The Lens - A word in your eye - 2002
Twenty five years ago -more or less- a group of guys named Mike Holmes, Peter Nicholls y Nial Hayden met themselves in a queue for Genesis tickets. These guys decide to form a band which was to be called The Giln. Later on they changed the name to The Lens and, after some lineup changes, came a new member who changed entirely the concept and sound of the band: Martin Orford. Finally Martin and Mike decided to give up that spacey music they played (and as we´ll see they didn´t do it very well) and create a band which was to be called IQ.
In "A word in your eye" Martin (keyboards, flute and vocals) and Mike (guitars and bass) records again some tracks of The Lens along with other musicians such as Paul Cook (drums) and Tony Wright (sax); that is, XXI century IQ records again songs composed by the band´s germ in the 70´s. Undoubtedly, and before I begin talking about the music, this CD is a very interesting document. But we must take into account that, although the musicians are now maestro's, all the tracks were composed when they were a fistful of rookies who tried to blend different influences. The gear (arrangements) is very good but... what about the rest?.
The album begins with a nice track "Sleep until you wake" (7:11). Typical early 80´s neoprog with electric guitar arpeggio's, lots of keys and a melodic guitar solo. "Choosing a farmer (part 1)" (8:09) begins with acoustic guitar and a gentle percussion. The song develops with a great guitar solo wrapped by a round bass. There are lots of changes and climax. The acoustic guitar returns in a nice intermezzo just before the ending guitar solo. A good track. A very good track. "On Stephen´s Castle down" (2:26) is a soft and pastoral track with flute, acoustic guitar and little birds singing. It doesn´t hurt and is very beautiful but simple too. Worse are "Shafts of light" (2:52), an atmospheric track very boring and "Childhood´s end" (5:51), a song with the protagonism of Tony Wright´s sax bringing tastes of Mediterranean jazz a la Pegasus. The rhythm and the keyboards vintage sounds along with the sax provide a sound absolutely out of style. The second part of the song, sung by Orford is slow and has electric pianos and filtered vocals. Much better is "Frost and fire" (6:26), in which after two minutes the track acquires speed remaining me to Oldfield´s "Punkadiddle" followed by great keys and guitar solos. Only three minutes of high quality but they´re very good. "Of tide and change" (8:56) is one of the best tracks of the album. Instrumental neoprog at its best. Clear sound, melodic guitar solos, deploy of keyboards arsenal and all of those elements we enjoyed with during the eighties. The track has a nice interlude with flute followed by a quiet and colored part. Intensity grows until the track acquires the strength enough to finish with an amazing guitar solo. In "From the sublime" (6:38), and after two minutes of pure atmospheric boredom (space rock wasn´t made for these guys) a shy reverberated guitar begins to sound making variations in front of synths and sound effects. The last ninety seconds show us more infantile space rock. As a curiosity "Choosing a farmer (part 1)" (5:31) is the germ of the final part of "Widow´s peak". Very good song and it has a great value for the fans.
To be sincere "A word in your eye" only has documentable value for those who want to know the musical roots of one of the most important bands in the history of progressive music. There are four great tracks and some gleams here and there, but the rest of the songs were composed by very young musicians who, in those times, had to mature
IQ fans: go for it without excuses; those who don´t know IQ and want to know their music (are there any?): I don´t recommend it to you because it doesn´t offer a global vision of the music of this amazing band; of course King Crimson, Hammill, or RIO fans, stay apart.