IQ – Frequency

“Frequency” is the latest album by old-school prog veterans IQ. While they’ve never been very prolific, this being only their ninth album in a career that stretches back more than a quarter of century, everything they’ve released in recent years has been consistently good.

From the opening Mellotron chords of the title track onwards,  the sound is still quintessential IQ; pure 80s neo-prog, ten-minute songs in strange time signatures featuring swirling keyboards, lengthy solos, melodramatic vocals and often impenetrable lyrics. While their fusion of Gabriel-era Genesis with bits of Pink Floyd, Van der Graaf Generator and King Crimson has never been spectacularly original, over the course of 25 years and nine albums they’ve honed their big near-symphonic sound to perfection, and this album is at least as good as anything they’ve ever done.

One thing you can’t accuse them of is a lack of tunes; even though the lengthy songs often lack conventional hooks or choruses Peter Nicholls has a great gift for hauntingly memorable melodies. And this being prog, the instrumentalists are just as important as the singer – new keyboard player Mark Westworth proves himself more than capable of filling the shoes of the recently-departed Martin Orford, and guitarist Mike Holmes contributes some superbly fluid solos.

As with most prog albums, this is a complex work that takes many listens to fully appreciate. The title track and the poverfully intense “Ryker Skies” make the most immediate impact, but after repeated plays the lengthy “The Province” emerges as the album highlight.

“Frequency” doesn’t break any new ground, but I don’t think anybody really expects or wants them to at this stage in their career. And if they’re not very original, they do what they do so well that it doesn’t matter.

This entry was posted in Music, Record Reviews and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to IQ – Frequency

  1. Mike Bowstead says:

    One of the things I like about the album (and it’s something IQ have always done, since ‘The Wake’ if not earlier) is that, though it’s apparently not a ‘concept’ album as such, there are musical cross-references between different tracks. For example, a bit of ‘Life Support’ appears in the middle of ‘The Province’, and there’s a pre-echo of ‘Closer’ in ‘Stronger Than Friction’. To my mind this sort of thing helps to give an album a sense of unity and overall structure rather than just being a collection of songs.

    And actually I think the lyrics on ‘Frequency’ are somewhat more penetrable than earlier IQ albums. (Which is not necessarily a good thing!)

    Overall I still think ‘Dark Matter’ has the edge over it though.

  2. Abilio Abreu says:

    I agree very much with your review of this album. I had listened to previous IQ records and, although it was evident that they were excellent musicians, their compositions always seemed to lack originality and refinement, different to their counter-parts Marillion. But “Frequency” made me change my mind a lot about this band. For me, the melodies and arrangements on this album are superb, much more subtle and as pop as it can get without spoiling the progressive part of it. I say pop in a sense that the melodies stick to your brain like glue… SO you want to keep listening to it all day long! I’ve watched the live DVD that accompanies the cd and, man, they are just as perfect in concert. The singer is just amazing, although he has some akward stage presence, but it all fits perfectly for the genre. And the band is top notch, very experienced musicians who know what they do. Of course I’m now backtracking IQ’s past discography and beginning to like it all very much. I think IQ will keep growing and refining, just like a good bottle of wine…