Year of Release: 2002
Label: InsideOut Music America
Catalog Number: IOMA 2047-2
Total Time: 136:35:00
I actually wrote 99% of this review in January 2003, but never went back to finalize it... perhaps because there already were several reviews published... So, while I have gone through and polished it just a bit... just to remove typos and such... here it what I would have said then:
You'll see a lot of reviews of this particular title, and I don't just mean here at this site, where each of us seems to review each of their releases ? at least the latter few. So, I won't write an in depth review of this title. For a track by track examination, check out Clayton Walnum's Proglife column. Instead, just my general thoughts as I listen to this CD (for the umpteenth time).
The Flower Kings on Unfold The Future seem to me to be a quite different band than the one that released Flower Power in 1999. Not entirely different as the mainly Yes-like "The Truth Will Set You Free" can attest. This is the 30-plus minute opus that opens the first disk (yes, there are two) of the set. While it's mostly Yes, the keyboard- and guitar-lead intro sounded much more like something from early 90s Marillion ("King Of Sunset Town" in particular), though where the track goes from there is quite different ? at times, a bit Floyd-esque, mainly in the music. I do quite like the darker, chuckier second "movement" called "Primal Instincts." By the time the big chorus comes, but for the fact that Stolt doesn't sound like Anderson, this is pure, classic Yes. "Roundabout" came to mind on more than one occasion. And you can hear in here, too, how Neal Morse influenced Stolt, especially during one section of "Uphill." Later in the track, at about twenty four minutes in, there is this darkly churning section where drums rumble, percussion snicks and tocks, keys tweet and blurt, and bass muses determinedly?all where the band let loose. But, overall, it is familiar Flower Kings territory.
What will strike you about this release - though maybe not in comparison to past releases - is how every instrument can be clearly heard. Even the subtle percussive effects. This makes for a very rich listening experience and provides some depth to the recording. There is a great balance to the recording. You could listen to several times and follow each performer's path. Some especially tasty bass work from Jonas Reingold and keyboard work from Tomas Bodin. New drummer Zoltan Cs?rsz is quite impressive on the drums, accented by the previously mentioned percussion provided by Hasse Bruniusson Both Stolt and Fr?berg are fine vocal form, and, as usual, Stolt has some very nice guitar leads.
As said, this is a different Flower Kings from the past; from the funky "Monkey Business" to the one part delicate, warm, one part rocking "Black And White." Had I heard "Black And White" without knowing who it was, I don't know that I'd immediately think it was Flower Kings, even though it does a have a familiar progginess about it. Again we can hear a bit of Morse influence in the way Stolt has structured bits of this piece. A dash of ELP and something quite ? odd in there, too ? something that makes me think of RIO bands of a more humourus bent -- Miriodor, perhaps. Perhaps Zappa. There is something very cheerful about its arrangement - with keys joyfully parping, bass happily "singing" along. I imagine that as they play this happy little tune, there are beatific smiles on their faces? This kind of whimsy reappears in "Devil's Playground" on disc two, to which the sound of horns are added.
The spacey "Christianopel" begins very subtly and morphs into this arty, moody, jazz piece (and according to a recent interview with Stolt and Bodin, a jam rather than a composed piece). "Silent Inferno" is anything but "silent," as keyboard, snappy bass and drums, and sharp guitar lines drive this piece forward. The "inferno" part of the title is very apt, as we get an explosion of sound. This comes in direct contrast to "Christianopel." It throttles back only when the vocals come in. And to me, the laidback "Vox Humana" sounds a lot like Kenny Loggins' "Auld Lang Syne," which has the same mellow approach, with bright keyboards prominent in the mix.
Pain Of Salvation vocalist/guitarist Daniel Gildenl?w guests on "Fast Lane," the second track on the second disk.
"Grand Old World" has a smooth world jazz feel to it. You might think I say the first part of that due to the soprano sax of Ulf Wallander, the sound of that instrument being so identified with smooth jazz (and one particular player), and that'd be true, but the earthy drumming from Cs?rsz is another strong factor. "Soul Vortex" is another of the jams, which has a open, airy, spacey feel. A quite nice piece of atmospheric noodling. "Rollin' The Dice" is a dark, slightly sludgy art metal piece composed by Tomas Bodin. Hints of Dream Theater, but mainly of Pain Of Salvation.
The sound of warm, brassy trumpets open "The Devil's Danceshool" over a bubbling, throbbing bass and frenetic drumming. I've not determined whether they are real or samples, since there are bends, twists and turns those trumpet sounds take that just don't seem possible with a real trumpet. In the same interview mentioned above, Bodin does mention use of orchestral samples ...
And that is where the review ended... I think I can tell you that the track has stuck with me the most is "The Truth Will Set You Free"... though having just seen them play a blistering set at CalProg 2005... and this song in particular... that may contribute to that as well... Live, this track is thunderous when they get
to the big chorus. Fairly good Flower Kings album, though I think, over all, Adam & Eve has struck me more.
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
Hasse Bruniusson - percussion
Ulf Wallander - soprano saxophone
Roine Stolt - The Flower King (1994/2001/2004)
Back In The World Of Adventures (1995)
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)
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