IQ – The Wake

1985(cd release 1988 Sahara)

1: Outer Limits (8:14)
2: The Wake (4:11)
3: The Magic Roundabout (8:19)
4: Corners (6:21)
5: Widow’s Peak (9:13)
6: The Thousand Days (5:12)
7: Headlong (7:30)
Bonus Track:
8: Dans Le Parc Du Chateau Noir (7:40)

Besides Marillion IQ is considered to be the most important exponent when it comes to the rise of neo-prog in the eighties. Their albums “Tales From The Lush Attic” (1983) and the here reviewed “The Wake” (1985) are true classics.

That status I gave it, after given “The wake” only one spin. What an impact! In my case it’s the first acquaintance with the band’s music. For me the sight of the imaginative green cover is actually an indication that this record is going to be great. When I purchased their debut album “Tales From The Lush Attic” shortly after, I was as happy as a little child.

Over the years I’ve been able to appreciate the largo, bombastic sound IQ produces, a sound where the bass pedals and the mellotron chords form sort of a healing layer, if you will.

Within the bandsound there’s always something happening, the dynamic nuances are there regularly. With IQ you’ll hear the guitar reverberate, the bass is everywhere in between and the keyboards sound penetrating. It all comes with the necessary virtuosity that can be heard in the many solo’s , synchronous riffs and the many tempo and mood changes. The decisive drumming and the intense vocals finish it all off.

On “The Wake” that translates into seven songs, as far as the original album goes. On all cd-releases that appeared afterwards are bonus tracks, including invariably the epic Dans Le Parc Du Chateau Noir. But, first things first.

“The Wake” starts with the whirling Outer Limits, that is after a stoic bass synthesizer theme excitingly complemented by all kinds of keyboards, before the band sets in. Full of conviction the band takes you away, the irregular time signatures sound flexible, the transitions are surprising. The sudden piece of barok music is typical Martin Orford and don’t you dare to say this comes out of nowhere. With the riff from the intro this song comes to an end, to be followed almost immediately by the bombastic titletrack. The drums sounds bulky and the singing is passionate. Imaginary you see the adrenaline gushing from the speakers. The Magic Roundabout is another extremely successful piece of progressive beauty. It is the magnificent track with beautiful fretless bassguitar, pounds of mellotron in the choruses and a sublime guitarsolo in the end. The following Corners is a song that always raises question marks. In this blistering song Mike Holmes uses a choral sitar guitar and tablas, because of that the song sounds like world-music and that is a bold move. With the epic Widow’s Peak IQ becomes absolutely immortal. The moment of extreme mellotron outbreak can be regarded as the keypoint of the album. IQ presents itself so majestically here, they can only top this themselves. With the catchy The Thousand Days the band moves towards the more accessible side. They do a good job here, but their heart is obviously with progressive rock². Closing track Headlong can be placed within that category. So far the original album.

The above mentioned bonus track, the somewhat older Dans Le parc Du Chateau Noir, lets you hear the compositional progression the band made with The Wake. Especially the last few chords are needlessly complicated, in my opinion. The end of the song is full of IQ-delicacies like the lovely guitarsolo at the end.

I think I quiet like this record.

Paul Cook: drums
Tim Esau: bass, basspedals
Mike Holmes: guitar
Peter Nicholls: vocals
Martin Orford: keyboards
Harun: tablas (4)

© Dick van der Heijde 2022