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Roine Stolt

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Roine Stolt Hydrophonia album cover
3.97 | 158 ratings | 21 reviews | 25% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1998

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Cosmic Lodge (7:14)
2. Shipbuilding (5:51)
3. Little Cottage by the Sea (4:55)
4. Wreck of HMS Nemesis (11:56)
5. Bizarre Seahorse Sex Attack (6:01)
6. Oceanna Baby Dolphin (3:27)
7. Nuclear Nemo (6:28)
8. Hydrophonia (6:11)
9. Lobsterland Groove (6:19)
10. Seafood Kitchen Thing (9:25)

Total Time 67:46

Line-up / Musicians

- Roine Stolt / guitars, bass, keyboards, percussion, production & mixing

- Ulf Wallander / soprano saxophone
- Jaime Salazar / drums, percussion

Releases information

Artwork: Per Nordin and Hippified Art

CD Foxtrot Records ‎- FOX CD 019 (1998, Sweden)
CD Inside Out Music ‎- IOMCD 047 (1999, Germany)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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ROINE STOLT Hydrophonia ratings distribution

(158 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(25%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(44%)
Good, but non-essential (24%)
Collectors/fans only (6%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

ROINE STOLT Hydrophonia reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by loserboy
4 stars Lovers of "The FLOWER KINGS" will certainly become addicted to this tasty treat of heavy guitar-centric prog. Stolt has written and recorded some pretty sweet and spiritually uplifting music here with real warmth and delivered with some stunning musicianship. "Hydrophonia" is full of STOLT's positive vibes and eye and ear popping guitar work. Roine is supported by Jamie Salazar on the drums/percussion and Ulf Wallander on the sax, but otherwise it is Roine STOLT (guitars, bass, keyboards, percussion). Songs are very well crafted and offer some great musical ranges, tempo and mood changes throughout. An excellent album with some highly memorable songs from this highly creative and talented musician.
Review by Muzikman
5 stars Whom else but the great guitarist, writer, and vocalist, Roine Stolt (The Flower Kings) would ponder why he creates music and in the same breath humbly give a nod to his influences? Then state that the importance of his art is insignificant in terms of the grand scheme of things? After all, we are all stardust in the beginning then we return to that form of existence upon expiration of our existence in this realm. I beg to differ; I think his music is as important as life itself, it is the essence of who we are and it brings us closer to our maker. For me, besides looking into my children's eyes, music is one of the only things that remind me from whence I came. I am sure that Roine would consider every day life as part of his artistry, and in turn, his expressiveness through his music vividly interprets those events. They say that the eyes are the windows to the soul; I think music serves this purpose very well, too.

Hydrophonia is a classic progressive rock instrumental statement from one of the most important and influential guitarists of our time. Although you may not hear his name mentioned in the same frame of reference as a Page or Clapton, Roine Stolt is without any doubt one of the best guitarists to ever pick up the instrument. Because his music is not mainstream, his popularity is not on the level that it should be, but believe me, he belongs in the upper echelon of great musicians of the last decade, and surely beyond as he continues to blaze a path for all of those that yearn to follow his legacy. This album is as strong as anything that he has done with The Flower Kings, and it is also proof positive that he is the musical genius that has propelled his band to great heights that they have reached over the last several years. This solo flight is just as prolific as his work with the band.

Every track is a sonic delight filled with essential progressive energy stemming from rock, pop, jazz, blues, and many other origins of musical and cultural diversity. Listening to the title track pretty much sums up the feelings and sounds that you will become engrossed in while taking in this recording. The song has Middle-Eastern leanings charged with dreamy saxophone and sharp keyboard shades. Stolt is an exceptional virtuoso that plays hard to formulate adventurous naturally rocking melodies. He succeeds in every way. On "Lobesterland Groove," you will find familiarity with the sounds, as they are reminiscent of some of the best Flower Kings material. Those are just two examples from an outstanding album jam packed with high points that are in a perpetual state of escalation and flux within the framework of each song.

I found this album to be exhilarating and consistent in quality from start to finish. It leaves nothing to be desired for substance and meaning. It is a five star outing beyond compare.

Review by MikeEnRegalia
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars This is a remarkable solo album. Like The Flower King, this album obviously sounds much like the Flower Kings, as they are mainly based on Stolt's songwriting. Let me rephrase that - This album sounds like the essence of the Flower Kings. It's so full of beautiful melodies, interesting and sometimes funky rhythms, and very dynamic. Every theme is fully developed and explored here, a quality that many similar albums lack.

