Tag Archives: progressive rock

The Flower Kings–A Million Stars

The Flower Kings launch new single “A Million Stars” from upcoming album ‘By Royal Decree’Photo: Lillian ForsbergProg icons The Flower Kings recently announced the release of their 15th studio album ‘By Royal Decree’, set for March 4th, 2022.  Now, the band are pleased to share the second single from the album “A Million Stars”.

Roine comments: “Never to shy away from simple melody, this is The Flower Kings at their more accessible end, but still with a trademark TFK sound and symphonic textures.”

Watch the video here: https://youtu.be/k0RiSF1Lwac‘By Royal Decree’ Tracklisting
1.The Great Pretender (6:55) 
2.World Gone Crazy (5:04) 
3.Blinded (7:45) 
4.A Million Stars (7:11) 
5.The Soldier (5:23) 
6.The Darkness In You (5:13) 
7.We Can Make It Work (2:48) 
8.Peacock On Parade (5:15) 
9.Revolution (5:59) 
10.Time The Great Healer (6:12) 
11.Letter (2:25) 
12.Evolution (4:47) 
13.Silent Ways (5:01) 
14.Moth (4:31) 
15.The Big Funk (4:39) 
16.Open Your Heart (5:17) 
17.Shrine (1:08) 
18.Funeral Pyres (7:14) 
 
‘By Royal Decree’ will be available as Ltd. 2CD Digipak,
as Ltd. 180g 3LP+2CD Box Set as well as Digital Album.
 
You can pre-order the album now here:
https://theflowerkings.lnk.to/ByRoyalDecree

Listen to the album’s first single “The Great Pretender” here:
https://youtu.be/03NFABil4yoThe band are back at their most creative, flowery and playful – mirroring the 70’s melting pot of folk, symphonic, electronic, jazz, blues, funk & prog. On the new album they have looked for more organic and vintage sounds, still centered around the foundation of drums, bass, guitars and the iconic Hammond, grand piano, mellotron & Moog synthesizers.
 
The album also sees the return of founding member Michael Stolt, who takes up bass guitar and vocals, alongside the line-up of Mirko DeMaio on drums, Zach Kamins on keyboards, Hasse Fröberg on vocal & guitar and Roine Stolt on vocal & guitars and Jonas Reingold on bass. The band convened in the middle of 2021 at Fenix Studios in Sweden to record through the fully analogue Rupert Neve mixing desk. The album also features beautiful cover art, once again created by Denver-based artist Kevin Sloan.
 
Next year’s tour will also see the band revisiting their early years, performing tracks from ‘Retropolis’, ‘Stardust We Are’, ‘Flower Power’, ‘Space Revolver’ and ‘Back In The World Of Adventures’. This will coincide with the release of newly remastered editions of The Flower Kings albums on CD & Vinyl later in 2022. The first confirmed live dates are as follows:
 
30th March 2022 – Katalin, Uppsala, Sweden
31st March 2022 – Musikens Hus, Gothenburg, Sweden
1st April 2022 – Södra Teatern, Stockholm, Sweden
1-7th May 2022 – Cruise To The Edge, USA
11th May 2022  – TBA, Quebec City, Canada
12th May 2022  – TBA, Montreal, Canada
14th July 2022  – Rootsfestival, Notodden, Norway
4th Sept 2022  –  HRH Festival , UK
 THE FLOWER KINGS online:
https://www.roinestolt.com/
http://www.facebook.com/TheFlowerKings
https://www.instagram.com/roinestolt8112/
https://www.facebook.com/pale.rider.127

INSIDEOUT MUSIC online:
www.insideoutmusic.com
www.insideoutmusic.store

www.youtube.com/InsideOutMusicTV
www.facebook.com/InsideOutMusic
www.twitter.com/InsideOutUSA
http://spotify.com/progrockessentials

Spirit of Cecilia Radio Progcast 1

This is the first of our Spirit of Cecilia Radio Progcasts, episode one–featuring music by Big Big Train, The Flower Kings, Galahad, IZZ, The Bardic Depths, Kevin McCormick, NAO, No-man, Wobbler, and The Tangent. All songs used by kind permission of the artists/labels.

