The Power of IQ
IQ is a neo-prog band founded by guitarist,Mike Holmes, and keyboardist, Martin Orford, in 1981. They were one of a wave of British bands formed at that time including Marillion, Twelfth Night, Pendragon, Pallas and Solstice, to continue the tradition of progressive rock from the previous decade. Although IQ’s early albums had shades of early Genesis, especially in the vocal delivery and grandiose keyboards, they were always much more than just derivative, and continued to forge their own unique style.
From 1982 the line-up consisted of Peter Nichols (vocals), Mike Holmes (guitar), Martin Orford (keyboards), Paul Cook (drums) and Tim Esau (bass).
Despite a number of dizzying line-up changes the band has continued to this day, still releasing album masterpieces.
Their debut album, Tale From the Lush Attic (1983) included a 20 minute epic The Last Human Gateway that became a blueprint for many of the epic pieces that have followed.
The Wake (1985) remains one of their classic albums and fan favourites. Following the release of this album, Peter Nichols left to be replaced by Paul Menel. During this period, until Nichols’s return in 1990 the band followed a more commercial, pop sound. However with Nichol’s return they returned to their prog roots releasing Ever In 1993.
Subterranea (1997) was a highly ambitious double cd album that was lauded by both critics and fans alike. It follows the complex story of a man who’s been imprisoned his entire life under sensory deprivation as a kind of experiment. At the beginning of the album he is either released or escapes and we follow the narrative as he attempts to get to grips with his sudden sensory overload as he embarks on a series of desperate adventures. Eventually the story comes full circle. The main character retreats from this world and he returns to his former world of isolation. The music is powerful, melodic and complex and well worth the time required to invest in it. A number of outstanding albums have followed: The Seventh House (2000), Dark Matter (2004) — check out Mike Holmes guitar work in the epic Harvest of Souls, Frequency (2009), The Road of Bones (2014) and Resistance (2019).