Flower Kings, The - Unfold The Future

Year of Release: 2002
Label: InsideOut Music America
Catalog Number: IOMA 2047-2
Format: CD
Total Time: 136:35:00

Over the years our Swedish Flower Kings friends have created a certain sound, a certain identity which has people lookout for that particular sound on every single release. With the arrival of bass player Jonas Reingold on the wonderful Rainmaker album, the band stepped slightly aside from this kind of "blueprint" sound, introducing some jazzy sidesteps. With Unfold The Future, the band now also fully introduces Zoltan Csörz on drums and because he is also heavily into jazz, no doubt Jonas and Zoltan are having a field day on this new double disc. Roine Stolt wasn't looking for a new Back To The World Of Adventures or Flower Power, so any new and daring ideas were more than welcome. Needless to say, Jonas and Zoltan introduced a healthy dose of new elements into the music which came at the right time for the band. On top of that new injection, singer Hasse Fröberg has never sang as good as he does on this album. On previous albums it sometimes sounded as if he wasn't able to reach the high notes at ease but here it's like listening to another singer. It's that good and fresh. By adding the well established Tomas Bodin and leader Roine Stolt, the Flower Kings we are listening to right now is a completely new band, with new ambitions which translates itself more towards great unconventional music than towards massive sales.

The first disc immediately kicks off with the longest track on the package. With its 30:40 playing time, "The Truth Will Set You Free" is an album in itself, containing tons of influences and changes. Especially due to the thick Rickenbacker sound of Jonas and the often superb vocal harmonies this track gets very close to vintage Yes, so people who have been waiting for a Close To The Edge sequel might be very pleased to listen to this song. One major surprise certainly is the wonderful vocals of Hasse Fröberg who seems to be much more at ease than ever before, resulting in an almost completely different timbre. When he delivers a high pitched vocal, Jon Anderson is never far away. And the Yes resemblance goes even further when Tomas Bodin introduces some superb church organ, which is like a part of "Awaken" getting the Flower Kings treatment! "Monkey Business" is a completely different kettle of fish with a more direct, funky result. Roine sings "I'm not a loser anymore," which, in my honest opinion, he has never been since day one, because if Stolt had been born in England or the States he'd been a star many moons ago! In "Black And White" some weird Zappa-esque elements are combined with Kit Watkins-like keyboard playing. If you thought this song went too far from the FK roots then wait until you've heard "Christianopel" which in a way holds the same level of improvisation as the third movement on the Yes double spread Tales From Topographic Oceans: "The Ancient ? Giants Under The Sun." This certainly is more of a treat for the true musician rather than the "static" listener resulting in Weather Report meets Sun Ra and beyond. The first true statement of the newborn Flower Kings where jazz rules! This experiment fuses into the bombastic sympho rocker "Silent Inferno," which sports a decent number of drum breaks before resulting in a Latino/Santana feel. "The Navigator" is kind of a song I see Roine singing whilst sitting on his children's bed when it's time for them to go to sleep. The kind of lullaby feel is augmented by some sparse mellotron sounds from Tomas. Disc one ends with another fragile highlight called "Vox Humana," one of Roine's favourites. The song immediately starts with a great catchy melody which is then used by Hasse again adding superb singing to this outstanding album.

Disc two opens very fiercely with the powerful "Genie In A Bottle." Based on a rather simple rock rhythm the song also includes some bluesy slide guitar but also some deep bassoon sounds. The song also gives opportunity for Roine to include an authentic rock approach on guitar whilst Bodin sees the possibility to attack his synths in a weird way. "Grand Old World" is regarded by Roine as being the Sting song on the album not in the least because of the inclusion of saxophone and the laidback atmosphere of the song. It certainly doesn't fit with the rest of the album but then again isn't that what TRUE progressive is all about? The acoustic bass from Jonas gives the song the dimension it really needs and together with the subtle percussion sheds a different light over the capacities of our beloved Flower Kings. This approach even goes further during the daring "Soul Vortex," which once again highlights the new rhythm tandem Jonas and Zoltan. I'm not that fond of "Rollin The Dice" because Hasse sings a little in the "independent rock" style at times, which doesn't do the arrangement any good, resulting in my least favourite of the package until the final piano piece which is a nice example of authentic ballet music. In "The Devil's Danceschool" it's as if Miles Davis is visiting our Swedish friends adding some great trumpet to yet another Jonas/Zoltan dominated track. This track once again illustrates the strength these guys have in the field of improvising because no doubt this song could go on for at least half an hour should they wish it to do so. Another simple yet wonderful song certainly has to be "Solitary Shell," which is mainly based around a great vocal melody, piano and strings: the perfect illustration that you don't need layer upon layer of overdubs!