And, with the fiery and enthusiastic commentary of Dave Bandana, Brad Birzer, and Tad Wert.

Among our topics: how much we miss David Longdon (RIP); if the Flower Kings are diverse in their musical offerings; if disco can be prog; just what the number 42 is about; if The Tangent simply rocks; what kinds of instruments Wobbler uses; how McCormick, NAO, and No-man owe something to Mark Hollis of Talk Talk; and just how much we love prog.

Enjoy!

New Video from the Flower Kings

The Flower Kings share new single “The Great Pretender” from upcoming album ‘By Royal Decree’Photo: Lillian ForsbergProg icons The Flower Kings recently announced the release of their 15th studio album ‘By Royal Decree’, set for March 4th, 2022.  Now, the band are pleased to share the first single from the album “The Great Pretender.” The album is now available for pre-order.
 
Check out the new track here:
https://youtu.be/3IyGvwYhvTY‘By Royal Decree’ Tracklisting
1.The Great Pretender (6:55) 
2.World Gone Crazy (5:04) 
3.Blinded (7:45) 
4.A Million Stars (7:11) 
5.The Soldier (5:23) 
6.The Darkness In You (5:13) 
7.We Can Make It Work (2:48) 
8.Peacock On Parade (5:15) 
9.Revolution (5:59) 
10.Time The Great Healer (6:12) 
11.Letter (2:25) 
12.Evolution (4:47) 
13.Silent Ways (5:01) 
14.Moth (4:31) 
15.The Big Funk (4:39) 
16.Open Your Heart (5:17) 
17.Shrine (1:08) 
18.Funeral Pyres (7:14) 
 
‘By Royal Decree’ will be available as Ltd. 2CD Digipak,
as Ltd. 180g 3LP+2CD Box Set as well as Digital Album.
 
You can pre-order the album now here:
https://theflowerkings.lnk.to/ByRoyalDecreeThe band are back at their most creative, flowery and playful – mirroring the 70’s melting pot of folk, symphonic, electronic, jazz, blues, funk & prog. On the new album they have looked for more organic and vintage sounds, still centered around the foundation of drums, bass, guitars and the iconic Hammond, grand piano, mellotron & Moog synthesizers.
 
The album also sees the return of founding member Michael Stolt, who takes up bass guitar and vocals, alongside the line-up of Mirko DeMaio on drums, Zach Kamins on keyboards, Hasse Fröberg on vocal & guitar and Roine Stolt on vocal & guitars and Jonas Reingold on bass. The band convened in the middle of 2021 at Fenix Studios in Sweden to record through the fully analogue Rupert Neve mixing desk. The album also features beautiful cover art, once again created by Denver-based artist Kevin Sloan.
 
Next year’s tour will also see the band revisiting their early years, performing tracks from ‘Retropolis’, ‘Stardust We Are’, ‘Flower Power’, ‘Space Revolver’ and ‘Back In The World Of Adventures’. This will coincide with the release of newly remastered editions of The Flower Kings albums on CD & Vinyl later in 2022. The first confirmed live dates are as follows:
 
30th March 2022 – Katalin, Uppsala, Sweden
31st March 2022 – Musikens Hus, Gothenburg, Sweden
1st April 2022 – Södra Teatern, Stockholm, Sweden
1-7th May 2022 – Cruise To The Edge, USA
11th May 2022  – TBA, Quebec City, Canada
12th May 2022  – TBA, Montreal, Canada
14th July 2022  – Rootsfestival, Notodden, Norway
4th Sept 2022  –  HRH Festival , UK
 THE FLOWER KINGS online:
https://www.roinestolt.com/
http://www.facebook.com/TheFlowerKings
https://www.instagram.com/roinestolt8112/
https://www.facebook.com/pale.rider.127