Cosmic Lodge: Great track. It kicks off with an epic intro, followed by a short saxophone solo, which soon makes way for Stolt's guitar. The song is based on a funky rhythm of drums and bass, upon which many different and ever changing themes are introduced.

Shipbuilding: A wonderful track, which was also used on the Flower Kings DVD (Meet The Flower Kings) as background music of the tour documentary. It's such a beautiful melody, played by Stolts guitar and a flute.

Little Cottage by the Sea: This was also used on the DVD, and it's a wonderful laid back song that really sounds like the title suggests - listening to it, you literaly see fisher boats, people going about their business in that little cottage.

Wreck of HMS Nemesis: Beautiful baroque-ish melody here in the intro. This is my favorite track on the album, it's an epic, although a short one.

Bizarre Seahorse Sex Attack: This track start's with a beautiful Xylophone riff, and even the melody is underlined with an unisono playing xylophone, much like Zappa used xylophones. It then is varied a bit, using Clavinets and other similar instruments. The melody itself also reminds of Zappa, until about halfway of the song when the drums kick in, when it begins to sound more like a FK song. But then again, the following guitar solo again reminds of Zappa.

Oceanna Baby Dolphin: Beautiful guitar solo in the intro, where Stolt uses the volume knob of the guitar to create a steel guitar sound with his normal guitar. Like Shipbuilding, this is simply a beautiful track.

Nuclear Nemo: This is one of the few tracks that aren't entirely happy and peaceful, it's really dark and brooding at times. Wonderful Bass/Guitar unisono riffs, and some parts even remind of King Crimson. Van der Graaf Generator's "Killer" also comes to my mind here.

Hydrophonia: Wonderful track, but not as colorful as the others.

Lobsterland Groove: This is a track that you could dance to. It starts with the bass drum playing straight 4ths, and no snare. The bass plays a funky line, and Porcupine Tree comes to my mind - except that the melodies and rhythm instruments are more like Zappa-influenced Jazz-Fusion. And indeed, the songs features a lengthy saxophone improvisation.

Seafood Kitchen Thing: Finally, we get a real up-tempo track. Many themes of the previous songs are picked up here in form of multi-voice guitar solos. About half way through the song, there is a nice Zappa quote ... I leave it to you to find it. And later, a guitar solo that sounds like a mixture of Zappa and Vai. This is really a great way to finish a remarkable album.

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Everyone knows that Roine Stolt - whom altogether with Tomas Bodin have been the masterminds of The Flower Kings - is a genius composer and guitar player. But only through this album I can see that he can play other instruments excellently including: bass, keyboard and percussion. No one would argue about his capability in composing an excellent music, singing and playing excellent guitar work. Indeed he is also excellent in translating his composition into an excellent music with many of instruments were played by himself. To reduce production cost? It might be but that's not the point that I'm making. Even with his own work he can deliver excellent music by playing multi instruments in this beautifully crafted album.

"Cosmic Lodge" (7:13) kicks the album off with a reasonably long and nice guitar work accompanied with keyboard at the background which sometimes sounds like a church organ sound followed with a continuous music stream with firm bass lines and drum beats. What follow is an alternate play between sax and guitar melody in a beautiful composition. I can feel the sound of The Flower Kings minus vocal line. It's a wonderfully composed music, performed flawlessly the musicians. "Shipbuilding" (5:51) starts in a slow tempo featuring quite straight forward electric guitar melody with simple arrangement on rhythm section. The music changes during chorus and returns back as the original rhythm section. "Little Cottage by The Sea" is Roine's exploration of guitar and keyboard minus drum beats and bass. "Wreck of HMS Nemesis" (11:55) is a track that reminds me to Patrick Moraz and Syrinx collaborative album "Coexistence" that used pan pipe. This track is opened with pan pipe / flute work continued with alto sax augmented with guitar, accentuated by drum work. Overall, this song demonstrates a nice combination of guitar and sax, augmented with keyboards. The ending part is truly excellent as it reaches uplifting mood.

"Bizarre Seahorse Sex Attack" (6:00) is composed in similar vein with the opening track - in terms of structure and style. The only difference, it starts with slow tempo music exploring keyboard and the followed by stunning guitar work. "Oceanna Baby Dolphin" (3:26) is a sweet music with soft touch in keyboard and guitar. "Nuclear Nemo" (6:27) brings the music back into an uplifting mood with a blast of music with Genesis- influence style. The music flows in a floating style accompanying great guitar work, augmented with keyboard. It's a very interesting track; energetic and dynamic. "Hydrophonia" (6:11) begins with an explorative keyboard sounds followed with chanting and soft keyboard solo in quiet passage augmented with guitar fills. The electric guitar provides melody that brings the music to flow in slow tempo, featuring alto sax work. AS far as style, this track is the most symphonic compared to other tracks. "Lobsterland Groove" (6:19) is an interesting track that gives an excellent combination of guitar, sax, percussion and bass guitar. It's an excellent composition and very enjoyable - especially on the rocking guitar work and sax solo. I really enjoy this track. The album concludes with "Seafood Kitchen Thing" (9:25) which has an intriguing intro and relatively fast speed music with keyboard sound effects followed with stunning electric guitar solo. It's a great closure!

