Martin Orford - Classical music and popular songs - 2000
Avalanche of IQ material. Together with the launching of Dirtbox, solo project of John Jowitt, we must add the release of the video and CD of "Subterranea live" and, of course, of the premiere in solitary of Martin Orford with this "Classical music and popular songs". In this case, Martin has been less risky than John and has wanted to bet on a winning horse. He has put together ten compositions that the fans of IQ and progheads in general will like, along with deluxe collaborators. Amen of having the collaboration of the whole lineup of IQ and of Jadis, the CD also has Tony Wright's participation (sax in "Subterranea"), Dave Kilminster (John Wetton Band) and of that same Wetton. With these actors it is very difficult to make a bad movie.
A beautiful folk melody with flutes and mandolin is the beginning of the first piece of the CD "The Field of Fallen Angels" (6.26). Quickly the topic becomes a hard piece with enough blinks to Rush and with big interventions of Martin to the keyboards and of Jowitt to the bass. The final part of the piece is simply impressive. A great beginning. "A part of me" (5:14) is sung by Wetton and it could fit perfectly in the first or second LP of Asia. The song would not have nothing else of special if it was not for the brilliant solos of keyboards and guitar, courtesy of Orford, Kilminster and Chandler. "Quilmes" (3:02) is a wonderful instrumental in a classical mood played to the piano by Orford full of sensibility and romanticism. There are no words. As a curiosity, it was composed at the end of the 70´s and Martin played it during his stay in the Wetton Band. "The days of our lives" (6:15) is a beautiful ballad with a lot of feeling that reminds from the solo work of Wetton. Orford displays an excellent voice and we must highlight the work from Wright to the sax and, mainly, the great guitar solo of Chandler.
"Fusion" (5:05) is another of the best moments in the CD. Composed during the stay of Orford in The Lens and with the participation of Mike Holmes to the guitar, the piece is simply tremendous and it combines clearly progressive elements of the 80´s with typical Baroque scales of bands like Pär Lindh Project. "The final solution" (5:59) is a piece with a very marked rhythm and that IQ used to play in a glamor medley in their shows. A correct topic but it doesn't fit too much with the rest of the CD, it would have been better included in "The lost attic" as a curiosity. "The picnic" (1:21) is a short and beautiful instrumental of crazy acoustic guitar for Orford that precedes to another moment of great interest for the fans of IQ: "The overload" (5:30), sung by Peter Nicholls and should have been included in "Subterranea". A great piece that would not have been out of tune in IQ and that offers us all the emotional intensity and instrumental capacity of which these Englishmen are capable. "Tatras" (5:30) is the studio version of the instrumental piece that had in the live CD of Wetton "Nomansland". Obviously in this case the piece is arranged with all kinds of classic elements (flutes, synthesizers) that give it a film air of great beauty. The last song is "Evensong" (5:09) in which its calm melodies of orchestrated synthesizers transport us to the English countryside. Chandler contributes an inspired guitar solo and when the music ends the sensation is the one of having listened to a very good work.
Surprisingly, and if I guide myself for my bizarre personal taste, I like more "Uneasy listening" of Jowitt for its risk when attacking new sounds and styles but I must recognize that Martin has known how to create a great CD that won't defraud any fan of progressive rock. Big music, great musicians and all the necessary to make this CD a pleasure. I would love Orford to continue releasing this kind of solo material. The only negative of the CD is the title.