INSIDEOUT MUSIC online:
www.insideoutmusic.com
www.insideoutmusic.store

www.youtube.com/InsideOutMusicTV
www.facebook.com/InsideOutMusic
www.twitter.com/InsideOutUSA
http://spotify.com/progrockessentials

Troika’s First Video, JULIA


Nick D’Virgilio, Neal Morse & Ross Jennings share first single and video for “Julia” from debut albumNick D’Virgilio (Big Big Train, ex-Spock’s Beard), Neal Morse (Transatlantic, NMB, ex-Spock’s Beard), and Ross Jennings (Haken, Novena) are pleased to announce their debut album titled ‘Troika’ will be released on Feb 25th, 2022.  The album is now available for pre-order here:
https://dvirgiliomorsejennings.lnk.to/Troika
 
Today, the band is also sharing the album’s first single “Julia”.  You can watch the video by Christian Rios here:
https://youtu.be/Y31eVTnMIxIRoss had this to say about the track:
“With my original demo clocking in at around the 8-minute mark and possibly leaning too close to ‘prog epic’ than the singer/songwriter vibe we were attempting to present on this record, Neal arranged my lengthy ballad into something more concise, in-keeping with the album’s essence and writing in a powerful new chorus in the process! 
 
“This one was all about the 3-part vocal harmony interplay and ‘pull-at-the-heartstring’ lyrics which deals with themes of regret and forgiveness in the context of a broken father-daughter relationship.”
– Ross JenningsTracklisting:
1.Everything I Am (5:43)
2. Julia (6:07)
3. You Set My Soul On Fire (3:22)
4. One Time Less (4:53)
5. Another Trip Around The Sun (4:39)
6. A Change Is Gonna Come (4:24)
7. If I Could (4:02)
8. King For A Day (5:47)
9. Second Hand Sons (4:43)
10. My Guardian (3:43)
11. What You Leave Behind (4:16)
 
‘Troika’ will be available as Ltd. CD Edition / Gatefold 2LP+CD / Digital Album. Each format includes a bonus alternative version of the track ‘Julia’ and is available for pre-order here: https://dvirgiliomorsejennings.lnk.to/TroikaRecorded during lockdown, the process began with Neal Morse writing some acoustic songs that he thought would be enhanced by strong vocal harmonies. He already knew how well his voice blended with former Spock’s Beard band-mate and Big Big Train drummer/ vocalist, Nick D’Virgilio who came on board and, considering a third man, the Americans sought out Haken’s Ross Jennings from the UK to complete the trio. All three found they had songs that would benefit from the three part harmonic blend, and so they pooled their resources, inputting creatively into each others compositions.
 
Neal comments: “What a great pleasure it’s been to work on this album with these amazing artists! It was kind of funny… We had been working on the songs remotely for several months before I finally heard all of us singing together at the same time. The first time I brought the faders up, I knew we had the magic!“
 
Nick adds: “I’ve known and worked with Neal for over 30 years and I’ve been a big fan of Ross and the music he makes for a long time. I felt confident right away that this would be a fun project to be a part of. I was so right.”
 
Ross comments: “Receiving ‘The Call’ from Neal to participate in this project was somewhat of a prayer answered… As a long time fan of their work, I’ve been singing along to Neal’s & Nick’s records for years, so it felt really natural for my voice to slot right in.”
 
