Flower Kings, The - Space Revolver

Year of Release: 2000
Label: InsideOut
Catalog Number: IOMCD062/SPV 085-41222 CD
Format: CD
Total Time: 75:04:00

The productive unity of the Flower Kings is back with a single studio album, the writing of which was started before the Transatlantic recording and which features new member, bass player Jonas Reingold. The sound of the album is still very much the Flower Kings yet the band has widened its horizons by adding some interesting sidesteps such as jazz and Zappa-esque interventions.

The large epic "I Am The Sun" is spread over two parts, part one, which opens this album, and part two, which closes the album. This must be the 25 minute song which Roine told us about during the interview session for Transatlantic. What strikes me is the joyful atmosphere of the song courtesy of those wonderful keyboard sounds of Tomas Bodin. On the guitar front, Led Zeppelin's "Kashmir" riff is never far away, whilst the vocal melodies of Hasse Fr?berg nicely intertwines with Roine's acoustic guitars and the mellotron in the background. Towards the end of the song the band steers towards freejazz, even including a snippet of "I Left My Heart In San Fransisco' as proof of their everlasting feel for humor. The jazz element goes even further during the dreamy "Dream On Dreamer" featuring some outstanding saxophone and great bass playing to match. This rather short lullaby ends in true fashion with a musical box.

Don't know if the band watched the Rumble Fish movie and/or if they listened to Stewart Copeland's soundtrack for the same film, but "Rumble Fish Twist" really cooks, not in the least because of the percussive efforts from Jaime Salazar and the interesting keyboard sounds from Tomas. The highlight here certainly has to be the fretless Pastorius-like intervention from Jonas Reingold! This song sort of evolves in a direction which could easily have the name Happy The Man all over it.

It's mellotron, tubular bells and harp in the intro for "Monster Within" before some fierce guitar and laughter out of a horror movie take you to the other side of the musical spectrum. In fact, the build up of this song together with Hasse's weird way of singing makes us think of the late Frank Zappa. But then Tomas opens his box of tricks including some superb organ playing, whilst of course Roine adds his skills too. Wicked!

The Flower Kings are one of the few current bands whose musical ideas certainly don't dry up. Proof of this is the constant flow of double CDs plus a fan club only full-CD. "Chicken Farmer Song" is proof of their progressing way of songwriting, resulting in a very happy song with some outstanding vocal harmonies, reminding us of some of the better Yes moments from their Time And A Word period. Needless to say the rest of the arrangement tries to evoke Yes as well. Great Howe-like guitars all around!

The combination of Celtic pride by means of bagpipes, and slide guitar and Bach trumpets that sneak in the backdoor, means "Underdog" results in pure chaos. "You Don't Know What You've Got" (until it's gone) is a laid-back song based on acoustic guitar and vocal harmonies and with added mouth organ as an interesting bonus. This is the kind of song which can go on and on if there's a sudden powercut during concerts!

"Slave To Money" opens with a military rhythm before Tomas Bodin gets some National Health sounds out of his keyboard arsenal just prior to changing the atmosphere by means of a wonderful barrel organ and xylophone. Salazar then cuts the snares from his drum kit in order to steer the sound in the direction of legendary band England (remember Jode Leigh who worked with Roine Stolt on the New Grove Project?). Roine then performs a very bluesy solo, almost in authentic Gary Moore style. The number of changes taking place in just one song is truly amazing! That same bluesy guitar style together with some harder riffs is all over the place during "A King's Prayer" which nicely melts into the second part of "I Am The Sun." This one opens with yet some more tasty mellotron and acoustic guitar and folky, storytelling vocals. It results in a song that could easily be placed on the album Bilbo, the joint venture between P?r Lindh and Bj?rn Johansson. Towards the end the music changes towards vintage Close To The Edge era Yes on top of which Jonas Reingold once again demonstrates his skills on the bass.

Although the Flower Kings have released some outstanding albums in the past it is clear to me they have delivered their very best with Space Revolver. If this is the result of the new line-up then can we hope for these people to stick around as long as they possibly can because this music is truly what the current wave of prog rock should be about: innovative, crisp and contemporary! There's also a limited edition digipack of this release boasting a 36-page booklet but no extra disc, as was the case with Transatlantic. However I do wonder what happened to "Exit Dominus"?

This is what Roine Stolt had to say about the new album:

Wherever you may wander on this record, you'll find a band that has deliberately but gracefully carved out its own piece of the prog pie, an effect that can only come from a lifetime [of] looking at all of rock's passionate creators. I started listening to bands like Frank Zappa and the Mothers in the mid-'60s.Vanilla Fudge, The Doors, Jimi Hendrix ... that's what I consider to be progressive rock. For most people today, progressive rock is ELP, Genesis, Yes, and King Crimson. But for me, progressive rock includes jazz rock and fusion like Mahavishnu Orchestra, Weather Report and a lot of psychedelic bands from the late '60s and that's the way I like to view Flower Kings. Of course we're influenced by Yes, King Crimson and Genesis but on the other hand we are equally influenced by The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, guitar-driven rock like Cream, as well as all the fusion stuff from the '70s, Billy Cobham, Weather Report. I'm also a big fan of musicals like Andrew Lloyd Webber's stuff, West Side Story and other theatrical and soundtrack compositions. For me it's all music and that's what we're trying to get across within this band. Don't look at it as art rock or whatever. Just approach it with an open mind and hopefully you will get something out of it. In the true spirit of progressive, look at it as an unpredictable adventure.

Also released by Inside Out Music America (IOMACD 2014)

Links: interview w/Roine Stolt, New Grove Project

I Am The Sun (Part One) (15:03) / Dream On Dreamer (2:43) / Rumble Fish Twist (8:06) / Monster Within (12:55) / Chicken Farmer Song (5:09) / Underdog (5:29) / You Don't Know What You've Got (2:39) / Slave Ot Money (7:30) / A King's Prayer (6:02) / I Am The Sun (Part Two) (10:48)

Roine Stolt - guitars, vocals, keyboards
Tomas Bodin - keyboards
Hasse Fröberg - voices
Jonas Reingold - bass
Jaime Salazar - drums, percussion
Hasse Bruniusson - percussion, voices

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: Progressive Rock

Origin SE

Added: July 1st 2000
Reviewer: John "Bobo" Bollenberg

Artist website: www.flowerkings.se
Hits: 1122
Language: english


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