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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

The Flower Kings

Flower Power

Review by G. W. Hill

The Flower Kings sound contains elements and leanings of the classic prog of the '70's, but is definitely still their own. Since the Stardust We Are disc, the band's writing skills seem to have matured. The music here feels much more natural and flowing. When you consider that Stardust was a fine album anyway, then you are in for a real treat with Flower Power. The first 18 tracks on disc one are all part of one long piece, nearly an hour long. The band is Roine Stolt, Tomas Bodin, Hasse Fr?berg, Michael Stolt, Jaime Salazar and Hasse Bruniusson.

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Track by Track Review
Disc 1
Garden of Dreams
Nearly an hour in length, this piece encompasses the first 18 tracks of the album. Since each section has its own name, each one will be reviewed separately.
Dawn
Beginning with sounds of an orchestra tuning up, this brief instrumental quickly begins to feel a bit like Genesis' "Watcher of the Skies". It runs directly into "Simple Song".
Simple Song
Again a bit like old Genesis, this cut is an acoustic guitar oriented movement of the piece.
Business Vamp
Continuing in a Genesisesque mode, this one goes back to the themes that remind one of "Watcher of the Skies" for a time. In many ways, if it had different vocals, this segment could really pass for Genesis of old. It does get a bit crunchier than Genesis, however, and evolves in various prog directions that are all Flower Kings. The movement crescendos, then goes down to just effects oriented keys. Choral vocals are added to this arrangement to bring the segment to its conclusion.
All You Can Save
Acoustic prog is the style of the first part of this segment. It is a pretty and emotional movement that works very well. It feels just a bit like an ELP ballad, but mostly due to the vocals. Musically, this one is closer to Genesis or Yes. "All you can save is the love that we made." The guitar solo on this movement is particularly evocative and strong.
Attack of the Monster Briefcase
Starting with keyboard dominated prog tones, this instrumental is a fast paced prog jam that is rather Genesis oriented.
Mr. Hope Goes to Wall Street
This cut really rocks. It is fast paced prog somewhat in the vein of ELP. It features some considerably quirky moments, and even a duck call. It also has some sections that seem to be in a fusion sort of vein.
Did I Tell You?
Balladic prog, this movement features some very dramatic acoustic guitar work. It has some Genesisesque moments, and also shares some territory with early King Crimson. Lyrically, this deals with the regrets of not telling someone how you feel about him or her before it is too late. The mode drops to orchestral music before switching to the next movement.
Harry Lucky
This '60's rock and roller is quite countrified.
Garden of Dreams
Playful in texture, in general this one feels like Disneyish wonderment. It does have a very Genesisish interlude before dropping into the next segment.
Don't Let The Devil In
Almost Alice Cooperish at times, this one also features a melody that calls to mind En Vogue's "Free Your Mind" song. This is high-energy prog with a great groove to it.
Love Is the Word
Soundtrack type music and sound effects begin this segment. It shifts gears then to a vocal dominated segment. This is classic prog. It switches modes and styles a lot and includes a very jazzy acoustic guitar solo and some killer bass work.
There Is No Such Night
This is a prog ballad with wonderful textures and triumphant tones.
The Mean Machine
Starting with odd elements, sound effects, laughter and operatic vocals, this segment is quite techno in nature and rather Hawkwindish. This instrumental also shares musical territory with Pink Floyd's "On The Run".
Dungeon of the Deep
Classically oriented and low toned, this is a cut that would make great soundtrack music to a sci-fi or horror film. A bit overlong, it includes chorale type vocals near the end. This is a very unusual segment.
Indian Summer
Starting off with jazzy piano based modes, this cut is Floydish. In fact, at times it feels like it could have come from "The Wall". It starts building, becoming more and more dramatic and powerful, before returning to the earlier Floydish mode.
Sunny Lane
Starting with a rather playful Genesisish instrumental segment, this instrumental becomes rather Alan Parsonsish, then ELP influenced and jazzy. After a time, it transforms into something with stronger Yesish modes and quite triumphant in texture.
Gardens Revisited
Another instrumental, this one begins pretty and dramatic. It builds from there in fusionish directions.
Shadowlands
This movement feels a bit like a cross between DT and Yes.
The Final Deal
A balladic mode, that feels a bit like GFTO era Yes brings the epic cut to its conclusion. This bit ends with ambient tones.
Captain Capstan
Strange sounds, like that of a tape starting slow, then speeding up faster and faster make up this brief instrumental.
Ikea By Night
This is a brief drum solo that serves as an intro to "Astral Dog".
Astral Dog
Midtempo music a bit like David Gilmour's solo work makes up the majority of this instrumental. It features some nice fusion based guitar soloing. The pace picks up as the cut meanders a bit. It just kind of dissolves away for a time, then becomes harder edged, almost bluesy, then again Gilmouresque with a bit of Frank Zappa thrown in for good measure.
Disc 2
Deaf, Numb and Blind
Keyboard tones begin this cut. Guitar starts to dominate in a strong and dramatic prog arrangement. It drops into an eastern styled motif, and includes some nice timing changes. Wettonish vocal work is the rule in this potent fast moving cut. It drops into a slower and more sedate segment before returning to the eastern modes.
Stupid Girl
An accessible sort of prog number, this one is good straightforward rock. It then jumps into a very fast paced prog section with some strong guitar work. The song includes a playful ending.
Corruption
The intro to this one is quite metallic, but definitely prog. The song proper is in a more stripped down mode. It takes on a nice turn with an instrumental break that really has a wonderful tone. The cut actually calls to mind Pentwater at times.
Power of Kindness
This instrumental is based on church organ types of sounds.
Psychedelic Postcard
Prog that is rather in the styles of Yes and Genesis, sort of alternating between the two, with the trademark Flower Kings sound, makes up the main thrust of this cut. It also gets a bit in the mode of Starcastle at times, and has a weird, psychedelic outro. This one just sort of drifts into the next cut.
Hudson River Sirens Call 1998
Beginning as a very weird sounding cut, the intro here is sci-fiish with operatic vocals. It starts to get more stable and coherent footing as it carries on, building up. Then it goes to more chorale type vocals, almost evil sounding, to end the piece.
Magic Pie
After a brief effects oriented segment, acoustic guitar takes the piece. This becomes a nice prog ballad with pop sensibility. It gets very emotional and dramatic as it carries on and features some great keyboard sounds and a triumphant arrangement.
Painter
Strong prog themes start this cut. It becomes more stripped down on the verse and powerful on the chorus. A bit Beatlesish at times, this one has some very strong vocals. It ends with dramatic acoustic guitar.
Calling Home
Neo classical organ work mingled with guitar begins this composition. The first verse is piano and vocals. There is a gradual building and the intensity is growing along with the complexity. As it moves into its next movement, ELPish sounds appear for a moment, then it just becomes tried and true Flower Kings prog. This one features a great jam.
Afterlife
This slowly building instrumental is Genesisish in tone.
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