The tracks took shape with the musicians recording all of the music and vocals separately, yet the eclectic performances burst with the energy and excitement of the collaboration. Acoustic anthems, charged rockers and sensitive ballads are all part of the mix, and the unique blend of Ross, Neal and Nick’s voices and styles have created an album in which you will encounter these musicians in a way you’ve never heard before.D’Virgilio, Morse & Jennings ONLINE:
https://www.facebook.com/ndvofficial/ 
https://www.nickdvirgilio.com/ 
https://www.instagram.com/ndvirgilio/ 
https://twitter.com/NDVmusic
 
https://www.facebook.com/nealmorse/ 
https://twitter.com/nealmorse 
https://www.instagram.com/neal_morse_official/
 
www.rossjennings.co.uk
https://www.instagram.com/rossjenningsofficial/ 
https://www.facebook.com/rossjenningsofficial
https://twitter.com/RossWJennings
INSIDEOUT MUSIC online:
www.insideoutmusic.com
www.youtube.com/InsideOutMusicTV
www.facebook.com/InsideOutMusic
www.twitter.com/InsideOutUSA
www.insideoutmusic.store
Spotify Prog Rock Playlist

Big Big News From Big Big Train!

BBT 2021

Hot on the heels of BBT’s magnificent Common Ground album comes this announcement of another new album! In the case of Big Big Train, you really can’t have too much of a good thing, so this is welcome news:

Big Big Train – announce new album ‘Welcome to the Planet’

New single “Made From Sunshine” out now

 

Six months after the release of the critically acclaimed album ‘COMMON GROUND‘, Big Big Train are pleased to announce a new album ‘WELCOME TO THE PLANET’, due out on January 28th, 2022 on their own label, English Electric Recordings.

Big Big Train founder Gregory Spawton explains the short time between albums: “The experience of the pandemic has shown us that we need to make the best use of our time on Earth. With that in mind and with new band members on board giving us a fresh head of steam, we decided on a speedy return to the studio to write and record Welcome To The Planet.”
 
As with ‘COMMON GROUND’, ‘WELCOME TO THE PLANET’ sees Big Big Train retain their progressive roots but also take influence from all spheres of music. The album’s opener ‘Made From Sunshine’, co-written by guitarist Dave Foster and singer David Longdon, has guitar lines redolent of Johnny Marr and vocal harmonies reminiscent of the Finn Brothers/Crowded House, with violinist Clare Lindley sharing lead vocals with Longdon.

Elsewhere on the album, keyboard player Carly Bryant gets her first Big Big Train writing credit and lead vocal on the captivating title track. The two recent singles ‘The Connection Plan’ and ‘Lanterna’ are included along with a winter themed song ‘Proper Jack Froster’, a bittersweet tale of childhood. The album is completed by the delicate acoustic ‘Capitoline Venus’, the beautiful ‘Oak And Stone’ and a pair of dazzling instrumentals, ‘A Room With No Ceiling’ and ‘Bats In The Belfry’, written by guitarist/keyboardist Rikard Sjöblom and drummer Nick D’Virgilio respectively.

You can listen to “Made From Sunshine” here: 

Here is the track listing:

BIG BIG TRAIN ‘WELCOME TO THE PLANET’
 
Part One
Made From Sunshine
The Connection Plan
Lanterna
Capitoline Venus
A Room With No Ceiling
 
Part Two
Proper Jack Froster
Bats In The Belfry
Oak And Stone
Welcome To The Planet

For their March 2022 UK tour, which will be their most extensive to date and which will culminate with a show at the prestigious London Palladium, David Longdon (lead vocals, flute), Nick D’Virgilio (drums, vocals), Rikard Sjöblom (guitars, keyboards, vocals), Greg Spawton (bass), Carly Bryant (keyboards, guitars, vocals), Dave Foster (guitars) and Clare Lindley (violin, vocals) will be joined by a five piece brass ensemble. In addition to two further UK shows in September, the band expects to announce North American and continental European tour dates shortly.

UK TOUR MARCH 2022 TICKETS ON SALE NOW AT 
https://myticket.co.uk/artists/big-big-train

NMB: “Bird on a Wire” Video


NMB (Neal Morse Band)– release video for “Bird On A Wire” the second single from ‘Innocence & Danger’NMB are set to release their much-anticipated fourth studio album ‘Innocence & Danger’, on August 27th, 2021. Today, the band are pleased to share the video for “Bird On A Wire”, the second single taken from the upcoming album.
 
