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The Future Kings Of England - Who Is This Who Is Coming? CD (album) cover

WHO IS THIS WHO IS COMING?

The Future Kings Of England

 

Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.84 | 60 ratings

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VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Review Nš 243

"Who Is This Who Is Coming?" is the fourth album of The Future Kings Of England and was released in 2011. This new album of The Future King of England is dedicated to the English writer Montague Rhodes James. As many of his early 20th century contemporaries, he dealt with ghost stories, artifacts, and supernatural phenomena. So, "Who Is This Who Is Coming?" is a concept album that deals with a chilling story and the music matches up amazingly well with the story.

The concept of the story is about Mr. Parkins, a skeptical Cambridge professor who spends his holidays in the town of Burnstow, (a fictionalized version of Felixstowe in Suffolk), in a coastal hotel. He finds a flute in the nearby ruins of a Templar religious house. Amongst other things, a Latin text engraved on the ancient instrument reads: "Who is this who is coming?". So, Professor Parkins discovers that the sound of the flute evokes on him powerful images of some mysterious characters. Since the use of the flute, it has begun to haunt Mr. Parkin's own double room at Globe Inn in Burnstow. Only through the courageous intervention of a friend escapes our professor of the madness, or at least of a desperate jump out of the hotel window. The flute is then thrown into the sea, and this is the end of the story by M. R. James, included in his horror short story collection of "Ghost Stories Of An Antiquary", which were publisehed in 1904.

The narration just summarized is called "Whistle And I'll Come To You" and of course comes from M. R. James. This story seems to have intrigued this British quartet. So, to some extent, it was chosen as a soundtrack template for the slightly mysterious music. Quotes from the story were printed on the cover as a background of the respective pieces.

In the most recent years, the influence of centuries-old folk and classic tales of literature has been heard on many new artists. On their fourth studio album, "Who Is This Who Is Coming?", The Future Kings Of England draw from the much same well, albeit with a more psychedelic, post-rock, and ambient aesthetic. The group masterfully synthesizes these different styles into a very intriguing and affective result, making the album a joyful experience from beginning to end.

Musically, the band claim to have a range of influences, but by far the clearest influence is Pink Floyd. Direct references are hard to pin down, but the atmospheric feel this album gives is very Floydyan. About halfway through the album an alarm goes off in an unmistakable timely way, and in the final track, a Gilmour's guitar solo is to be heard. Still, incessantly comparing the album's music to Pink Floyd simply doesn't do the band justice and would be very reductive. The music is really pastoral and laid-back. So, don't expect any whizzy keyboard solos or complex time signatures. Despite being a mainly instrumental album, vocals can be heard too. In each of the songs, the band presents a new and different sound, according with the story. For an album that is clearly designed to be listened to as a whole, it can seem needlessly bitty and directionless at times. Anyway, I can find very few faults with the music itself. However, I can understand this collection of tracks maybe doesn't quite fit well in the way you'd like, since this is a conceptual album.

You might expect that the standout piece would be the title track, which is very comprehensive. It has a bit of an ambient music in the style of Brian Eno feel to it for the first two minutes, but the music of the rest of the track though it's really more like a scary movie soundtrack. The nine minutes which close the first half of the album are instead devoted to a rather experimental track, like a tiny musical probe into your mind. If you're much acquainted with the music of Tangerine Dream you'll know what I want to mean. The overall effect is actually quite pleasant, an atmospheric detour from the melodic first quarter of the album. Of course, this is the type of prog music to polarise fans of the genre, the fans of the more simple and melodic side of prog. But, for those who wish to hear dense and much complicated music will surely be put off by the lack of such kind of things here. But of course, this kind of things, the denser and much complicated prog music does start to happen later, and for many, the best track on the album must surely be the lengthiest piece, a common carachteristic of all prog albums. Of course I'm talking about "A Face Of Crumpled Linen". This track harks back to Floydian use of repetition and structure, and certainly the fade towards the middle of the track points to "Echoes". Towards the end, the band speeds up for a dramatic close before the final track.

Conclusion: "Who Is This Who Is Coming?" is an excellent progressive rock album and a truly great surprise to me. It seems that the English prog remains still alive and kicking and enjoys of a good health, surely. I really didn't read the original short novel, but I can imagine, according to the music, that it's really scary. Musically, the album is very original despite its clear influences of the classic prog rock music, mainly the psychedelic influences, especially the Floydian influences. Somehow, "Who Is This Who Is Coming?" can perhaps sounds more like a soundtrack of a film. So, this album put me very curious about the other three previous albums of the band. This is highly recommended stuff, really.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

VianaProghead | 4/5 |

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