the Spectral Morning inspiration. The rumbling synth intro plays cattily with the vast guitar swaths, full of effect and passion , weaving this immense mellotron-soaked melody that amuses itself to constantly aim at crescendo, as if in an orgasmic trance, giving Holmes the freedom and the inspiration to boldly soar where few have before. Waking up to this every morning would be a blessing, screw the rooster! "Choosing a Farmer Part 1", with part 2 closing this disc much later, is again in typical Hackett/IQ territory without the vocals, but with subtle little touches: reggae guitar chug, dreamy acoustic guitar passages, some lustrous Banksian organ passages, electric solos galore with a slow fade "to be followed". "On Stephen's Castle ", the magical Orford flute shows up in pastoral disguise, with acoustic chaperone and shines some gorgeous serenity on the general flow. "Shafts of Light" is a faultless mellotron /e-guitar etude, with placid passion, the ultimate expression of musical effect and shadow. "Childhood's End" has the piano leading the piper or rather the saxophone player here, in a cool jazz-prog workout that has a totally different feel than anything else presented on the disc, sort of like prog playing in the convertible as the wind blows through your hair, going down the Pacific Coast Highway. A delightful little diversion with some brief vocals, nice but nothing really of the same caliber as the rest. "Frost & Fire" is the exact opposite, a ideal companion to the seductive opener, a colossal melody achingly put together like an Ant Phillips composition, tons of acoustic guitar weaving merrily, winds and thunder as sound effects in the back ground, slowly building into a metamorphosis that just quantum leaps forward into an almost a space Gong-like boogie, with Hillagian guitar sweeps, mellotron howls and wildly bubbling synths. An Orford synth solo gives this even more credibility, setting up a massively soaring Holmes lead guitar spiral, all nuance and enthusiasm. Definitely highlight stuff! The almost 9 minute long "Of Tide & Change " is the longest track here, showcasing piano, synth and organ , meshing nicely with Holmes' various interventions both on electric and acoustic, sounding probably more like IQ without the microphone , as one could easily imagine Nicholls howling passionate lyrics over this arrangement. A rather zipping synth solo really entices a smile, then suddenly disrobing to reveal a sweet flute "ballade" with almost baroque overtones and then proudly re-adorning itself with a simple synth motif, more evocative piano and a lead guitar line that takes the afore mentioned motif and slings it into the higher realms of pleasure. Damn fine music, this is. "From the Sublime" is next and with a title like that, you can guess what you are in for! Simple beauty, nothing too complex, again closer to Anthony Phillips than Hackett, very minimalist until about midway through, where the mood just explodes into a more Tangerine Dream like atmosphere, synths bopping all over, lead and background, weaving majestically, as Holmes' guitar keeps it straight and orderly. Glittering atmospherics enhance the overall feel with striking shafts of mellotron. "Choosing the Framer Part2 " closes this fine opus with a playful return to the initial rambling melody, all very joyous and exciting. Holmes getting to rip off some fine rhythmic chops as well as displaying some very clean soloing, while the keyboard parts are straight out of the Tony Banks school of prog. It becomes quite clear where the true IQ spirit developed from, the unique vision of Orford and Holmes. This record is a must have if you enjoy all the above mentioned. 4.5 Monocles
Review by progrules
4 stars I almost forgot I had this very nice release by The Lens laying somewhere around here waiting to be reviewed. The Lens is a sort of predecessor of IQ as we can read in the band description. I will not repeat the history Ivan has written down there but most interesting thing to realize is that though this album was released in 2001 the material is actually from the period before IQ was even founded in 1981, so late 70's is what you will have to think of.

Ivan also wrote the material is interesting and I agree with him. The songs are all instrumental with exception of Childhood's End which contains a bit of vocals done by Martin Orford. A very nice track this by the way with very fine sax play by Tony Wright. The rest of the tracks are all just about of the same quality but not really in the same style. Most of the songs are calm and ambient (with a touch of prog folk in some occasions) but some are more energetic, at least for parts of them. Like Frost and Fire for instance where first half of the song is quiet and second half (as title suggests) much more spicy.

So all things considered an interesting album to add to your collection. 90% is played and composed by IQ members so IQ fans are invited to take a chance here I'd say. But any fan of very nice, good quality instrumental neo prog could go for this one really. Recommended. 4* (rounded up from 3,75).