Just like bookends, this double Flower Kings treat begins and ends with a real epic. This second disc comes to an end with the 24:30-long "Devil's Playground," which once again contains tons of influences and atmospheres all neatly tucked away under the FK blanket! Once the rhythm starts, it's as if Anekdoten has joined forces adding an atonal feel to the music. A little further into the song PoS singer Daniel Gildenlöw adds some great backing vocals getting close to vintage Pink Floyd. Then suddenly the feel of the music becomes rather sombre, introducing a brass section which delivers a medieval feel first, but then switches towards avant-garde outbursts. In "Devil's Playground" there's a constant question-answer situation between rock and jazz, between outlined scales and improvised sections, between a live feel and a studio encounter, in other words: the best of both worlds! Now isn't that what true prog should be all about? Fusing elements from all over the musical spectrum in order to create and deliver something sparkling and fresh, something new all along. If you thought you knew what Flower Kings was all about wait till you hear this album. Take the time, put the phone off the hook, put your voicemail on, barricade your house, sit back, relax and let the Flower Kings Unfold The Future!

Also released by InsideOut (IOMCD 112/SPV 089-65392 DCD)

Disc One: The Truth Will Set You Free (30:40) / Monkey Business (4:20) / Black And White (7:40) / Christianopel (8:30) / Silent Inferno (14:25) / The Navigator (3:15) / Vox Humana (4:30)

Disc Two: Genie In A Bottle (8:10) / Fast Lane (6:35) / Grand Old World (5:10) / Soul Vortex (6:00) / Rollin The Dice (4:15) / The Devils Danceschool (3:45) / Man Overboard (3:40) / Solitary Shell (3:10) / Devils Playground (24:30)

Roine Stolt - vocals, guitars, keyboards
Hasse Fröberg - vocals
Jonas Reingold - Fender bass, fretless bass
Zoltan Csörsz - drums
Tomas Bodin - Grand piano, keyboards

Guest Musicians:

Hasse Bruniusson - percussion
Ulf Wallander - soprano saxophone

Roine Stolt - The Flower King (1994/2001/2004)
Back In The World Of Adventures (1995)
Retropolis (1996)
Stardust We Are (1997/2000)
Scanning The Greenhouse (comp) (1998)
Edition Limitée Quebec (1998) (only 700 copies!)
Flower Power (1999)
TFK fanclub disc (2000) (free CD exclusive to fanclub members only)
Alive On Planet Earth (2000)
Space Revolver (2000)
Space Revolver Special Edition (2CD set) (2000)
The Rainmaker (2001)
The Rainmaker - Special Edition (2001)
Unfold The Future (2002)
Live In New York: Official Bootleg (2002)
Fan Club CD 2002 (2002)
Fan Club CD 2004 (2004)
Adam & Eve (2004)
BetchaWannaDanceStoopid (2004)
Harvest (fan club CD) (2005)
Paradox Hotel (2006)
The Road Back Home (2007)
The Sum Of No Evil (2007)
The Sum Of No Evil (Special Edition) (2007)
Banks Of Eden (2012)
Roine Stolt's The Flower King - Manifesto Of An Alchemist (2018)
Waiting For Miracles (2019)

Meet The Flower Kings - Live Recording (DVD) (2003)
Instant Delivery (DVD) (2006)
Instant Delivery - Limited Edition (2CD/2DVD) (2006)

Genre: Symphonic Prog

Origin SE

Added: October 20th 2002
Reviewer: John "Bobo" Bollenberg

Artist website: www.roinestolt.com
Hits: 1722
Language: english


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