Watch the video for “Bird On A Wire,” created by Christian Rios, here
https://youtu.be/Bse9D2yhkwAMike Portnoy says this about the track, “This was the 2nd song we wrote for the new album’s sessions. The main riff & groove stemmed from an idea Randy George brought in and the chorus was something Bill had…and the intro and middle shred riffs were Eric’s…another truly collaborative effort!”
 
Watch the video for the album’s first single “Do It All Again” here:
https://youtu.be/PiNt_kQvoag
 
Watch a clip from “The Making of Innocence & Danger” here:
https://youtu.be/piRaLvCPbQI 
‘Innocence & Danger’, featuring artwork by Thomas Ewerhard (Transatlantic), will be available as:
• Limited 2CD+DVD Digipak (featuring a Making Of documentary)
• 3LP+2CD Boxset
• Standard 2CD Jewelcase
• Digital Album

Pre-order now here:
https://thenealmorseband.lnk.to/InnocenceAndDanger  Tour dates for NMB – ‘An Evening of Innocence & Danger’ are on sale now
across US and Europe here:
https://www.nealmorse.com/2021/06/18/nmbtourdates/
 USA 2021
 
Oct 8th & 9th – Cross Plains, TN – Morsefest 2021
Oct 12th – Seattle, WA – The Triple Door
Oct 14th – St Charles, IL – The Arcada
Oct 15th – Pontiac, MI – The Crofoot Ballroom
Oct 16th – Ft Wayne, IN – Pieres
Oct 17th – Cleveland, OH – The Beachland Ballroom
Oct 19th – Glenside, PA – The Keswick Theater
Oct 20th – Baltimore, MD – Soundstage
Oct 21st – Boston, MA – The Sinclair
Oct 22nd – New York City, NY – The Sony Theater
 
Europe 2022
 
May 28th – Madrid, Spain – Teatro Kapital
May 29th – Barcelona, Spain – Apolo
May 30th – Milan, Italy – Live Club
May 31st – Pratteln, Switzerland – Z7
June 2nd – Tilburg, Netherlands – 013
June 3rd – London, England – Shepherds Bush Empire
June 4th – Paris, France – Trianon
June 5th – Esch Sur Alzette, Luxembourg – Rockhal
June 7th – Cologne, Germany – Live Music Hall
June 9th – Brno, Czech Republic – Sono
June 10th – Krakow, Poland – Studio Club
June 11th – Warsaw, Poland – Progresja
June 13th – Hamburg, Germany – Markthalle
June 15th – Copenhagen, Denmark – Amager Bio
June 16th – Gothenburg, Sweden – Pustervik
June 17th – Oslo, Norway – Cosmopolite
June 18th – Stockholm, Sweden – Lilla Cirkus

***
With NMB’s previous two releases being concept albums, it’s perhaps remarkable that Innocence & Danger is a series of unrelated songs, but drummer Mike Portnoy says “After two sprawling back to back double concept albums in a row, it was refreshing to get back to writing a collection of unrelated individual songs in the vein of our first album.”
 
Indeed, making this album came easy to the band; while the initial inspiration came particularly from Bill Hubauer (keyboards) and Randy George (bass), the ideas flowed from everybody from there on, as George recalls: “I am excited about the level of collaboration that we achieved on this one. We even went in with a lot of ideas that weren’t necessarily developed, and I think in the end we have something that represents the best of everybody in the band.”
 
In fact – like its two acclaimed predecessors – Innocence & Danger is a double album by inspiration, rather than design, as Portnoy explains: “As much as we wanted to try and keep it to a single album after having just done two double albums, we wrote so much material that we found ourselves with our third double album in a row! That’s pretty prog!”
 
