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IQ - The Wake CD (album) cover





3.80 | 554 ratings

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Cygnus X-2
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars IQ's second album, simply titled The Wake, was released in 1984 after a spectacular debut in Tales from the Lush Attic. With this album, the group decided to focus on more concise pieces rather than sprawling epics, and to simply put it they hit the mark once again. Although the sound of this album is very 80s, there are a lot of progressive moments and times when you feel like you could listen to this stuff forever. Think of this music as technical instrumental passages coupled with melodic and well composed vocal sections (as with every IQ album). The group plays wonderfully on this album and the intricate riffs and patterns they play sound wonderful and are very creative. Mike Holmes, although not the looker at this period of his life mainly because of his hair, is the star of this album giving 100% and really showing that he is a very competent guitarist.

The album opens with the droning syncopated rhythm of Outer Limits. The bass and drums really connect well for the introduction of this song. The keyboard tone here is lush and vibrant and the chord progression is really unique. A nice 5/4 rhythm comes in right before the vocals, in which Paul Cook really shows his skills on the kit, giving some really nice fills. This steady 5/4 beat remains for the rest of the song, but alternates with a 7/8 and 7/4 pattern. The outro is the same droning beat that began the song. The Wake begins with a bang. Strong drumming from Cook and some quality leads from Holmes breaks into a powerful riff with some nice organ and distorted guitar. Holmes shines with a terrific solo in the middle of it and Orford is great with his synthesizer fills and his pseudo mellotron choirs.

The Magic Roundabout has a nice ascending and descending riff in the beginning, and Nichols' vocal on this track is really strong. The droning riff from Outer Limits is reprised here, albeit in a bit different form and a bit more subtle than the song itself. Holmes gives another great guitar solo at the end to put the icing on the cake that is The Magic Roundabout. Corners begins with some electronic percussion, and some precision playing at that. Orford then gives airy fills with his synthesizer while Nichols gives a passionate vocal performance. Tim Esau gives a dynamic bass performance on this one, offering a complex and catchy bass line that keeps the song at a groove. Some sitar comes in around the 4th minute during a very long fadeout, showing the experimentation of the group. It's not a terribly strong song, though; as it could have been cut down tremendously and there is a lack of real feel to the song.

Widow's Peak begins with some chorused riffing from Holmes in the vein of Steve Rothery or Alex Lifeson. Some anxious flute, courtesy of Orford, comes in with a nice 7/8 motif. Nichols vocal flows well with the soaring synths of Orford and the dynamic drumming of Paul Cook. Holmes gets another little section to show his riffing skills near the 6th minute, and he really gets the Rothery vibe on Perimeter Walk (part of the Marillion song Blind Curve). The ending of the song features some strong work from Orford and Esau. The Thousand Days begins with some nice riffing from Holmes and a great bass line from Esau. The textured work from Orford and the consistent work from Cook make this song a really enjoyable one to listen to. Headlong begins somberly with some emotional vocals from Nichols and some anxious keyboard work from Orford. A nice guitar riff comes in, and it soon has this great feeling of mystery as Orford gives a dynamic keyboard solo that takes many twists and turns. Mike Holmes gets some time to shine as well, giving a very well played solo involving many slides up and down the fret board the album. In the end, this is a terrific (and epic) closer to the end of the album.

Overall, this is a terrific album that really is one of IQ's finest moments. My only gripes with the album is the sub par production (while not terrible, it could have been better) and Corners is a song that could have used a lot of work to perfect. In the end, though, you can't go wrong with this album, a terrific starter for someone just getting into IQ. 4.5/5.

Cygnus X-2 | 4/5 |


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