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The Flower Kings - Stardust We Are CD (album) cover

STARDUST WE ARE

The Flower Kings

 

Symphonic Prog

3.89 | 446 ratings

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ZowieZiggy
Prog Reviewer
4 stars This is the first a long serie of TFK double albums. Not all of them will be brilliant. Roine might be a creative person, but there are human limits to this. On top of TFK he has so many side projects running that it is almost impossible to keep such a recording pace and reaching a high quality level throughout all these works.

The opener " In the Eyes of the World" is fully in TFK's style : complex composition, flamboyant keyboards and very strong guitar. Again, the Yes reference is obvious. But this is one of the reason why I love this band so much. ELP might also be associated to their inspiration in here. Still, the catchy rhythm and cristal clear voice from Roine adds this so special TFK mood to it. A great opener.

A very short and intimist instrumental break will lead to "Just This Once". Again, TFK delivers an interesting song : full of vocal melody and strong intrumental parts even jazzy at times. They will be mostly keyboard oriented. The jazzy mood though is a bit too invading to my taste. But globally this song is rather pleasant.

The third long composition "Church Of Your Heart" is one of my fave of this album. All harmony and beautiful music from the very start to the finish. I really love this band when they produce such wonderful and emotional numbers. Vocals are again very sweet. But this is the seal of TFK. Roine's voice is so identifiable...Which such a title, no wonder that the middle instrumental break features a church organ sound. A highlight of this album and one of the greatest TFK song ever.

"Poor Mr. Rain's Ordinary Guitar" is a short and sweet acoustic track. Very relaxing but not really necessary. Anyway it provides such a feeling of tranquility that I can really not complain about it. "The Man Who Walked With Kings" is another instrumental. Not bad, but not memorable either. But honestly it is not a filler either. Some grandiose guitar part will avoid this.

"Circus Brimstone" is the longest track of this first CD. It starts on a scary mood, somewhat quiet. The intro is definitely KC oriented. It will evolve into a beautiful track, only interrupted at imes by some weird sounds (like when you are looking for a radio station and changing form the one to the other). But these moments are not so many, so I wouldn't blame TFK too much.

After another short break, we are heading the closing number of disc one. The religious mood is again very present here, and the addition of choirs will only confirm this. This song really finishes at 4'45", and then comes back again around 5'15" with some keyboards sounds remininscent of "OnThe Run" from "The Dark Side Of The Moon".

IMO, the track would have gained in interest if it would have been cut where it should have been, meaning after the first break. These last four minutes do not bring anything interesting at all. Anyway, if we except these four minutes, we have experienced a wonderful first CD. Let's hear what CD 2 is all about.

Again, with "Pipes Of Peace", we are transported into the church music; but it only lasts for just over one minute. There will be a total of eight of these short numbers. Not all being necessary. But I have to say that very few sounds boring as well.

The first true song of this second CD is again full of emotion at start. I am really charmed by Roine's voice. I guess either you like it or not. No compromise, I'm afraid. I belong to the former category. I am also found of these great guitar breaks provided here and there throughout their albums in general. I got this feeling the very first time I listened to TFK and this feeling has never left me.

"The Merrygoround" sounds a bit as "Parallels" ("GFTO", Yes) in its initial phase. Strong and rhythmy number for most of the song, it will hold a sweet and melancholic section during its second half. A jewel of peaceful music. The finale is just sublime.

With the Oriental "Don Of The Universe" we are entering into the least interesting part of the album. It is the first filler of this excellent album. Repetitive and dull, I'm afraid. Useless. Like the very short "A Day at the Mall" which is the poorest of these transition tracks.

"Different People" sounds as a world music track. Not really my cup of tea. I have never been really enthusiast with the sitar, so these background sounds do not really have my favour. This number might be part of their concept, but it is tasteless to my ears. I guess, that by this time TFK just got short of inspiration.

The album picks up again a bit with "Kingdom of Lies". The poppy inspiration is not too bad but it won't be a memorable either. Just average. But I guess that some average tracks on a double album is a normal thing. I cannot remember a double studio album being great from start to finish. Even from some originators of the prog music we all love so much.

"If 28" is another short piano-oriented linking track. Not better, nor worse than the majorit of them. These artifacts are often used in concept albums, so again I would not rail at TFK to have done so.

Fortunately, we'll get another good song with "Ghost Of The Red Cloud". This mellow track is a reggae number which is very pleasant to listen to. It is rather unexpected by TFK (but it has nothing to do with a song like "Corners" from IQ for instance which was absolutely dreadful). It is just a pleasant and different number leading to the last short and acoustic piece "Hotel Nirvana". It won't get you there but it stands to introduce the last and the longest number of this album.

The twenty-five minutes "Stardust We Are". TFK will produce several very long songs during their long career (still in progress in 2007). I guess that their inspiration for such long epics is only too obvious to deserve not to be mentioned. It will even include some Tommy oriented fragments ("See Me, Fel Me") ! Just another wink I guess to the mother of all concept albums (IMO). It is not my preferred epic from the band ("The Truth Will Set You Free" is the one I prefer). It holds very pleasant breaks but lacks in passion.

Even if I am an old timer (48 by now, unfortunately), I quite appreciate this album and TFK in general. I would have rated it with the masterpiece status if it would have been downsized to a single CD without any doubt (even a double CD but without the tracks four to eight, which would have shorten the second CD by twenty-two minutes). I think TFK's management should have addressed this point form the very begining of TFK's career. Why did they feel obliged to produce such long albums (single or double ones) ?

This effort holds a lot of interesting nsongs (especially on disc one which is a true jewel IMO). Disc II is just partially short of inspiration. I will rate this very good album with four stars.

It might sounds maybe too much as Yes, and therefore TFK is lacking of personality, but again as this wonderful band does not really create brilliant new stuff nowadays (but they are still touring which is always an enchantment for me to attend their concerts), I am quite satified that TFK is taking on the torch. They deserve your attention and this album might well be a very good introduction to their music. Give TFK a try. Most of you won't regret it, for sure.

ZowieZiggy | 4/5 |

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