There is also plenty in Innocence & Danger to excite those prog fans who have a thirst for epics, as Neal Morse explains: “There’s one half hour epic and another that’s about 20 minutes long. I really didn’t realize that they were that long when we were recording them, which I guess is great because if a movie is really good, you don’t realize that it’s three hours long! But there are also some shorter songs: some have poppier elements, some are heavier and some have three part acoustic sections. I’m excited about all of it, really.”
 
NMB (Neal Morse Band) is
Neal Morse (vocals, keyboards and guitars)
Mike Portnoy (drums, vocals)
Randy George (bass)
Eric Gillette (guitars, vocals)
Bill Hubauer (keyboards, vocals)NMB ONLINE:www.facebook.com/The-Neal-Morse-Band
www.instagram.com/thenealmorsebandofficial
www.twitter.com/nealmorseband1

INSIDEOUT MUSIC online:www.insideoutmusic.com
www.youtube.com/InsideOutMusicTV
www.facebook.com/InsideOutMusic
www.twitter.com/InsideOutUSA
InsideOutMusic.Store
Spotify: Prog Metal Playlist
Spotify: Prog Rock Playlist

Big Big Train’s Apollo

Big Big Train release new instrumental single ‘Apollo’
Track taken from forthcoming album Common Ground due out July 30th
“Apollo” is the second track to be taken from Big Big Train’s forthcoming album ‘Common Ground’ due out on July 30th, 2021 on English Electric Recordings. The new album, recorded during the worldwide pandemic, sees the band continue their tradition of dramatic narratives but also tackles issues much closer to home, such as the Covid lockdowns, the separation of loved ones, the passage of time, deaths of people close to the band and the hope that springs from a new love.  “Apollo” is a seven-minute plus instrumental written by Big Big Train drummer Nick D’Virgilio and will be an undoubted highlight when the band tour in 2022. “When the time came to start coming up with ideas for the next BBT album, I felt very strongly that we should include a quintessential instrumental track. I wanted to write the band’s version of Genesis’s Los Endos and to make a track that really showed off the talent of all the amazing musicians in this band. I knew that the team could totally play anything I threw at them, and boy, did they prove me right! I thought about the unique instrumentation of BBT. We have so many wonderful ‘voices’ to play with and I wanted every one of them in this song. In the big end bit, I can totally envisage the crowd with their hands in the air going back n forth, all of the lights and haze on the stage, the band just absolutely slamming, the crowd singing along with the melody the BBT brass ensemble is playing, until we reach a glorious end.” 
Watch the video for “Apollo” here:
https://youtu.be/88HHhbD1vFE
Tracklisting:1. The Strangest Times
2. All The Love We Can Give
3. Black With Ink
4. Dandelion Clock
5. Headwaters
6. Apollo
7. Common Ground
8. Atlantic Cable
9. Endnotes
‘Common Ground’ is available for pre-order now as Double Vinyl, CD, and Bandcamp Download at these sites:
https://burningshed.com/store/bigbigtrain
https://bigbigtrain.bandcamp.com

‘Common Ground’ sees the band taking in wider musical and lyrical inspiration from artists such as Elbow, Pete Townshend, Tears For Fears, Elton John and XTC, as well as acknowledging their more progressive roots. As ever, Big Big Train will take listeners on a journey, be it waiting for the UK 5pm pandemic press conferences (’The Strangest Times’) to the library of Alexandria (‘Black With Ink’) to the bottom of the ocean (‘Atlantic Cable’).
 
For the ‘Common Ground’ tour, which will be their most extensive to date and which will culminate in the UK with a show at the prestigious London Palladium, Greg Spawton (bass), David Longdon (lead vocals, flute), Nick D’Virgilio (drums, vocals) and Rikard Sjöblom (guitars, keyboards, vocals) will be joined by Carly Bryant (keyboards, guitars, vocals), who contributes vocals to ‘Common Ground’, Dave Foster (guitars), who plays on two tracks on the new album, Clare Lindley (violin, vocals) and by a five piece brass ensemble. The band expect to announce North American tour dates shortly.
 
