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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

The Flower Kings

The Sum of No Evil

Review by Josh Turner

When I receive a Flower Kings’ album, it’s a personal event of the utmost importance. The only problem is finding a long-enough lunch, a shady tree to idle under, or a stretch of asphalt that’s sufficiently-straight. On my daily trek to and from the office, I’ve been known to circle the block while a brand-new epic completes. With one song in excess of 24 minutes and three that surpass the threshold of 12, this album will obviously not find itself enlisted among the exceptions. Yet, The Sum of No Evil requires more than a cruise in my vehicle to fully appreciate it. With all their intricate creations, you almost need to acclimate yourself to their diametrically peaceful and unruly rhythms. Ironically, but not in the sarcastic sense, the artwork shows a Volkswagen Minivan slated for an underwater realm. Take a deep breath and let it out slowly. The music takes us far from Jar-Jar’s neighborhood of Naboo and closer to the progressive vicinity of Atlantis.

From one track to the next, the score card shows six awesome numbers, and if you’ve already checked the master-list twice in anticipation; that’s the whole kit-kat-and-kaboodle from start to finish. As a longtime fan, it’s hard to choose from all their great records, but this might constitute the top dog or the big fish. While the compositions are slightly chaotic and disorganized at times, you cannot blame them for leaving no stone unturned. Jonas Reingold’s bass is so fine; it’s purer than turbinado sugar. Plus, we get great effects from Tomas Bodin’s multiple orchestral gear.

This time around, they mash the old with the new, which results in a bountiful harvest from a season that’s already been unstinted. We’re fortunate to reap what they’ve sown and then receive this unquestionably-phenomenal yield. We get the usual themes like the devil, your soul, heaven, friendship, and peace. More importantly, The Sum of No Evil equates to unconditional love and in case you’re wondering; this depiction is straight from the source. Anything bad about Roine Stolt’s voice or this LP is fighting words to me, as this goes on the erratic stack of albums that have actually given me chills. Stolt’s produced – composed and played on - an instant winner. Also, if you can believe it, a rainbow appeared as I reached my block and the last tune was in its dying breath. Thanks to The Flower Kings, this unnaturally-quirky coincidence was evidence of real magic. Now that I’ve heard The Sum of No Evil, count on me to acquire the special edition as soon as it’s available. On my way to the store, you can bet your bottom dollar that I’ll have my driving music securely loaded in the player. If you’d like to accept a gentleman’s bet, I’ll give you one guess as to which disc will be patiently taking a catnap in the slit.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2007 Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
One More Time
After the chicken farmer’s rooster hoots, we get a delicious plate of Tofurky in lieu of meat. To give us something that’s perpetually sustainable, they cull anything that’s made from animal protein or fatty tissue for that matter. This makes for a healthy commodity and a delightful article of trade. The soy patty that’s the byproduct from their plant is shipped from Turtle Island, and it’s chock-full of flavorful and insatiable items such as nuts, oats, and berries. It has all the nutritional requirements elemental to the diets of musical elitists. Plus, it goes beyond the geek-o-meter in its ability to feed nature boys, flower girls, or just about any herbivore not already covered in their market research. Whereas the remainder is busier than the bookends on Transatlantic’s Bridge Across Forever, the whimsical commencement reminds me of “The Truth Will Set You Free.” Anything fowl is abated through its grazing as the hens are uninhibited by the vastness of their boundless range.
Love Is the Only Answer
Once the second piece steps from the plank, its first and only intention is to tan. At times, it sucks up rays of happy heat. Others, it’s suspiciously waifs in the shade. Their most sinister moments cross between the dubious comforts of Paradox Hotel and the sinful gardens of Adam & Eve. When it’s not in the tranquil atrium of Stardust We Are or packed inside the crowded lobby of Unfold the Future, it’s beneath the silhouette of a serenely-orbiting Space Revolver. For such a composed piece, it really goes places. Though it’s seldom tense, it periodically finds itself conveniently poolside in the realm of the devil’s unpredictable playground. In a flash, it’s soon to earn respite. As if it cashed in a coupon for a skydiving tour, it freefalls, floats for awhile, and then strikes the ground in an everlasting burst of elation. To recoup the euphoric energy that’s been expended, we are treated to lunch, and on the menu is a fancy sandwich. Hasse Bruniusson, Ulf Wallander, Tomas Bodin put the olives and the poppy seeds in this Swedish Muffaletta. The saponaceous bread acts as a shawl to their starchy seitan. This dish has been properly served in the coldness of a studio, but it might prove to have its best delivery executed in a concert instance. As for me, I was most fatally stabbed by its killer conclusion. I must have had a smile frozen on my mouth as rigor-mortis had just begun setting in.
Trading My Soul
We finally take a vacation from the wall of sound. In doing so, we find reprieve in the form of a succinct but terrifically-distinct ballad. The track’s individuality is found mostly in the shortcuts taken to its bridges. Additionally, it has effects that mimic the chirps of bird, the cries of crickets, and the merciless clicks of cicadas. Even though this expressive piece is sprite, I would never in a million years categorize it as filler.
The Sum of No Reason
As happenstance has it, this brilliant song is aptly situated in the album’s absorbing middle. The engrossing clincher that wraps this package is the only part more appealing than its melodic introduction. The climax even outdoes the perilous thrill ride experienced two tracks back. While they prepare you for a banana peel under your heels, you’ll still slip on these greasy scales. Like the Beverly Hillbillies, somehow they manage to strike oil and gold at the same time. It’s implausible; scratch that, it’s out of this world. This is close encounters of the best kind.
Flight 999 Brimstone Air
Immediately, you will have forgotten that Zoltan Csörsz has left the building. Whatever the heuristic, this has got to be the most enterprising stock in this venture. They follow their greatest ending with the best instrumental song ever written or performed. Then again, I may have spent too much time basking in the radioactive emissions of jazz fusion. The question is not how radiant or how good, but will they be able to pull this off live? As a band that’s done right in the rehearsal room 11 times over - only to better themselves in front of salivating people - they may have finally outdone themselves and created a situation even they cannot handle. Marcus Liliequist’s drums are especially tasty; yet, this is a showcase for all involved.
Life In Motion
Like Hades, the longest underground roller coaster in the world, the escape from the tunnel only gives you a moment to catch your breath. After a climb and a turn, they drop us back on our head. On the return trip to the station, we stick to the trim of this acutely-excavated chasm. More than once, we are spun in the dark; never knowing where we’ll wind up. While the outing may have begun with an abrupt tilt into glorious limbo, the hasty braking will cause a momentary lapse in consciousness. Rather than be mad or swoon, the listener will be coo-coo after consuming the elixir they’ve administered to resolve the motion sickness. What’s more, the snack that’s washed down with the refreshment contains jolly globules of tapioca and heavenly-effervescent puffs of ambrosia. Somehow this all clocks in with a metric that computes to strangely-successive integers. Roine Stolt and Jonas Reingold play so well together. Their synergy reaches full-strength in the culmination of this musical tempest. Before time runs out, the final notes that they share are similar to that crucial knot pulled taught in a friendship bracelet.
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