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

The Flower Kings, just as unique as they have always been, have produced in Unfold The Future an album which is extremely difficult to explain. Defining what it is about The Flower Kings that makes them so good is not easy. I can talk about individual elements in their music; about the way the musicians seem to meld so well, about the intriguing lyrics, and the beguiling contemporary composition style. But it's more than that, somehow. The Flower Kings just...works.

So how to explain this album? Perhaps I could say ... take the general prog rock style of Marillion, Yes and Genesis; give it a contemporary twist; add some of the cerebral bizarrety of Pink Floyd, Porcupine Tree and Spock's Beard to give texture; sprinkle over a pinch of pure instrumental weirdness, a la King Crimson; throw in a little Frank Zappa cynicism for extra bite; and add a generous dollop of jazz. Season to taste, and mix well. Then you might have something which looks and sounds a bit like Unfold The Future.

I was a bit wary when I realised it started with a 30-minute song, "The Truth Will Set You Free"; I have nothing against such long songs, but this is a tough call for an album's opener. However, like other truly masterful prog rock symphonies - Pink Floyd's "Echoes," Transatlantic's "Stranger In Your Soul," or perhaps Genesis' "Supper's Ready" ? you really don't notice that you've been listening to the same song for half an hour. Following on its heels is "Monkey Business," a derisive little number, with cutting lyrics directed at the heart of modern human society. There are several songs on this album which feature this same biting self-mockery, such as "Genie In A Bottle," "Fast Lane," and "Devil's Playground."

The instrumentals "Christianopel" (seemingly named after their studio, Kristianopel), and "Soul Vortex" are almost random, constantly evolving pieces, which at times sound a lot like spontaneous jams (think Dream Theater's "Bombay Vindaloo," or Liquid Tension Experiment's "Three Minute Warning"). There was a nice surprise waiting for me on the second disc, which I wasn't paying much attention to the first time through. When "Fast Lane" came on, I immediately thought, "Hmm ... that's odd, Roine (Stolt) really sounds sweet in this song, almost like Daniel Gildenlöw (Pain of Salvation)." Before the verse had finished, I'd grabbed the notes and was busily flicking through to find the credits section, because either I was going crazy or that really was the angelic-voiced Gildenlöw. And yes, there was his name in the guest vocalist slot, which really made my day. He figures heavily in much of the second disc, most notably "Rollin' The Dice" and "Devil's Playground."

"The Devil's Danceschool" is a demonically-composed jazz-prog number, featuring Anders Bergcrantz on trumpet trading off riffs with bassist Jonas Reingold, who both display excellent patter-style jazz. Anders does some fairly interesting things to his tone, from the natural usage of mutes to some strange electronic note-twisting. That brings up another point - the orchestral synthesisers are so well done on this album, they sometimes fooled even me. I'm still not convinced there isn't an uncredited flautist somewhere in the making of this album. The opening to "Devil's Playground" contains a fair bit of orchestration which had me searching for the names of the musicians, although there are some telltale signs that it's probably a keyboard job. The sound is really good, though, and I'm snobby about orchestral synths. Also listen for Ulf Wallander's beautiful saxophone solos in "Grand Old World" and partway through "Devil's Playground."

I feel compelled to add that if you're not a prog rock person, this probably won't hold too much attraction for you. However, if you're a fan of any of the prog rock artists I mentioned in the opening couple of paragraphs, I'd recommend a listen.

Similar to: Yes, Genesis, Spock's Beard

[This review originally appeared July 2003 at the ProgPower Online review site -ed.

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)

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: December 14th 2004
Reviewer: Karyn Hamilton
Artist website: www.flowerkings.com
Hits: 1204
Language: english


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