IQ
(see also: Arena, Jadis, Martin Orford)


IQ Live


| Discography
Seven Stories into Eight (1982)
Tales from the Lush Attic (1983)

Nine in a Pond is Here (1985)

The Wake (1985)

Livng Proof (1986)

Nomzamo (1987)

Are You Sitting Comfortably? (1989)

J'ai Pollete D'Arnu (1991)

Ever (1993)

Subterranea (1997)

Seven Stories into 98 (1998)

Forever Live (2000)

Subterranea: The Concert (2000)

The Seventh House (2001)

Compilations/Other Recordings
The Lost Attic
(1999)
| More Info
| Profile

County Of Origin: England
Established: 1981

Styles: Symphonic, Neo


| Reviews

Biography

IQ was one of the defining and best bands of the neo-progressive rock movement in the early 80s.  Like many of their contemporaries, they combined the omnipresent Genesis influence with a hard-edged and powerful sound.  There is a perception of 80s progressive as being somewhat streamlined and watered down for popular acceptance, and there definitely is some truth to that.  However, what made IQ distinctive, and better than their peers, was an unparalled complexity, depth of composition and tremendous individual virtuosity that truly carried the torch of progressive music into the 80s.

There first two proper albums, Tales From The Lush Attic and The Wake are among the very finest progressive rock albums released in that decade.  IQ is also one of the few bands that I know of that managed to save themselves from the brink of musical inconsequence and actually returned to creating vital progressive rock after extended flirtation with commercial music through the latter 80s.  Even the best progressive bands either broke up (Gentle Giant), continued to suck (Genesis), or tried unsuccesfully to pull off such a return to form (Yes).  However, IQ's most recent recordings Ever and the double-album, Subterranea, are considered by many of their fans to be even better than their seminal early 80s work. - Greg Northrup [2001]



Tales From The Lush Attic (1983)Tales From The Lush Attic (1983)

IQ's debut is the perfect bridge between the classic symphonic sound of the 70s, and the more straight ahead 80s neo-prog. As with most neo bands, the omnipresent Genesis influence is evident, yet IQ is able to stand above the pale imitators and forge a solid sound all their own. They assault the listener with a strong sense of melody, complex hard rock and plenty of emotion to create an emotional sound.  Unlike their contemporaries, IQ has a great sense of song writing, and is able to create long "epic" pieces without sounding contrived. The best example of this would be "The Last Human Gateway", a 20 minute piece composed of smaller passages that move seamlessly into each other.  My one complaint with this song is the nonsensical first full minute of silence before the first keyboard melody is heard, which is quite unnecessary and annoying.

Another element that sets the band apart from their neo-prog brethren is that they were extremely competent musicians who were able to create complex pieces in the vein of early Genesis, but without the commonly watered down approach.  They were essentially the punks of the prog world (take a peek at some pictures of the band from this period) who threw a hard edged rock sound into the symphonic mix.  Martin Orford's use of both digital keys, synths and mellotron produce a unique amalgamation and perfectly bridge 70s and 80s prog, with particularly strong use of the mellotron chorus that helps the pieces to their emotional climax.

All tracks of the album proper are excellent, and showcase the band's ability to carry the listener through an assaulting journey of symphonic rock, with few moments to relax between the fury of emotional playing, and the powerful vocals of Peter Nicholls, whose representational lyrics carry us through a lyrical odyssey.  Just like any great album, it leaves you wanting more. - Mike Prete [December 2001]

Click Here for Tracklist and Lineup Info




The Wake (1985)The Wake (1985)

The Wake sees IQ continuing down the path of dark symphonic neo-prog, while starting to incorporate new elements into their sound without forsaking their roots.  However, this album certainly sounds much more like a product of the 80s than it's predecessor. Taking the dark emotion of Tales From The Lush Attic one step further, The Wake is considered by many fans to be IQ's crowning achievement.  I tend to  prefer the previous album for its consistency compared to this one. There are a few moments where the band starts to drift down the commercial path.

"Corners" is typical 80s cheese, with drum machines and pseudo-reggae vibe, along with sitar that never ceases to make me cringe. "The Thousand Days" on the other hand combines progressive rock with pop leanings to much better effect. The standout pieces here are the epic "Outer Limits" and "Widow's Peak", the best of IQ with the fierce energy the band is used to displaying along with their excellent sense of melody, composition and dynamics. Of particular note here is the bonus track "Dans Le Parc Du Chateau Noir", which is just as strong as any other piece on the album and begs one to ask the question of why it was not included on the album and only released as a single.

This is another strong effort from the leading band of the neo-prog genre, and is easily recommended to fans of the first album, or of the band's latter renaissance. Easily recommended. - Mike Prete [December 2001]

Click Here for Tracklist and Lineup Info



Ever (1993)Ever (1993)

IQ's 1993 album Ever is often regarded as one of, if not the best, neo-progressive album of all time.  While that certainly qualifies as a somewhat dubious distinction, IQ are genuinely head and shoulders above the pack as far as power, complexity, grit and sheer songwriting ability.  IQ were one of the first wave neo-progressive groups back in the early 80s, along with Marillion, Pendragon and Pallas, and released a neo-masterpiece with their debut, Tales from the Lush Attic.  That album, in my opinion, still stands as the single greatest achievement of the entire subgenre.  After their second album, The Wake, lead vocalist Peter Nicholls departed, and the band proceeded to release a series of AOR-ish stinkers throughout the remainder of the decade.  That is, until 1993.  Ever features the reintroduction of vocalist Peter Nicholls, and a return on the part of IQ to their classic progressive past.  It's certainly a triumphant return at that, and surpasses even The Wake as the rightful successor to the classic Tales...

