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Roine Stolt - Hydrophonia CD (album) cover


Roine Stolt


Symphonic Prog

3.97 | 158 ratings

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Tarcisio Moura
Prog Reviewer
5 stars It took me a long time to write this review. I knew that I would probably like this album since I loved Stolt´s previous one so much (The Flower King). But I must say I was a bit skeptical to get Hydrophonia. In my mind the question was obvious: would he reach the heighs of The Flower King? But when I heard that this one was a totally instrumental album I had to get it. After all, who wouldn´t like to see how a Flower King album would sound if they were a purely instrumental band? After all sometimes the lyrics and voices dsitract us from the fact that those guys are outstanding musicians in a genre full of outstanding musicians. So the answer for both questions is yes. He did live up to my high hopes. And Hydrophonia does sound like a Flower King album. And not just one, but one of their very best. Let´s see.

The first thing that amazed me is the fact that there are only 3 people playing here: ex TFK Jaime Salazar on drums and percussion, long time friend and also a constant presence on most TFK albums Ulf Wallander on soprano sax and Stolt himself on guitars, keyboards, bass and percussion. The second was that while Stolt is defintly renown for his skills on guitar, few people noticed he is also an accomplished keyboards player and bassist. However, his biggest asset lays on his songwriting: who else could penned over 67 minutes of music for a solo album (not forgetting he also writes 90% of everything TFK records) and make it so good it holds your atention all the way through the CD? Yes, the music here is varied, complex, creative, catching, symphonic and will please everyone who happens to like fine music. As usual his influences are easy to see: 70´s symphonic prog (Yes, Genesis, King Crimson), jazz, fusion, classical music and even some avant guard and experimentalisms a la Frank Zappa. And yet he not only recycles them (that damned retro label!), but turn it into a music of his own. Somehow this statement is clearer when you hear it without the vocals.

The production is top notch, but the playing is superb: this instrumental work is an excellent opportunity for Stolt to exercise his terrific skills as the great musician he surely is. While it seems unlikely that he can extract the best from such elaborate songs doing most of the instrumentation himself, you won´t miss any outside help in any department. Of course there are some slight differences from a typical TFK record, as there are no vocals and the fact that Wallander has more freedom to play, giving this CD a more jazzy feeling. Again it is incredible how the general atmosphere of the record is that of a team efford, rather than a solo output.

The quality of the tracks varies from very good to brilliant. In my opinion the first two, Cosmic Lodge and Shipbuilding are among his best ever. Simply beautiful!

Conclusion: extremely elaborated, yet pleasant to the ears and highly addictive. Hydrophonia is a timeless piece of music that will probably show future generations that prog music was alive and very well represented in the 90´s. it is also a proof of the genius of Roine Stot as a musician and songwriter.

One of the best prog albums of all time.

Rating: 5 stars with honors.

Tarcisio Moura | 5/5 |


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