Flower Kings, The - Adam & Eve


Year of Release: 2004
Label: InsideOut Music
Catalog Number: IOMCD 174/SPV 085-60892
Format: CD
Total Time: 76:33:00

What is there that needs to be said about The Flower Kings latest release Adam & Eve that we've not already said on these pages? Probably not very much, so this might be a very short review. Oh, who am I kidding?

One never really feels short changed with a Flower Kings release, mainly because each track is packed to the... petals with guitars, keyboards, drums, bass, and vocals. When you open albums with pieces that are 20-minutes long (as this album's opener "Love Supreme" nearly is) and close it with a 20-minute long piece (well, this one doesn't, but the second to last track is more than 18-minutes), you get just about as much music as most artists put on a whole album alone, and then put in a little filler. Oh... I won't say that the Flower Kings haven't padded an album a time or two, but... here, no, I can say I don't think there's filler.

It's a Flower Kings album to be sure; long songs aside, there is that characteristic Flower Kings thing about it. Epic in scope, a symphonic bed of lushness that embraces you, sucks you in and carries you along... erm, like a Venus flytrap? (Is it a flower?). And this recording is full of dynamics, giving everything a three dimensional feel. Of course, we are never too far from the Yes influences, though if you've come to know the band, you know that neither Hasse Fr?berg nor Roine Stolt (guitars) sounds like Jon Anderson. Ah, no, it's in the music that Yes can be heard - the guitar playing by Stolt mainly, and Fr?berg, and the bass of Jonas Reingold.

And they don't just do it with the long songs, but the short ones, too. Yes, there are short ones. "Cosmic Circus," another epic is an mid-tempo, somewhere between mellow and upbeat piece with an X-Files-like whistling keyboard key phrase, is only 3:00... (technically, a little longer). The keyboard phrase leads us into "Babylon," a lovely, romantically arranged instrumental, highlighting Stolt's guitar playing and Tomas Bodin's breathy keyboards that last's just a little over 2 and half minutes. "Days Gone By" is the shortest at 1:10, a classic, Gershwin-like piano interlude... well, I thought of Gershwin.

But wait, what's this? Track 4, "A Vampire's View" is not Flower Kings like at all, why it sounds like... like Pain Of Salvation. Oh sure, it's Daniel Gildenlow on vocals, but the dark moody sparseness of the song is very much POS not TFK. No truly, it's got that late 19th-early 20th Century atmosphere that Arena's Pepper's Ghost and "Don't Forget To Breathe" had. And at the risk of making yet another um... Fish comparison... there are moments here that remind me of Fish circa Vigil In A Wilderness Of Mirrors/Internal Exile. Oh... and there's some 70s soul musically here, too, that uh... well, I like it, but others might find it a bit cheesy. It's Phantom of The Opera (all versions) Jekyl And Hyde, Interview With A Vampire, Yes, ELP, King Crimson and I don't what, all blended together in this nearly nine-minute long musical soliloquy. And as much as I really dig most of this album, this is my favorite track. Go figure. Hasse Froberg, the main lead vocalist, handled this one quite well at their CalProg appearance this past June, by the way... without losing any of the quality that I like. (It bleeds into "Days Gone By").

"Adam & Eve" is the heavier rocker, a strutting, beefy piece.... and not really one of my favorites. It's an average rock song, though lifted a bit above average performance-wise. But... it seems lackluster nestled amongst all the shiny, bright pieces that surround it. "Starlight Man" is also a rocker - screaming leads from Stolt - and is the "love song" (not agape this time, romantic love). Did I say that neither Stolt nor Fr?berg sounded like Anderson? Um, well, I'll step back from that statement just a step or two, because here they come very close to Anderson's essence. Oh, you'd not confuse it for Anderson, of course, but... you'll hear something Andersonian. "Timelines" is at first seems to be another screaming - and jamming - rocker... as it starts white hot and fusiony with...um... screaming guitars, keys, pounding drums and throbbing driving bass and then... strips away all the heat for a cool, mellow, sparse, bluesy number... and still somehow manages to be epic. With Stolt's solo just about midway, you can almost imagine his studied attention to riffing in a laidback, caught up, Eric Clapton kind of way. So it begins as it ends - almost - with the quintet putting the petals (yes, petals) to the metal. The album ends with "The Blade Of Cain" an instrumental that for a moment puts keys and bass at the forefront with guitar providing accent - yes Stolt does solo here (and does so lovely) but bass and keys are still very much a part of the mix, as are the drums, though to a lesser extent. It's a near perfect balance and is a nice... coda to the album.

