Image © Giant Electric Pea 2000
(30 November 2003) The latest release by Britain's IQ is a six track project entitled The Seventh House (GEP (UK) GEPCD 1028, 2000). It is, by our count, the fifteenth album by the group. For those just discovering IQ, the band is currently comprised of Martin Orford (keyboards, backing vocals), Paul Cook (drums, percussion), Michael Holmes (guitars, guitar synthesiser, keyboards), John Jowitt (bass, backing vocals), Tony Wright (sax) and Peter Nicholls (lead vocal, backing vocals). All players contributed to Martin Orford's Classical Music and Popular Songs (review).
IQ's sound on The Seventh house will remind some of latter day Landmarq. Pieces contain reasonably complex progressive passages with dramatic tempo and other textural changes between the movements. Such is the case with the opening number "The Wrong Side Of Wierd," and over 12-minute track that illustrates the depth and breadth of the band's talent. We especially enjoyed the interplay of progressive keyboard and guitar solos within the symphonic arrangements and Peter Nicholls various vocal textures.
Soundtrack textures weave in and out of the arrangements of the symphonic progressive track "Erosion." The vocal production quality is stunning, evocatively rising above the orchestral keyboards and developing guitar-based foundation and various solo excursions of this stadium style rocker. The epic 14+ minute title track ("The Seventh House") continues to illustrate Nicholls' virtuousity, and the band's as well, particularly in the production quality of the arrangement from the acoustic introduction to the thick and melodic mid-section. Instrumental solos within the track are especially reminscent of riffs played by Argentina's Nexus (review).
"Zero Hour" is a somewhat shorter but no less complex number. Keyboard washes perfectly compliment lead vocal and acoustic guitar melodies that blend perfectly with the instrumentals that include one of Tony Wright's saxophone solo during a bridge between two of the song's movements. The reprise of the opening melody includes a killer guitar solo.
The virtuousity of the band is clearly demonstrated in the range of textures presented in "Shooting Angels," a stadium style rocker that develops from humbler opening foundations.
Crisp percussion and thick bass perfectly compliment the melodic guitar and keyboard in the arrangements never overpowering Nicholls' lead vocals. The dynamic guitar and sax solos are also notable. The album concludes with "Guiding Light," which opens as a lovely ballad with allusions to Asia's sound, accompanied by acoustic guitar, piano and various keyboard washes. The rocking IQ texture--with vast electric guitar and keyboard solos--continues to develop as the track moves towards the glorious vocal passage that concludes the number.
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IQ's The Seventh House, their fifteenth album is a great symphonic progressive album. Even without female vocals it should be explored further!