[ KEY REVIEWS | SHORT REVIEWS | DETAILED REVIEWS
Tracklist: 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 2) 5:32 All tracks written & arranged by Michael Holmes & Martin Orford, except lyrics on 5 by A. McKenna. Line-up: Michael Holmes (of IQ) - electric, acoustic, & bass guitars; additional keyboards Martin Orford (of IQ) - keyboards, & piano; flute; vocals With: Paul Cook (of IQ) - drums & percussion Guest musician: Tony Wright - saxophone on 5 Produced by Michael Holmes. Recorded & mixed by Rob Aubrey at "Nomansland" studios, New Forest, England.
Prologue. This week I am going to investigate the roots of IQ, which in my view (by no means only, though) is one of the most significant acts in the history of Progressive Rock. (Just look back at the first half of the 1980s to understand that.) In the very beginning, they were named The Lens. This band existed from 1976 to 1981 and featured both of IQ's founding members Mike Holmes and Martin Orford. Quite honestly, it is difficult to regard it differently than the very first incarnation of IQ. According to The Lens's press kit, the CD "A Word In Your Eye" features new recordings, which catalogue Mike and Martin's earliest writing collaborations.
The Album. First off, it needs to be said that, with the exception of Childhood's End (track 5), "A Word In Your Eye" is featured with the completely instrumental compositions. For the most part, the album was created within the frame of a unified stylistics, which on the whole is nothing else but Classic Art (Symphonic) Rock. However, a few of the tracks here are slightly different than the others by varied parameters. Two of the tracks, On Stephen's Castle Down and Shafts of Light (tracks 3 & 4), were performed without drums. The first of them is filled with diverse, classical and kind of medieval, passages of an acoustic guitar and flute, and interplay between these instruments as well. This is a brilliant piece and one of the best of the acoustic symphonic instrumentals I've ever heard. The other, Shafts of Light, consists of fluid interplay between chords of keyboards and solos of electric and bass guitar, is a mellow and rather accessible piece. However, it could be the excellent intro for the following track if only it wouldn't have been used as a separate composition. Structurally, all of the other tracks on the album are in many ways similar to each other, though the album's opener Sleep Until You Wake is the most accessible among them. (In fact, this is the only Neo composition on the album.) Although Childhood's End (5) is the only track here, which, apart from the other arrangements, contains vocals and solos of saxophone, it is on par with all of those six tracks that make "A Word In Your Eye" one of the best Classic Symphonic Art-Rock albums of 2001. Choosing a Farmer (both parts), Frost & Fire, Of Tide & Change, From the Sublime, and already the said acoustic gem On Stephen's Castle Down (tracks 2, 9, 6, 7, 8, & 3 respectively). All of these compositions represent a very effective, true Classic Art-Rock (or Symphonic Progressive, if you will), full of essential progressive ingredients such as rich and always intriguing arrangements (with a degree of complexity from moderate to high); frequent and often unexpected changes of tempo and mood, etc. Contrasting interplay between slow, fluid solos of an electric guitar and fast synthesizer solos, enriched with the accompaniment of a powerful rhythm-section; interchange with beautiful low passages of an acoustic guitar and piano, and the other instruments as well. The special sound effects, which accompany the arrangements from time to time, create a very moody atmosphere, which was typical for most of the early masterworks of the genre. All of it, raised to the power of the excellent musicianship, is typical for each of those six of the most diverse compositions on the album that I've mentioned above. Four of them: Childhood's End, Frost & Fire, Of Tide & Change and the second part of Choosing a Farmer (tracks 5, 6, 7, & 9), but especially the latter two, are genuine masterpieces of Classic Progressive Rock. Recalling the complexity and stylistic peculiarities of Genesis's best (in my view) instrumental Los Endos from "A Trick of Tail" album and you'll get an idea of what these compositions are, on the whole, about.
Summary. I've been very pleased while listening to such a nostalgic album as "A Word In Your Eye", sound of which as if links the old 'n' gold 1970s to the present time. Yes, the Genesis influences are obvious on most of the tracks of this album, as well as in the early creation of IQ in general. Though even then they were one of a few of the true followers of that great band. I always say that influences have nothing to do with the imitations. Also, they are not opposed to the originality, which is especially clear with regard to the quick development of IQ's own, really solid sound. In clothing, The Lens's "A Word In Your Eye" is a very successful album and I highly recommend it to most of you (you know who you are!).
VM. January 28, 2002
Giant Electric Pea Ltd online:
Labels of Prog ["Giant Electric Pea Records"] on ProgressoR
Interviews of Prog [Martin Orford] on ProgressoR
[ KEY REVIEWS | SHORT REVIEWS | DETAILED REVIEWS - LIST | BANDLISTS ]