But the Flower Kings are in full bloom with the album's two epics. As I said, the album opens with a "A Love Supreme," an epic track in all senses of the word (is there more than one?). I'll confess, until listening to this again last night, I couldn't figure out why the lyric included something about taking the "monster's hand"... some strange love indeed, I thought. A song about King Kong and his lady love? Um... well, Adam on the cover does look a bit Neanderthalish, doesn't he? Ah, no, last night it came to me. "Master" not "Monster"... i.e., god (or God, if you're going to get picky). That kind of love, you see. Agape. (Those lyrics are a ghostly refrain at the end of "The Blade Of Cain," too). And just when you think the song is heading to its conclusion, it's really less than half over. The piece becomes more and more restrained as we glide through guitar solo after guitar solo, all balanced nicely with keyboards rising to the surface, then falling away, dynamic drum and cymbal work from Zoltan Cs?rsz (who has since left the band)... and then five minutes later, it's a brief musing bass solo from Reingold... more guitar soloing, quietly screaming organ... Then a more pastoral section with Stolt (or maybe Fr?berg) on slide guitar and vocals... I love Fr&oml;berg's emotive, bluesy delivery here in this briding section (heard once earlier on, as well). This piece goes in so many places, naturally, that if feels like you've heard a complete concept album...

"Driver's Seat" incorporates many of the textures heard earlier in the album, the spacey-sci-fi like keys, Stolt's taut, well-defined solos, lush keyboard textures, and here we get throbbing bass marching the piece forward while drums keep everything together. This piece is bouncy and a bit funky. Lyrically, there are also references to earlier pieces - but then this is a concept album in a broad sense. And, as you might expect from a Flower Kings epic, and many a symphonic prog epic, it's never really just one thing. 10-11 minutes in, we get sparse, quietly noodly guitar phrases, restating some of the lyrics of the richer passages. Driving blues rock comes next - fiery guitar solos leading the charge.

Overall, I quite like Adam & Eve. My favourite Flower Kings album? Can't say, but then I haven't decided which one is yet. Certainly there's much to enjoy about this album, much to find as typical Flower Kings, and much that is surprising. Okay, not much, just track 4... There's a lot to absorb, but when isn't there with a Flower King's album. Maybe that's why it's taken me nearly exactly a year to write my review*.

*See, without going into great detail, I was on a photography assignment for my job, which also involved some driving, and this was in the player... and that was just about a year ago this week.


Tracklisting:
Love Supreme (19:50) / Cosmic Circus (3:00) / Babylon (2:41) / A Vampires View (8:50) / Days Gone By (1:10) / Adam & Eve (7:50) / Starlight Man (3:30) / Timelines (7:40) / Drivers Seat (18:22) / The Blade Of Cain (5:00)

Musicians:
Roine Stolt - vocals, guitars
Hasse Fröberg - guitars, vocals
Jonas Reingold - bass, bass pedals
Zoltan Csörsz - drums
Tomas Bodin - keyboards

Guest Musicians:

Hasse Bruniusson - percussion and voices
Daniel Gildenlöw - guitars, voice, keys and percussion

Discography:
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)

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: August 10th 2005
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Score:
Artist website: www.flowerkings.se
Hits: 821
Language: english

  

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