In comparison to their earlier stuff, the band sounds much more refined and mature.  There is less of the raw, punk-ish naiveté of their first two albums.  The sound is much more streamlined, production-wise as well as compositionally.  The band's Genesis influences are certainly still prominent, especially with the return of Nicholls.  Still, his voice is less rough than it used to be, sounding more trained and mature, fitting in with the seemingly more professional approach from the band as whole.  The band's sound is still quite accessible, and like most neo, places a huge emphasis on melody along with a hard-driving, rockish rhythmic feel.  Highlights include "The Darkest Hour", which contains some utterly superb passages, as well as the epic "Further Away", certainly one of the most complex pieces they've ever done.  Other songs don't excite me as much, particularly "Out of Nowhere", which is pretty much just a straight ahead rocker.

Ever easily makes the legions of amateurish neo bands, content to subsist on laughable cliché, look like absolute saps.  While certainly not the most original album in the world, it really doesn't seem to matter with IQ.  One doesn't get an intentionally derivative vibe from them at all.  Any Genesis similarities seem incidental and are actually pulled off well enough to render to point moot.  Ever easily stands as one of the four or five best neo-progressive albums ever, surpassed only by Marillion's early work and their own Tales from the Lush Attic. - Greg Northrup [August 2001]

Click Here for Tracklist and Lineup Info




Subterranea (1997)Subterranea (1997)

A sprawling double concept album spanning over one hundred minuets, Subterranea is often lauded by many to be either one of IQ's finest moments, or somewhat of a disappointment in not having enough punch over its extended length. In the grand tradition of long concept albums like The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway, there is quite a lot of material to absorb here, while also following a lyrical concept (and a somewhat obtuse one at that). Continuing upon the same musical path of their previous release, Ever, this is a much more refined and polished work, and at times coming off somewhat sterile. The dark and epic symphonic pieces could easily benefit from a little more bite.

The compositions seem as if they were designed more to propel the story line along, rather to stand out on their own, and at times can sound somewhat indistinct if not following the lyrics. As I don't always pay attention to them, I can sometimes find my attention drifting during the many atmospheric passages that buffer the vocals. Although there are times where an instrumental bit will come to the fore and start to pick things up, as is the case with the short ending piece to disc 1, "State of Mine". Some of the longer pieces also work better on their own, such as the title track and "Failsafe", which both emphasize the elements that have made IQ successful: a solid dynamic mixture of driving rhythms and riffs, and keyboard breaks that always shift and turn with out losing their epic feeling. The epic "The Narrow Margin" that ends the album takes all of these into account, providing a great climax to the album.

The sheer length of the album seems to be a stumbling block for many, including myself. While there are some classic IQ moments, the overall product is weighed down by pieces that serve to advance the story rather than add to the musical content. For those looking to check out recent IQ material, a more concise album such as Ever or The Seventh House would be more palatable before tackling Subterranea. - Mike Prete [March 2002]



The Lost Attic (1999)The Lost Attic (1999)

A collection of rare tracks recorded between 1983 and 1999, The Lost Attic brings together bits and pieces of the band's history that never made it on an album proper for one reason or another, some previously unreleased altogether. Pieces such as "Wintertell", "Hollow Afternoon" and "Barbell Is In" date from the earliest formation of the band, "The Bold Grenadier" and "Fascination" with Paul Menel on vocals, while the majority of the other pieces were recorded during the nineties. The excellent packaging contains a detailed booklet, with information on each song, plus commentary from the band explaining the origin of each piece.

"N.T.O.C. (Resistance)" is a prime outtake from the Ever period, originally released on an SI compilation disc. Instrumentally driving and furious, with powerful vocals, this is IQ at their best. The real standouts of the album are the three closing tracks taken from a 1984 BBC radio session. Dripping with raw power and emotion, these tracks show the band at their live peak. The version of "Widow's Peak" would easily eclipse it's album counterpart, if not for the only very good sound quality here.

As can be expected from a collection of this nature, not everything here is a winner. Some pieces are just demos, and others just aren't as strong as the material on the albums. For the most part though, there is a wealth of interesting pieces for the established IQ fan, but I wouldn't suggest this as an introduction to the band. - Mike Prete [December 2001]

Click Here for Tracklist and Lineup Info




The Seventh House (2000)The Seventh House (2000)

IQ have always possessed a great sense of dynamics which has aided in their ability to write extended pieces that flow effortlessly. The Seventh House wastes no time in putting this theory to the test, opening with the epic "The Wrong Side of Weird" which flows through different tempos and moods. From the outset, you can tell you're in for something a little different on this album, with the rock content heavier than before. With Martin Orford spending time writing his solo album, Mike Holmes and John Jowitt handled the majority of the writing duties for this album, and have left their more heavy handed stamp on the compositions.

The Seventh House harkens back to 1993s Ever, showing the band's more mature and polished compositions. As always, there is no shortage of great melodies or frenetic passages that will have the listener flailing along playing some sort of air instrument. The title track brings all these elements together in the perfect package, opening with a beautiful ballad backed by the additional texture of acoustic guitar, segueing into crunching guitars and great instrumental sections, alternating with Nicholls' strong delivery of his oblique lyrics and stories. "Guiding Light" is a standout track in similar fashion, but with a stronger presence from Orford. If you have heard IQ before, then you know what to expect here: solid melodic progressive, with no shortage of rock. - Mike Prete [December 2001]


[ Back:: | 'I' Reviews | Reviews Page | Main Page | © 2000-2013, The Giant Progweed
[If you have come to an individual page, please click here for frames]