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The Flower Kings - The Sum Of No Evil CD (album) cover

THE SUM OF NO EVIL

The Flower Kings

 

Symphonic Prog

3.80 | 420 ratings

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tszirmay
Special Collaborator
Crossover Team
4 stars I have a strange take on the Flower Kings, a sort of schizoid thing I just can't shake. On one hand, I buy TFK albums due to one simple reason: first & foremost Jonas Reingold's magic bass guitar just floors me every time. Second, I am very fond of Tomas Bodin as a keyboard player but also I love his attitude on life, love and the human condition. Third, I missed my fellow Hungarian Zoltán but now that he's back, we all can proudly reassert: Best current progressive rhythm section bar none and as masterful as the old and sacred Squire/Bruford tandem! The truth is I am not always completely enthralled by Roine Stolt's vocals and Hasse Froberg's even less. The guitar playing is marvelous though and the man certainly can pump out mountains worth of material, for the most part quite good. Having seen them live, I can tell you that you scratch your head wondering how they can remember all those endless twists and turns. They say the truth will set you free, so I will say it: The Flower Kings are probably the only progressive band whose "Greatest Hits" would be the disc of the century! Each one of their studio albums has a couple of tracks that just get under your skin. So what's up with the latest offering, you ask? Even though there is really little to fix when nothing is broken The Sum of No Evil is a notch above Paradox and Adam & Eve , mainly due to the fact that the reasons espoused above (Jonas, you are a joy to listen to!) and that the material is pared from some of the by now famous Flower King fat.

"One More Time" encapsulates the regal blossom fans have come to expect: 13 minutes of complexly twisted prog with exhilarating Fenderbass work, sequenced to perfection by Zoltan's manic drumming , Tomas positively zipping on Mini-Moog synthesizer, Roine tossing in a few meandering leads that shiver and shudder , hey , how can you dislike this ? I mean, it's progressive rock in its most classic form, dance/pop this cannot ever be and commercial, yeah. right! The most obvious criticism is that it's like the Beatles tune "It's All too Much", a supremely rich musical dessert that is too fattening. Two comments: get off your butts and you won't complain and if you do like I do, just listen to the four strings a rumbling and all will be clearer. "Love is the Only Answer" is not a 24 minute Todd Rungren/Utopia remake (without "Only", wink) but au contraire, a typical Swedish whopper juicily dripping from all sides that has, incredibly, some actually scintillating vocals (Is it love?) and bombastic fury alternating with more sedate inspiration courtesy of that underused marvel called Ulf Wallander on saxophone, such a great instrument. To paraphrase Henry Higgins in My Fair Lady (a very ancient "proggy" musical):"Why can't the proggers learn the Sax?" and use it more often, for that matter! Stolt pitches in some interesting textures and revisiting his "sitar" sound that was always well received and dosed adroitly, especially in unison with the Moog. This should be a showstopper in a live setting (one's appreciation for the band expands exponentially when witnessed on stage). Wah-wah guitar scatting with some vocals, sibilant synths engaged in playful dialogue with a soprano sax? Have these meatballs gone jazzy on us? It must be that manic Hun's influence at work, thankfully taking this group back to the aerie heights of Progdom, once achieved with epic monuments like "The Truth Will Set You Free" and the seminal "Stardust We Are". The track ends on an intricate Stolt drive through the 6 electric strings on his axe. And it sacks with a sax! "Trading My Soul" is a TFK ballad, a touching lament with a big long bluesy solo that has plenty of atmosphere (a little wink to Camel in the last lyric: "I Can See your Houses from Here") and some sustained anguish notes from Roine. Very nice, guv'! "The Sum of No Reason" shows off a heavier riff-a-rama side, which is actually quite welcome, a little fire up their asses suits these guys immensely, interspaced with some fabulously delicate marimba work from Hasse Bruniusson. This is a tremendous piece of raging music, very impressive in that it exudes a slight Zappa influence that leaves a pleasant glow in the ear. "Flight 999 Brimstone Air" is already considered as a TFK instrumental of the finest vintage, resplendent in both tone and adventure, a sterling display of virtuoso craftsmanship that seeks out very odd experimental horizons chock full of Bodin atmospherics (last attempted on "Unfold the Future"), here conducted by the incredibly athletic and nimble sticks of the Mad Magyar. The superb disc terminates its run with "Life In Motion", where the mellotron takes the stage and underlines the obvious capacity for the Kings to consistently "outyes"

Yes, showing again that the students have surpassed their teachers. Nice artwork by the modern Roger Dean, the crafty Ed Unitsky whose art also adorns Guy Manning and the Tangent recordings. Four and ½ Bodins

tszirmay | 4/5 |

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