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music reviewmusic reviewmusic reviewmusic review  out of 4 Music Review: Retropolis

Artist: The Flower Kings
Genre: Rock
Release Date: September 2000

Review by Keith "MuzikMan" Hannaleck
4 stars out of 4

The Flower Kings had a very busy schedule in the year 2000. "Retropolis" (1996) was one of three dazzling studio albums reissued (previously released on Foxtrot Records) by Inside Out Music America that year, the others were "Space Revolver" (2000) and the epic classic "Stardust We Are"(1997). That kind of output quickly garnered them attention as one of the premier progressive rock bands in the world. With such a tremendously solid string of releases in such a short span of time, people began to wonder who these guys were. The live recording "Alive on Planet Earth" (1998, 1999) also was reissued the same year. Inside Out Music America brought a new awareness the TFK catalog. Anyone with a hint of interest in progressive rock would be drooling in the record bins when looking over the awesome catalog this group has. What makes it that much more unbelievable is the fact that every single album is a prog-rock classic in its own right.

What I found similar with this recording in comparison to others was the ever present consistency of quality musicianship and the appealing mixture of vocal tracks and instrumentals. The eleven minute instrumental opus "Retropolis" unmistakably defines the bands need to give the nod to their influences Yes, Pink Floyd, and so many others that blazed the trail for them to continue on. The futuristic cover art is in direct proportion to their thematic musical journeys (like Roger Dean's Yes covers). What was at times subtle, and other times more than obvious to me were the middle-eastern influences in the guitar playing of Rione Stolt. Perhaps I missed that the first time around on previous albums, but it's definitely there. Stolt sounds like Zappa doing his best Steve Howe impression at times. Tomas Bodin is given the green light and free reign with his Hammond and other keyboard effects; I found that aspect more predominant than on any other release. And that factor is due to the mix and sound quality being noticeably different on "Retropolis" as well. From "Stardust We Are" forward there was a change in the way they recorded their music. I am grateful for the opportunity to hear from whence they came and all the developmental phases they went through. You can experience this too, but only if you work your way through their entire catalog as I have. Stolt's guitar is typically splendid but slightly lower profile than usual, and that in effect brings Bodin and the rest of the group more out front for a discerning listener.

I believe that a remaster of this album would make it brighter and cleaner regarding sound and sonics. Don't get me wrong, this is a great recording. I guess I have come to expect musical perfection in all aspects of a Flower Kings' recordings. These guys are still an 11 on a scale of 1 to 10. As the innovators that came before them, they set the standard in the year 2000 and continue to be the group that has been setting the pace for all others to follow beyond the new millennium.

1. Rhythm of Life (Bodin) - 0:28
2. Retropolis (Stolt) - 11:07
3. Rhythm of the Sea (Stolt) - 6:13
4. There Is More to This World (Stolt) - 10:07
5. Romancing the City (Bodin) - 0:53
6. The Melting Pot (Stolt) - 5:48
7. Silent Sorrow (Stolt) - 7:38
8. The Judas Kiss (Stolt) - 7:39
9. Retroplis by Night (Bodin) - 3:06
10. Flora Majora (Stolt) - 6:49
11. The Road Back Home (Stolt) - 8:57

Meet The Band:

Hans Bruniusson - Percussion
Ulf Artan Wallander - Sax (Soprano)
Jaime Salazar - Percussion, Drums
Tomas Bodin - Synthesizer, Piano, Organ (Hammond), Mellotron, Effects
Roine Stolt - Guitar, Keyboards, Vocals, Voices
Hans Froberg - Voices
Thomas Bodin - Synthesizer, Piano, Organ (Hammond), Mellotron, Mixing, Fx Vocals
Michael Stolt - Bass



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