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
2 stars Low IQ

The Lens is a band that consist of some members of IQ; Martin Orford, Michael Holmes and Paul Cook. The roots of the band apparently go all the way back to the mid 70's, even if this, their sole album, A Word In Your Eye, was released in 2001. The Lens is thus both a pre-IQ band and a side-project. The music itself, however, has little to do with that of IQ. A Word In Your Eye reminds more of Jadis, another IQ-related band. Similarities with Pink Floyd, Mike Oldfield, Steve Hackett (but a Steve Hackett on sleeping pills, really!), Solstice and others can also be detected. Maybe even a bit of Vangelis! The instruments involved are keyboards, flute, electric and acoustic guitars, bass and drums and competently played. There is also saxophone on one track, creating a kind of lounge-Jazz feeling!

This album is not wholly instrumental (as some other reviewers have said), but almost entirely instrumental. The sparse and discrete vocals are apparently by Martin Orford and there are also some Pink Floyd-like spoken word samples in the background reminding of those on Dark Side Of The Moon. There are only occasional outbursts of Neo-Prog "flash", but for most of the time the music here is slow and very soothing and relaxed. There are some nice acoustic guitar passages (occasionally sounding a bit like those New-Age albums Steve Howe did with Paul Sutin). Everything here sounds great, but despite the lovely sounds they produce, the music overall tends to lack direction. The result is indeed pleasant, but very unremarkable and unmemorable (like much of Jadis output). This is the kind of music you will want to have in the background while reading, but not something for serious listening.

This can really only be recommended for collectors of everything related to IQ or maybe also to those with a special interest in the lighter side of instrumental Prog (even if I can think of many better examples of that kind of music)

Review by Warthur
4 stars The Lens were Michael Holmes and Martin Orford's pre-IQ band, who managed to create a fairly well-received demo album (No TV Tonite) before breaking up - with Orford and Holmes forming the nucleus of what would become IQ. Like IQ's Seven Stories Into 98 was a more or less loyal rerecording of the Seven Stories Into Eight demo tape, A Word In Your Eye is a fresh recording of the old Lens material, with IQ's Paul Cook guesting on drums.

It's quite apparent listening to this that the Lens' style was more or less in keeping with the other major forces in the primal days of the early neo-prog scene. As with Arrive Alive by Pallas and Live At the Target by Twelfth Night, there's a diverse range of influences at play here, firmly busting the myth that neo-prog arose out of unabashed Genesis worship. Like Pallas at the time, I hear a bit of Rush (in particular, echoes of the gentler parts of the Farewell to Kings album); like Twelfth Night, I detect a little influence from Steve Hackett's Spectral Mornings and Defector albums, and like the early material from both the other bands, I get a touch of Eloy- esque space rock here and there. On top of that, the band include a fusion influence or two in Childhood's End, which includes a neat guest appearance by Tony Wright on saxophone.

IQ fans will be eager to pick this one up to see the roots of the band, whilst I would say that most fans of early neo-prog will be well served by this release - as well as anyone fond of late- 1970s and early 1980s released by the likes of Eloy, Rush, Steve Hackett, and other artists who managed to bridge the end of the golden age and the start of the 1980s with their progressive spirit intact.

Review by kev rowland
4 stars This album has been a long time coming, over twenty years in fact. The Lens was the band where Mike Holmes and Martin Orford (and sometimes Peter Nicholls) first played together. Mike formed the band in 1976, with Martin joining in 1977. The band never recorded and broke up in 1981, with Mike and Martin forming a new band, called IQ.

Many IQ fans, myself included, have wondered what The Lens sounded like, as I was down in Devon when they were playing in London so never had the opportunity to hear them. This album is an attempt to put things right, although this is a new version with Mike providing all of the bass as well as guitar, Martin keyboards flute and the few vocals, and they are joined by Paul Cook on drums, with Tony Wright also providing the odd sax. Given that three of them are full-time members of IQ, and the other is often a guest for IQ, it is no surprise that at times they sound fairly similar. What must be remembered though is that IQ grew out of The Lens, not the other way around.

"Choosing A Farmer" is my particular fave, with some great guitar and interplay between the main protagonists while Cooky shows what a superb drummer he is. The album is mostly instrumental, although Martin does sing on "Childhood's End". This is an album that will be a huge hit with all IQ fans, but will appeal to all those who enjoy progressive rock. The songs all have purpose and although instrumental do not just meander through without meaning. A short history is provided in the booklet, and this is a release worth getting.

Originally appeared in Feedback #66, Feb 02

Latest members reviews

No review or rating for the moment | Submit a review

Post a review of THE LENS "A Word In Your Eye"

You must be a forum member to post a review, please register here if you are not.


As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: — jazz music reviews and archives | — metal music reviews and archives

Donate monthly and keep PA fast-loading and ad-free forever.