Unfold The Future (2CD)
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon August 27, 2004
I like the Flower Kings in general because they do such a great job of melding classic prog influences with their own flavor, producing music you can listen to over and over. All their efforts are good, but this one has risen above the rest to become my favorite.

The first cut (The Truth Will Set You Free) is worth the cost of the album alone. It's their best single song on any album, and stacks up well to prog epics of any era. At over thirty minutes, it's got space for a lot of variety, and it has it, with nuances that remind me of bands like Yes, Traffic, and others. But it's not derivative - far from it. It's also more cohesive than many prog epics, and, like most other Flower Kings, has good lyrics to go with the music. If you like prog in general, but hate those goofy lyrics that seem to come along with much good prog, Flower Kings can be your solution.

I'm also fond of Silent Inferno on the first disk. It has a lot of instrumental segments, and they are a bit punchier than most prog. It illustrates the other advantage the Flower Kings have over many prog bands, which is an emphasis on cohesive compositions. In a lot of modern prog, I get the idea that the band members are mostly trying to show what virtuosos they are instead of concentrating on making good music. Not so with the Flower Kings.

All of the first disk is excellent. I did get tired of Monkey Business (the second cut) sooner than the rest, but not because it's bad - it's just not as deep a composition as the rest.

The albums biggest flaw is that the second disk does not come up to the overall quality of the first. It's not bad - just not as rich and deep. I find I listen to it only about a third as often as the first disk. But you could throw away the second disk, and still get one of the best prog albums ever made.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on October 9, 2003
For those of you who are in your fifties: This album is like listening to old Yes and Weather Report together. What a killer combo, wouldn't you say? Disc 1 is unbelievable! A must-have album for you original prog rock lovers! Bass players!: You gotta listen to this one!
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on February 9, 2003
Of all of my FK purchases over the years, and I have them all, this was the most difficult to access. I recieved it in December and waited until now, February to review it. It is a dense recording one that takes many a listen to fully comprehend and appreciate. At first, I was taken by the outstanding sense of chemistry within the collective musicianship but the compositions took a while to warm up to. I must say that it is now one of the most interesting and enjoyable recordings within the FK catalog. The chemistry between Reingold and Csorsz is nothing short of brilliant. They are an incredible rhythm section. I thought Jamie Salazar the finest prog drummer since Bruford but there is something going on between these two that is just outstanding. Stolt and Bodin are, as they always are, the finest in contemporary prog on their respective instruments. Everyone contributes or collaborates on the compositions. Genie in a Bottle is the lone track that I still struggle with and this is solely because of the lyrics. It's due more to the sense that it has been done before than anything else. There are times that one thinks of Star People era Miles Davis-it can be that jazzy and diverse. Still, this is first and foremost a prog effort. Brilliant. Highly recommended...Simon
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on July 8, 2006
This is the second studio album I have purchased by the Flower Kings (the acception is "BrimStoned in Europe", an utter failour of a live album), my first outting being the very uneven "Stardust We Are". Unfortunately, I have serious doubts that I will ever find anything of this caliber in the rest of their catalog... or anyone else's, for that matter. About 50% of my music listening for the past 6 months has been devoted to this album, and there are still new things I'm picking up on each additional listen.

There are 4 distinctly different types of tracks on this album: songs, ballads, jazz instrumentals, and ballads.

For the flowerkings, the songs are surprisingly strong, especially "Fast Lane", punctuated by Daniel Gildenlow's vocals (of Pain of Salvation fame). Another weird hybrid is "Man Overboard", which can't decide if it's an up-tempo song, a ballad, and has a strange mixture of extreme symphonic prog and jazz mentalities. Sound like a disaster? Not at all, it's probably one of the strongest short tracks. The others are all noteworthy as well.

Now for the ballads, the one blemish on this stellar album. Ballads are, by nature, extremely lyricly driven, and even though the lyrics on this album are world's better than their earlier stuff, the ballads are all extremely awkward, especially "Navigator", whose lines sound like they were directly translated from their original language without any thought to rhyming pattern. "Grand Old World", however, shines quite nicely, and "Solitary Shell" (basically a rearranged version of "Navigator") works well enough.

This is where things get interesting. There is a nice splattering of jazz-infused instrumentals throughout the album. Three in particular. The first, "Christainopel", ia a free jazz turned jam. The second, "Devil's Dance School" is a miniature masterpiece, with FK basically taking on the persona of Bitch's Brew era Miles Davis and infusing it with some of their own ideas. It's a unique track for sure, with some absolutely stunning trumpet work (through a wah pedal!). "Too Late for Tomatoes" (which only appears on the limited edition version of the album) continues the call & response style of Danceschool, while retaining some of the more freejazz sound of Christianopel, a very strong track.

