Sunday, July 13, 2008

THE FLOWER KINGS: (2002) Unfold the Future (VBR - Inside Out Music)

Unfold the Future is the Flower Kings' eighth studio album (counting guitarist Roine Stolt's initial solo disc that christened the band), and their third double-CD set in ten years. By now they have released 13 hours of material. It took Genesis a quarter of a century to do the same. Are the Swedish guys doing too much? Astonishingly, no. Unfold the Future is a strong album, better than its predecessor, The Rainmaker. It could have been scaled down to a single-disc affair without leaving much crucial material behind, but it still works well as it is. The group's short flirt with a harder-edged sound is now over. Instead, the music builds upon the jazzier vein that was buried deep into The Rainmaker -- that and ballads, lots of ballads. This album introduces drummer Zoltan Csörsz, taking the place of original member Jaime Salazar, although you will hardly notice the difference. The rest of the lineup remains the same, including returning guests Hasse Bruniusson (percussion) and Ulf Wallander (soprano sax). Two lengthy selections bookend the set. "The Truth Will Set You Free" (31 minutes) takes listeners immediately on the roller coaster of emotions and time signatures that is a Flower Kings epic. More coherent than "Stardust We Are" or "Garden of Dreams," it will make an exciting concert addition and will quickly rise to classic Flower Kings status. "Devils Playground" (25 minutes) gets a bit trickier, but it includes some very strong sections and provides a powerful, frenzied finale. If these two songs -- along with "Monkey Business," "Silent Inferno," and "Genie in a Bottle" -- all fly up to the group's quality standards, the surprises are found in lower-profile tunes like "Soul Vortex" and "Christianopel," two free-form jams. Accusations of self-indulgence will probably continue to fly, but don't mind them; Unfold the Future is a good opus, even though you may want to go through it in more than one sitting.
-- François Couture, Allmusic

.. The Truth Will Set You Free: Lonely Road / Primal Instincts / From the Source
.. Monkey Business
.. Black and White
.. Christianopel
.. Silent Inferno
.. The Navigator
.. Vox Humana
.. Genie in a Bootle
.. Fast Lane
.. Grand Old World
.. Soul Vortex
.. Rollin' The Dice
.. The Devil's Danceschool
.. Man Overboard
.. Solitary Shell
.. Devil's Playground


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