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The Flower Kings - Unfold the Future CD (album) cover


The Flower Kings


Symphonic Prog

3.89 | 627 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Man Overboard
5 stars I walked through the aisles, hoping for my eye to be caught by the sexy young mistress that I'd take home that night. The rain poured down outside upon that unfamiliar land that was Austin, TX, but the chances I took that night were all inside this building. I'd just moved to Austin a few months before. Most of that time was spent in doorways, finding a substitute for a roof I no longer had. But none of that mattered, I was in my sanctuary, a record store.

"Unfold The Future", a voice called out to me from somewhere in the F's. What? Who the hell are in the F's? Fates Warning, but I'd already exhausted their catalog. I decided to go in for a bit of a look, after all, who doesn't want to unfold their future? I was already sick of the bum life, though I was thankful for the amenities I did have, like my portable CD player, which I'd refused to sell. An off-white angel with beautiful red wings, spread proudly over a deep blue background. An invitation to unfold the future. A steep price of admission; $19.99 would buy me a "special edition".

"This one any good?" I inquired of the sales clerk, who had gotten to know me pretty well. "The hell is that? The Flower Kings? Oh yeah, I heard it's like jazz." "Jazz? You sure? The barcode says File Under Progressive Rock?" "Huh. You wanna try it out first?"

I nodded, and he slit the shrinkwrap. As he loaded the first disc, I took a look at the tracklisting. This seemed... very strange, very strange indeed. Sure, every good prog band wrote an epic on occasion. But how many had two tracks coming up on 30 minutes, and another at 15, all on one album? And those who did... who had 14 OTHER tracks to compliment it?

Failure. That's all this could surely hold in store. Overambitious. Trying too hard. At 19 years of age, I was a bit jaded. And who wouldn't be? Life was miserable. With a somewhat complacent grin, I hit play, ready to deliver a scathing, sarcastic review to the clerk, so he could warn any future inquirers of this album's potential awfulness. It would feel good to rip this overambitious album apart. 2 discs packed full! That would be a QUAD ALBUM by vinyl standards! Even ELP never took it that far!

Hmm. The opening marimbas seemed really rich and warm. Eh, so they hired a good producer. Don Azzaro or some bull like that. But they just kept getting more layered... and that bassist, wow. Who plays like that? And that GUITAR! Okay, maybe this wasn't so bad. Everything was so precise, so calculated... yet, there was an element of danger, of improvisation.

"Guy, you mind if I go ahead and listen to this whole thing? If I make it to disc 2, I'll buy it." "Sure, Erin, whatever. Just be nice to the booklet... if you don't buy it, I don't wanna have to sell it for cheap."

I'm surprised I can remember those words... the music was so engrossing. This vocalist with the soothing, lovely voice. Could this be Roine Stolt? I'd later learn that his name was Hasse Froberg; it was Roine Stolt who provided harmony vocals early in the track, and whose warm, knowledgeable voice caused me to burst into tears when it finally took the lead much later in this half-hour opening track.

I knew at that point that I must own this album. Even if the rest of the tracks were awful, The Truth Will Set You Free threatened to set me free. Gone were the bad memories of the street life; while this album played, I was in another land.

So how did the other tracks end up being so consistantly good? They weren't all "songs" of the traditional sort; indeed, the experiments in improvisation, the explorations of themes established in other tracks, and the insanely complex songs along the lines of Silent Inferno wouldn't be "songs" in the FM radio sense. Instead, they seemed to be a peek inside the mind of a genius that I could hardly fathom. The contasts between tracks, the expert musicianship, the complex polyrhythms and polymetrics, the insanely good melodies... how could I have lived without all of this?

2 years later, life is a lot better. Having travelled through 3 more states and countless towns and cities, life isn't so rough anymore. And this album stayed with me through the entire journey. The Special Edition sleeve is now signed by Stolt, Bodin, and Reingold, while the back bears the signature of new drummer Marcus Liliquist, whose live performance of The Truth sticks with me as strong as any other memory of pure beauty.

Quite frankly, this album is my new standard for beauty and emotion in music. I can see how it might not appeal to people who require standard structures, or traditional songwriting. But I cannot understand how anyone could live without this in their collection. The positivity in the lyrics inspired me to drag myself out of the quagmire I'd allowed my life to fall into. The music inspired me to learn how to play guitar and keyboards. And the overall vibe keeps me positive.

Do yourself a favor, and Unfold The Future sometime. If you take the chance, you're likely to find a bright, warm, delectable future, where all are welcome to live life with love and peace in their hearts.

Man Overboard | 5/5 |


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