Then we come to the bulk of the album, and the most stunning material, the epics. No more are their epics clumsily constructed with awkward transitions, and material that doesn't seem to belong, these are the real deal, and rank up there with some of the best prog epics I've ever heard. But nothing can prepare you for the masterpiece that is "Devil's Playground", a hard-hitting EPIC journey through sorrow, joy, intensity, humor, and over-arching seriousness. Most epics seem to seek to transport you from your present time and place, to fantasy worlds or existential alternate realities, not just in lyrics, but in theme and character. "Devil's Playground" lives in the here & now, punctuated by the re-occurring sounds of passing traffic and general city noise. This work is about laughter, it's about fear, and the chorus is one of the most hard-hitting wonders I've ever heard. The center 10 minutes, or so, is almost completely instrumental, although it retains enough character to make descriptions all on its own. I could go on and on, but it must be heard to be believed. "Silent Inferno" is a spiritual counterpart to Devil's Playground, but revolves more around its serious and intense side... if you don't believe these guys can qualify as progMETAL, this track will change your opinion very quickly. "The Truth Will Set You Free" is the most traditional of the three, a bit warmer and more subdued in comparison. It's been the hardest for me to get into, but it is mind-blowing in of itself.

In finality, this album is truly a gift that keeps on giving... and giving... and giving, whether you like it or not! Do not buy this along with any other albums, or they will most likely never get the attention they deserve, for "Unfold the Future" overshadows everything in its path.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on December 14, 2002
Roine Stolt and the boys have done it again!
The Flower Kings are pure heaven for Progressive Rock fans of old and new.
It is hard to believe that the band keeps improving on what years ago was already a pinnacle of this musical genre.
In my humble opinion, they have left all of the other relatively unknown like prog bands miles behind.
This band really is the creme' de le creme' and despite typical cliche' comparisons to YES, Early Genesis, Camel, and everyone else in thier comparitive prog field, there are really astonishing similiarities in the complexity of styles that the Flower Kings present, especially on this masterpiece!
2 FULL CD's of brand new Flower Kings material is enough to keep most musical ears in nirvana for months, if not more.
There is an amazing amount of Rock/Jazz fusion on this project, with a Flower King style that weaves themes in and out throughout the entirety. Jonas will amaze you.
The new drummer (Zoltan Csorsz) is perfect for this material. Tight and not overplayed, but complex with many changes in time signatures throughout while consistantly anchoring the bottom perfectly.
His style is perfect for one of the best Bass players in the business today (Jonas Reingold). Jonas is today what Chris Squire was to YES when they were doing Relayer, Tales, etc. only with more of a jazz-like feel and playfulness that is truly inspiring and delightful throughout the entire 2 CD's.
The Keyboards (Tomas Bodin) are awesome throughout and the Guitar work? This is what the Flower Kings are all about!
Roine and Hasse are perfect for each other and they continue to play some of the most amazing Prog Rock guitar (no speed metal here, just melodic perfection with themes, accents and leads that will arouse your spirits) very reminiscent of the 'best' of early day prog music such as YES and even Mahavishnu Orchestra.
This is the kind of project that you can listen to 50 times and still hear new things, but be warned, this may not catch your interest after a single half-hearted listen.
You will will be delighted and addicted after about 4-5 stright through listens.
Pay Attention!
These Guys are not pretenders!
The Fower Kings are simply some of the best musicians on the planet today and are currently playing at what has to be a musical genius peak!
I cannot imagine them getting any better, but the Flower Kings have never stopped amazing me yet.
If I could rank this CD any higher I would.
It's a Progressive Library Keeper!!!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on November 7, 2002
This is probably one of the very best CDs ever recorded. It has thoughtful songwriting, great musicianship and a real feel for the flow of love that brings magic to our lives. Very important stuff. It also rocks with a divine complexity. This has to be one of the longest 2CD discs ever recorded. There is well over 2 hours of music on here. With this disc I am starting to see the Flower Kings as the Beatles of the 21st century. Simply amazing music. My favorite tracks are "The Navigator" which is followed by the beautiful "Vox Humana", "Genie in a Bottle", "Man Overboard" which is followed by "Solitary Shell". These are just a few of the high points for me, but the album as a whole is fantastic. The average person may have to try a little harder to listen to appreciate a lot of it, but it will be well-rewarding. Americans need to get hip to this music! God ! What does it take! Buy many copies of this CD and give it to all your friends and loved ones!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on December 20, 2002
The songs have been discussed at length. My comments are simple, the long form songs are well realized with less needless twists and turns that have little or nothing to do with the larger song structure. Almost all prog bands are guilty of this but the Flower Kings do a fine job of cleaning things up compositionally.
The bass and drum playing is excellent and brings the jazz side of the Flower Kings up a level from previous bands. If there is one negative keyboardist Thomas Bodin and guitarist Roine Stolt aren't really up to the serious jazz playing of the rhythm section. It's not terrible listening to the jazz oriented songs, in fact it's a pleasant surprise but you can tell who's really in the groove when the jazz improvs hit.
Beside this the recording is excellent. The material is varied and well sung. I'm not sure who is singing what at times but if the vocals are Has's I'm completely impressed. Finally he comes to the fore as a lead vocalist. Still it's always nice to hear Roine sing and in the harmonies he shines as well as in lead vocals.
This is both a progression in style from The Rainmaker which was probably their weakest album as a whole although still very good.
If you like the Flower Kings, especially Space Revolver and Stardust We Are you will likely be impressed with Unfold the Future. The vocals are much more consistant and the areas of memorable epic songs and experimentation with the Flower Kings sound are very much evident here.
Some have complained about filler on this double CD but I have to disagree. The quieter tracks are nicely arranged and performed with humanity. It may not be as sonically intense as most of the album but it's a good change of pace.
This is a fine album, a good place for new listeners as well as fans. I can not stress enough how much better the writing and arranging is on Unfold the Future.
A purchase well worth making.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on November 7, 2002
This is the best album by The Flower Kings.

