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The Flower Kings - Manifesto of an Alchemist

The Flower Kings
Manifesto of an Alchemist
by Dave "That Metal Guy" Campbell at 12 January 2019, 9:15 AM

Roine Stolt, known as the guitarist, singer, writer and at times band leader of the groups THE FLOWER KINGS, TRANSATLANTIC, AGENTS OF MERCY, KAIPA DC, as well as from his work with prog icon Jon Anderson and the new super group THE SEA WITHIN, is releasing a new album in November. Under the moniker ROINE STOLT’S THE FLOWER KING, “Manifesto Of an Alchemist” offers 10 songs and almost 70 minutes of playing time celebrating the style Roine is most revered for.

“Unlike many later albums, where recordings have continued over months,” Roine states, “this new album has been a fairly quick and effective affair - we started tracking in Holland at the beginning of July and mix was done by mid-August! The songs are written in a very ‘unorthodox’ way - some melodic content and some riffs are ideas that have been circulating for years - some may even be from before the first TFK album - they just hadn’t found a home in any of the bands/albums I did in the last 15 years yet.”

Starting as a teenage prodigy in the band KAIPA in 1974 and first releasing his music on the LP “Kaipa” (1975) via DECCA is a veteran with  more than 200 recorded titles since the humble beginnings in the mid 70’s. Fast forward to the 90’s, the album “The Flower King” (1994) marked an important offering in his career since Roine played all instruments except for drums and the a self-produced/self-financed effort rapidly propelled the Swedish guitarist into international prog stardom. “Like that first TFK album, I’m the main lead vocalist here again - it works as these lyrics are important to me and resonate with my view of the world. A lot of the guitar work is actually my spontaneous ‘demo’ guitars” and that goes for much of the synth work, too. I didn’t want to ‘process’ ideas too much as there is much power in the initial creation - I wanted to keep it that way.”

“Rainsong” is a brief lead-in track where the vocal line is harmonic and repeated. “Lost America” is close to ten minutes, with a thick bass line and proggy, trippy guitars. Keys melt in the background, leading to a dreamy sound with jazzy drums. After the half way mark, it turns into a jam complete with cowbell. “Ze Pawns” is just over eight minutes, opening with psychedelic keys and guitars and a breezy sound that envelopes you. It’s mild mannered with peaks that lash out here and there. “High Road” is a twelve-minute beast that is exploratory in nature, taking several shapes and shifting along the way to keep you on your toes. It stays pretty melancholy, without many accents.

“Rio Grande” is back to eight minutes in length. This instrumental opens with a little more grandiosity, featuring some nice lead guitar work and notable bass lines. It settles a bit towards the middle but comes back in grand fashion. “Next to a Hurricane” is a short, four-minute, straight forward rocker, featuring Rione’s smooth vocals. He could sell a ketchup popsicle to a lady in a white dress. “The Alchemist” is close to seven minutes in length, featuring almost free flowing guitars and keys in a jam session behind closed doors. The track takes unexpected turns here and there and isn’t much of a solid as it is a liquid. “Baby Angels” is a tender four-minute song with light and airy vocals and what sounds to me like a mandolin, though it is not listed in the instruments used on the album.

“Six Thirty Wake-Up” is another shorter song that barely registers until half way in. The melodies are subtle but easy to assimilate. “The Spell of Money” is the ten-minute closer, opening with more ominous tones that dissipate quickly to a soft and warm blanket. It lingers on your palate for a while as you wonder down a path into the forest with the sun on your shoulders. Overall, this was a very easy listening slab of Progressive Rock music, reminiscent of the 1970’s. It stays fairly mellow throughout the album and doesn’t venture into foreign lands much. Since there were not a lot of accents, it didn’t overly excite me, but I don’t think that was the point anyway. The point is to just sit back, put your feet up, and let the album melt away your cares. It does a pretty good job of this.

Songwriting: 9
Originality: 6
Memorability: 6
Production: 7

3 Star Rating

1. Rainsong
2. Lost America
3. Ze Pawns
4. High Road
5. Rio Grande
6. Next to a Hurricane
7. The Alchemist
8. Baby Angels
9. Six Thirty Wake-Up
10. The Spell of Money
Roine Stolt – Lead Vocals, Guitars, Synths, Keyboards, Bass
Marco Minnemann – Drums
Michael Stolt – Bass, Vocals
Jonas Reingold – Bass
Rob Townsend – Sax
Max Lorentz – Hammond B3, Vocals
Zach Kamins – Moog & Keys
Hans Froberg – Vocals
Nad Sylvan – Vocals
Record Label: InsideOut Music


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