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


The Future Kings Of England

Psychedelic/Space Rock

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Mellotron Storm
4 stars I think what sets this album apart from their previous releases is how haunting this can get. It's based on the chilling short story by M.R. James called "Oh Whistle And I'll Come To You Lad". Simon the drummer states that the music here taps into a person's primoridal fear, especially the title track.

"Journey To The Coast" has this light wimsical melody as the birds sing away. Yes we are driving to the coast. A train comes rushing by making a powerful sound as it drowns out all other noises. "The Globe Inn" has a Post-Rock vibe as the guitar is picked and drums beat. Laid back vocals follow. An early FLOYD-like soundscape takes over before 3 minutes and the organ joins in. "Finding The Whistle" builds in sound with acoustic guitar leading the way with a repetitive melody. It fades out and we can hear somone walking and the sounds of waves. "Watcher Part 1" is a short, relaxed vocal track.

"Who Is This Who Is Coming ?" has these deep spacey sounds that echo. We get a change 3 minutes in with dramatic piano, mellotron and more. Lots of atmosphere. We can hear someone walking as the haunting atmosphere continues. It sounds like mellotron choirs before an alarm bell goes off to end it. "Convinced Disbeliever" is a fairly heavy track with lots of drums. There is contrasting mellotron and atmosphere. "Watcher Part 2" has reserved vocals as distorted organ along with drums play in the background. It turns lighter with acoustic guitar late. "A Face Of Crumpled Linen" opens with the wind blowing as guitar and more build. Drums 2 minutes in but it does settle back before kicking in again late. "Spectacle Of A Scarecrow" has Post-Rock styled guitar and it turns dreamy late with strange sounds too.

I do prefer this over their previous album but I still consider the debut to be their high water mark. On the other hand I would say that all of their records are worth getting.

Report this review (#634825)
Posted Thursday, February 16, 2012 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars THE FUTURE KINGS OF ENGLAND was, until a few years ago, one of British rock's hidden secrets. But following three well received full length productions a greater variety of people have become aware of their endeavors, and when their fourth disc "Who Is This Who Is Coming" was released towards the end of 2011 it was a CD many had eagerly been awaiting.

70's oriented progressive rock is what The Future Kings of England are masters of, lightly flavoring the proceedings with psychedelic and post rock details, frequently inserting subtle details or distinct sequences of a pastoral nature and liberally flavoring the end result with Mellotron and vintage sounding keyboards. Those who know about the band from previous occasions can safely purchase this latest disc; those unfamiliar with the band are advised to check them out, at least if some of the descriptions given sound enticing.

Report this review (#772940)
Posted Sunday, June 17, 2012 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This is really more of a soundtrack to the chilling short story by M.R. James called "Oh Whistle And I'll Come To You Lad." The music matches up amazingly well with the story, progressively getting scarier with each song. The band has diverged quite a bit from the Post Rock/Math Rock/Psychedelia of a few years ago.

1. "Journey to the Coast" (2:04). The arrival in the bucolic East Anglia beachside town is well represented with this folksy mandolin-based tune. There is even a track in the song dedicated to songbirds sounds! Feels like a place that I'd like to visit! (8/10)

2. "The Globe Inn" (4:26). Organ, simple drums and notes slowly picked on a guitar are superceded in the B section by eerie synths and voices. Decending guitar scales and reversed guitar and organ enter for a kind of C coda before the B part returns. Very BLIND FAITH-like. A lull at 2:14 allows the eery bass line to present, alone, before the band returns with a doubled-up lead bottle-neck guitar solo in the vein of ERIC CLAPTON or even GEORGE HARRISON takes over. Then, out of the blue, at 3:18, a very cool, very powerful and fully CAMEL-like 'controlled' crescendo section takes over till end of song. (9/10)

3. "Finding the Whistle" (2:01) is a lot like a GENESIS interlude song from The Lamb. (9/10)

4. "Watcher Part 1" (1:56) sounds as if ROY ORBISON, FLEET FOXES, GREEN LINNETT RECORDS, and MIKE OLDFIELD all collaborated. Very cool song. (10/10)

5. "Who Is This Who Is Coming?" (9:09) opens with very odd bending synth notes, joined by sustained fuzzy guitar notes. It has a bit of an Ambient ENO feel to it for the first two minutes. Add horn-like and girl-screaming synth notes until at 2:57 an non-English-sounding male voice says something which ushers in a new eery theme of music--though it's really more like a scary movie soundtrack, complete with samples of clock ticking and someone's boots trampsing through tall grass. At 5:34 a slow synthesizer section begins--using sounds like TANGERINE DREAM. Long-held acoustic guitar strums and more synthesizer play join in. Eery and synth mastery. (8/10)

6. "Convinced Disbeliever" (3:59) begins with the alarm of a windup clock. Guitar power chords and drumming sounding like IRON BUTTERFLY or BLACK SABBATH enter. Cheesy switch at 0:58 to B part. The music is rather "B movie"-ish. At least until the all-too-brief, but wonderful OLDFIELD-like guitar solo at the 1:38 mark. Return of cheesy two-chord rock theme. Give it lyrics and it would fit right onto an early 1970s SABBATH/BUTTERFLY/or even GRAND FUNK album. I guess it works. I'm smiling, though I might be cringing. (7/10)

7. "Watcher Part 2" (1:59) begins like a ELP song, GREG LAKE sing while being harmonized by another GREG LAKE-like b vocalist. Very nicely done. Could be a TRAFFIC or STRAWBS tune, too. (9/10)

8. "A Face of Crumpled Linen" (10:17) begins with the recorded sound of wind buckling at the windows and doors. Guitar, bass, and synth introduce a theme which is then taken over by a different keyboard sound. Cymbol play begins and then full drum play as bass and guitar play establish quite a nice groove over which portamento synth plays. Additional guitar and tracks (two that I count) enter, one strumming a partially muted strum, the other playing a distorted, untuned lead. By 4:30 all instruments have faded away leaving an organ-sounding synth slowly forming odd diatonic chords by moving an upper note against an unchanging mid-keyboard note. At 6:20 full band returns in a kind of TANGERINE DREAM/PINK FLOYD style. (The instruments are all recorded in quite a raw, under- processed and not-necessarily cohesive way.) Things quiet down again briefly before letting an electric guitar arpeggio take over the base rhythm. Drum and synth play build before horns and the full band comes crashing in for a kick ass groove--but only for the final minute. Then the groove--and the song-- end quite suddenly! (9/10)

9. "Spectacle of a Scarecrow" (5:54) begins with an electric guitar establishing a chord progression with arpeggios. When the full band joins in it is with a fury that quite reminds me of CRAIG SAFAN's ripping "Confrontation" from TANGERINE DREAM's soundtrack of Michael Mann's 1981 movie, Thief. (9/10)

While the music here is sometimes not so proggy, more soundtrack-like, and often reaches back to styles and sounds (even production value) of the early 1970s, it is a really admirable rendering of a story to music. One to experience, say, alone in a shack on a stormy night. One of the few albums I've heard that is actually better without headphones.

4.5 stars; a near masterpiece.

Report this review (#847402)
Posted Tuesday, October 30, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars Review Nş 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*)

Report this review (#2166149)
Posted Friday, March 15, 2019 | Review Permalink

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