BIG BIG TRAIN UK TOUR 2022
 
TUE, MARCH 15TH – YORK, BARBICAN
WED, MARCH 16TH – CAMBRIDGE, CORN EXCHANGE
FRI, MARCH 18TH – BIRMINGHAM, SYMPHONY HALL
SAT, MARCH 19TH – BATH, FORUM
MON, MARCH 21ST – GLASGOW, ROYAL CONCERT HALL
TUE, MARCH 22ND – MANCHESTER, BRIDGEWATER HALL
WED, MARCH 23RD – LONDON, PALLADIUM
 
TICKETS ON SALE HERE:
https://myticket.co.uk/artists/big-big-train
 

Big Big Train was initially founded in 1990 and went through several line-up changes, but in 2009 the band decided on a fresh start, and the core of the current version of the band was born. Since then, they have gone on to win four Progressive Music Awards, played sold out shows and seen their last album, 2019’s ‘Grand Tour’, reach #1 in the Official UK rock charts and break into the top 40 in the Official UK album charts. The band toured the UK for the first time in 2019, culminating in a sold out show at London’s Hackney Empire, subsequently released as the critically acclaimed Blu-ray ‘Empire’, and 2022 will see the band performing their largest UK tour to date along with their first ever dates in North America. 
 
BIG BIG TRAIN online:
www.bigbigtrain.com
https://www.facebook.com/bigbigtrain/
https://twitter.com/bigbigtrain

Transatlantic: Absolute Genius

The three versions of the album. Photo from nealmorse.com

So, after much anticipation and perhaps some untoward eagerness on my part, Transatlantic’s Absolute Universe: The Ultimate Edition box set finally arrived yesterday.  Or, maybe one should write more appropriately, it landed!  And, yes, I was and am thrilled.

I had received a promo copy of two versions of the album—The Breath of Life (Abridged) and Forevermore (Extended)—and I’ve been playing them pretty much non-stop. 

But, with The Ultimate Edition, I now have yet a third version of the album, Mike Portnoy’s blu-ray version. If you have to pick just one of the three, I’d highly recommend the blu-ray version as the best.  Not only does it capture the spirit of The Breath of Life (which Morse mixed and curated) and Forevermore (which Stolt mixed and curated), but its sound is just nothing short of glorious.  Each instrument is crystal clear as is the space between each. 

Most astonishing of all sounds to emerge from the blu-ray version is Pete Trewavas’s bass. I’ve always thought of him as an excellent bassist, but I didn’t realize just how excellent until hearing the blu-ray version. Somewhat funny that he was the only band member NOT to mix and curate a version of this album. 

Continue reading Transatlantic: Absolute Genius

Unfold the Future by The Flower Kings

Highest Prog Fantasy: Unfold The Future by the Flower Kings

[Originally published in 2017]

A review The Flower Kings, UNFOLD THE FUTURE (2002; remastered and reissued, 2017). Tracks: The Truth Will Set You Free; Monkey Business; Black and White; Christianopel; Silent Inferno; The Navigator; Vox Humana; Genie in a Bottle; Fast Lane; Grand Old World; Soul Vortex; Rollin’ the Dice; The Devil’s Schooldance; Man Overboard; Solitary Shell; Devil’s Playground; and Too Late for Tomatos

Grade: A+.  Glorious.  Full.  Enchanting.  Mesmerizing.

The Flower Kings released its first boxset, A KINGDOM OF COLOURS (Insideout Music), in very late 2017.  Granted, we’re more than a bit late coming to the news, and I (Brad) only realized that the boxset had come out when seeing an advertisement for the forthcoming second boxset.

