IQ - Frequency

IQ - Frequency

7 songs
62:00 minutes
***** ****
GEP / InsideOut

Bandpage

Next to Marillion and Pendragon, IQ can be considered the third band in the triumvirate that invented neo progressive rock. Releasing a few albums on a major label in their early career, the lack of success made them switch over to Giant Electric Pea, an independent label suited much better to their music.

In the past I never really got into their music, but for fairness’s sake, I have to admit that the last time I listened attentively to one of their albums was more than ten years ago. Entering the music world with a first cassette album in 1982, they never had the busiest releasing schedule, so that Frequency is only their tenth album, coming five years after Dark Matter.

On the surface, their music seems quite tame, but apart from the slower One Fatal Mistake which is only five minutes long, the band treats us with long, intricate compositions that unravel their genius only after repeated listening. IQ are always best whenever their songs clock in at at least eight minutes, and title track that opens the album is already a perfect example of their modus operandi. Peter Nicholl’s vocals are quite theatrical, drawing comparisons to a young Peter Gabriel. The band supports him with an amalgam of modern melodic prog rock that doesn’t shy away from ancient synth sounds, giving the music a welcome warm atmosphere. Other highlights include Stronger Than Friction (11 minutes), Ryker Skies (10 minutes) and The Province, with nearly 14 minutes the longest track on the album.

Whereas Marillion soon became commercial and then maybe a tad too experimental, and Pendragon were always too soft for my taste, IQ manage perfectly to craft magic long tracks full of wonder and amazement. With probably the best rhythm section of the progressive world (bassist John Jowitt and drummer Andy Edwards also play in the great if underrated Frost*), they never get lost in muddled meanderings, instead recreating the amazing drama that made progressive rock such a wonderful music in the first place. It’s only astonishing that after nearly three decades in the business, they are still able to come up with such an incredibly fresh sounding album full of engaging compositions.

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