Firs thing you'll notice is Zoltan Czorsz on drums. After first hearing him live last year I was skeptical about Roine's claims that he blows Jaime out of the water - This must have had to do with the setlist they had. Here he is absolutely phenomenal, overflowing with energy and a groove so tight yet full of accents and new rhythms. Like Jonas Reingold on bass, he is coming from the jazz camp, and these songs give him a chance to blow. The improvs (yeah!) especially (there are 4 if you get the limited edition), Zoltan is in command. Jonas is a monster on this album. Finally we have some music where he can really stretch his chops. You've never heard a progressive album with a bass player like this. Beautiful alternate modulations, funky percussive 8th note extravaganzas, melodic and tasty fretless overtones, Squire-like beefiness....he's got it all down. Tomas Bodin on keys has once again expanded his sound library. New sounds, beautiful textures - so many great compositional moments (Tomas gets a lot of credits!). Hasse Froberg is....Hasse - the range of Jon Anderson in the mid 70s with 5 times the power and expression. Perhaps he gets a little overshadowed by guest Daniel Gildenlow (Pain of Salvation). Daniel is a welcome addition with a powerful and distinctive voice. Besides using a fantastic arsonal of effects and tonal varieties, Roine's contribution to this album is first as an unmatched composer of progressive music and 2nd as a world-class producer. If you have not heard Roine on guitar, you are missing a contemporary master.

This is a serious step ahead for this band. That said, it will take you a couple of listens to appreciate - there is so much music. If you were to make a comparison to Yes, this would be their Relayer. In 8 years The Flower Kings have released more music than Yes has in their whole career. But there is no way to compare this album to that or anything else because there is so much else coming in - Zappa, electric fusion, King Crimson, Stravinsky, funk, Beatles, Miles...but mostly Roine Stolt, Jonas Reingold, Zoltan Czorsz, Tomas Bodin, Hasse Froberg.

This is a defining moment in new progressive music.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on November 6, 2002
Any prog fan knows how far can the Flower Kings go.
Well, their records are, to say the least, excellent.
¿Which band in the world can release THREE double studio albums in five years (and some single albums between...)?
Of course, the Flower Kings.
Everyone agrees that "Stardust We Are" was their best. That's true.
"Flower Power", if not that good, was another amazingly rich work, with the enormous "Garden Of Dreams" as the central piece.
After that, a live album, and two more albums, "Space Revolver" (for me, their weakest record) and "The Rainmaker", which involved some personnel changes (a new rhythm section) and a slightly different approach to music, more song orientated, with heavier riffs and putting an eye in jazz.
Now, "Unfold The Future" appears as the ultimate 21st. century prog album. Clocking at 151 min. (special edition), with a wide variety of sounds and styles, it manages to blend the poppiest, proggest 'Kings, with the jazziest ones.
And the balance is perfect. Here, you can find incredible suites like "The Truth Will Set You Free" (à la Yes) or "Devil's Playground" (more experimental), jazz improvs. like "Too Late For Tomatos" or the brooding "Christianopel", the crimsonesque "Silent Inferno" (¡what a title!), beautiful melodies in "Black And White", powerful pop songs ("Monkey Business")...
Everything is in it's right place, performed with astonishing richness and technical prowess, offering to the listener an almost unbearable flood of ideas (there's a lot of things happening in this album all the time...)
As I said first: the best Flower Kings album.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
There is no shortage of creativity here. Roine Stolt and the Flower Kings have assembled a tremendous display of ideas. You'll hear some great rock and fusion in parts of "Genie in a Bottle," "Fast Lane" and "Rollin' the Dice. And you will find several pleasant ballads including "Vox Humana," "The Navigator" and "Solitary Shell."
Add to this a pair of undistinguished improv-jazz pieces "Christianopel" and "Soul Vortex" and a pair of epic-length pieces without epic themes. The overall effect is dilution.
There are truly great passages included here, and plenty of them. Clear standouts are the symphonic "Silent Inferno," the bass and trumpet driven "Devil's Danceschool," the afore-mentioned sweet ballad "Vox Humana" and large sections of "The Truth Will Set You Free" and "Devil's Playground." The problem is that the filler quotient is too high. Each of the tracks mentioned here as standouts contain passages that add nothing to the mix, doing nothing to move the song along.
Had as much effort gone into editing as went into the initial creativity, "Unfold the Future" would have ended up a 60-70 minute masterpiece. Instead, it is a 2-hour set of damn good background music, interrupted by occasional moments of brilliance. I'll keep it in my collection, and I will pull it out from time to time, but it won't be getting the call with a great deal of frequency.
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