This set—a gorgeously packaged one at that—is part 1 of 2, re-releasing the band’s first official seven studio albums.  Missing are any b-sides, extra tracks, live releases, and the album that started it all, Stolt’s 1994 solo album, THE FLOWER KING.  But, these absences are certainly fine, as the boxset is what it is.  The next set, according to Insideout, will have three full disks of new or previously unreleased material.  Additionally and spectacularly, of those original albums re-released for A KINGDOM OF COLOURS, the final one, 2002’s UNFOLD THE FUTURE, has been completely remastered by the Flower King himself, Mr. Roine Stolt.

Despite being a life-long prog fan, I didn’t come to The Flower Kings until the band released its 1999 album, FLOWER POWER.  When it came out, one of my best students (now, amazingly enough, a beloved colleague) lent it to me, knowing my love of all things prog.  Not only did FLOWER POWER floor me, but I had to purchase it and everything the band had done to that point.  To say I became a MASSIVE fan of the band in 1999 would be pure understatement.  My love of the music produced by Stolt and co. was tangible, and I simply couldn’t get enough.  Of those first seven studio albums, my favorite—to this day—is SPACE REVOLVER (2000).  Yet, there’s nothing the band has done that I don’t love. 

When UNFOLD THE FUTURE came out in November, 2002, I was just completely my first book (on Tolkien) and starting my second (on Christopher Dawson).  It was a heady time in my professional life, and The Flower Kings served as a thrilling and inspirational soundtrack.  To me, the band was making not just prog, but mythic prog.  Not just prog, but actual high fantasy.  Indeed, unlike almost any other band in rock, The Flower Kings alone were defining and making albums as manifestations of fantastic moods or states of being.  BACK IN THE WORLD OF ADVENTURES was explorative; RETROPOLIS was playful; STARDUST WE ARE was redemptive.  Of those first seven studio albums, though, the seventh, UNFOLD THE FUTURE, was boldly confident and righteous.  Not pretentious, but definitely righteous.

Even more than the previous releases, the band embraced every form of musical expression for UNFOLD THE FUTURE: everything from Genesis-like symphonic prog to Metheny and Brubeck-like jazz to tiddly-winks and novelty music.  It was all there.  All there.  Everything.  Nothing absent.  Yet, it all came together in some appreciative whirligig of cohesive and thunderous reality. 

Additionally, while the themes of earlier albums, such as FLOWER POWER, were overtly pagan, the themes of UNFOLD THE FUTURE are subtly (and sometimes not so subtly) Christian.  But, they’re mythically Christian rather than pietistically Christian.  At center stage in the drama of UNFOLD THE FUTURE stand two mighty figures: the devil and the Holy Mother.  Whether Stolt means the Holy Mother to be the white goddess who appeared to Socrates, the White Buffalo woman who appeared to the original Sioux, the Lady of the Lake who appeared to Arthur, or the Virgin Mary, it probably matters not.  She’s the Holy Mother, and she hates the devil.

The three central tracks of the album are 1) The Truth Will Set You Free; 5) Silent Inferno; and 16) Devil’s Playground.

The opening track, “The Truth Will Set Us Free,” not surprisingly, takes us to the beginning—allowing us to imagine the first rainfall on the earth and the incomprehensibly huge heart and grace that allowed it all to come into being.  The second main track, “Silent Inferno,” is tenebrous, and the world slides easily into the twilight realm of existence, a haunting and foreboding hovering over all humanity.  The final track, though, “Devil’s Playground,” pits the two giants against one another, the force of Hell and the Holy Mother.  Though the song ends on a nebulous note, it’s hard not to believe that the Holy Mother has not emerged victorious.  After all, how could the album—or the band—ever promote the transcendence of the human person (as seen on the cover of the album) without a victory against the forces of evil.

Well, maybe it’s just wishful thinking on my part.  Still, let me just state: I’ve been listening to UNFOLD THE FUTURE for sixteen years now, and it never gets old.  That Stolt has remastered the entire album is just an added blessing and grace.  Perfecting that which is already perfect. 

At least perfect as understood in this world of sorrows.