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IQ - The Wake CD (album) cover

THE WAKE

IQ

 

Neo-Prog

3.79 | 526 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

siLLy puPPy
4 stars After the rushed debut album "Tales From The Lush Attic" which turned out brilliantly albeit not to the band's satisfaction, the band spent a lot more time and money on their follow-up THE WAKE which was indeed riding the new wave of 80s progressive rock that they, Marillion and Pallas were ushering in to revive a sub genre of rock that was experiencing an increasingly decrease of listeners and at this time was only being kept on life support by the hardcore proggers of the day. All this special attention was particularly paid to fine tuning more accessible sounds and song structures that helped THE WAKE hit the market and become the only album of their lengthy discography to enter the UK album chart albeit for only one week and peaking at a mere #72. However the tides were clearly turning as the new neo-prog movement had taken root and with albums like THE WAKE and Marillion's "Misplaced Childhood" that was released at the same time, it was clear that a revival was taking place and the momentum was increasing after every new release.

THE WAKE is a concept album where each track is based on the psychological traumas that haunt the soul of a recently deceased man, who after having passed away recounts his earthly existence ("The Outer Limits") and laments the unfolding events in a state of regret and remorse ("The Wake"). He begins to see an illuminating light in front of him ("The Magic Roundabout") but fears the consequences of going near it so he decides to hide in the nooks and crannies of limbo while he works out his anguish ("Corners"). As he reflects on his physical life that he has recently left, he focuses primarily on his relationship with his wife ("Widow's Peak") and after an adequate amount of self-reflection he becomes enlightened and understands that the unfolding tale of his experiences in the physical plane were necessary for spiritual growth ("The Thousand Days"). He ultimately comes to peace with it all, leaves the dark crevices of limbo and heads back to the light ("Headlong").

Musically this is a much more diverse album than "Tales From The Lush Attic." While there are still progressive lengthy tracks here, the musical style relies more in pop-infused hooks that incorporate synthpop aspects of the era especially with the programmed sounding drums on "Corners," a trait that would carry on the following two albums where the band abandoned much of its progressive qualities in favor of more accessible material. THE WAKE certainly stepped up IQ's compositional fortitude as far as distancing themselves from the Marillion comparisons of the debut. While the Genesis connections are still in full force with Banks- esque keyboards, Hackett inspired guitar runs and the face-painted theatrical Gabriel flair of lead vocalist Peter Nicholls, the compositions are beginning to sound uniquely theirs thus expanding the neo-prog style in their own direction that they would continue to steer down their own progressive highway.

While i don't find this release to be my absolute favorite of the lot i have to give it credit for its accomplishments and pleasant listenability. If you happen to like this one a lot more than i do, you may even consider splurging on the four disc 25th anniversary edition completely remastered which contains rare videos, demos, a double sided poster and a 60-page booklet with every possible thing under the sun about this album. For me, i'm happy just having this simple original version sans bonus tracks and letting the original music as intended stand on its own two feet which presents the tale of a soul struggling to make sense of his life that didn't work out exactly the way he had hoped. Lyrically an interesting concept that slaps us with concepts of unknown afterlife experience and musically another evolutionary step up the symphonic prog rock arena.

siLLy puPPy | 4/5 |

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