On musicianship, other than Roine himself, I think Ulf Wallander plays his soprano saxophone wonderfully where his work has transcended the soul of the music excellently through smooth and soft sax playing. Jaime Salazar is an excellent drummer as you might have heard his contribution in early The Flower Kings albums.

It's an excellent addition to any prog collection. Recommended. Don't miss this CD if you really like the music of The Flower Kings. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Review by Zitro
4 stars 3 3/4 stars

A well-produced jazz fusion album that features the guitar as the prominent instrument. All songs have imagery of oceans or anything undersea instrumentally (since there are no vocals in this album). Roine handles not only the guitars, but also the bass and the keyboards very well. The production is excellent, and it contains Roine's guitar playing at his best.

Cosmic Lodge is a fine starter with the main theme played in the intro, then going into longish jazz-fusion soloing. I love his keyboard work too here, with powerful church organs near the end. The main theme closes this very interesting song.

Shipbuilding has some of the best melodies of this album and is overall pretty catchy. This is a pretty accessible track, but unfortunately doesn't grow on you.

Litle Cottage of the Sea is a bit longer than it should be. It's just an extremely mellow theme repeated over and over and developed to death. The bass playing is surprisingly good though (IT's not Roine's main instrument)

Wreck of HMS Nemesis is the best song in the album. The main theme is played again with variations until a chilling riff is played 4 times, which is followed by an amazing musical theme. If only the album was as good and focused as this intro. A great guitar/sax/keyboard short-epic of jazz-fusion that doesn't lose momentum in its long duration.

Bizarre Seahorse Sex Attack is surely a strange name, and the song sounds a bit lighthearted. This is a Zappa-styled jazz rocker with influences of Flower King songs like Unorthodox Dancing Lesson and Circus Brimstone. If you don't like those influences and Frank Zappa, you may not like this, but you can't deny the guitar work is phenomenal.

Oceanna Blue Dolphin is a beautiful laid-back track with a good sense of melody.

Nuclear Nemo is the hard-hitting "in your face" dynamic song and is an instant classic and the last highlight of the album. The main riff is incredibly menacing, and I love the guitar/sax frenzied playing. The second half is mellower, but is developed into a powerful finale that ends up on a fade-out.

Hydrophonia is worthy of being the title track as it contains good melodies and impressive song arrangements. This song is less jazzy and more symphonic in style and sounds like a track that could have made it in The Flower Kings' Space Revolver.

Lobsterland Groove is driven by a very addictive and danceable groove. The instrumentation is very well laid out and offers a vast array of musical ideas. I just love this song.

Seafood Kitchen Thing is the heavy and epic finale of the album. IT brings the album to a close finely, but i get a bit tired of the recycled Cosmic Lodge theme all over the song, and I don't like the heavy intro with the woman's screams (or orgasms?).

Overall, a very well-executed jazz-fusion instrumental album. If you are a lover of jazz fusion and/or masterful guitar playing dominating the music and/or a Frank Zappa fan, I highly recommend this album.

Highlights: Wreck of HMS Nemesis, Nuclear Nemo, Hydrophonia, Lobsterland Groove

Let Downs: Little Cottage By The Sea.

My Grade: B-

Review by chessman
4 stars This album really is something! Once again, Roine Stolt shows off his ability to compose catchy, fluent and inspiring music with what seems like minimal effort. Unlike his previous record, the magnificent 'The Flower King', this is a totally instrumental album. As before, Stolt handles all guitars, basses & keyboards himself, and some percussion too. Jaime Salazar is again in charged of the drum kit, and acquits himself splendidly. (I rate Salazar highly, but all The Flower Kings drummers are superb.) Ulf Wallander again appears on soprano sax. But the main man is Stolt. There isn't a weak track here. 'Cosmic Lodge', which opens proceedings, is powerful stuff with an almost anthemic beginning and end, whilst inbetween his playing is simply superb. His bass playing shows that he did indeed start out as a bass player, and his keyboards are not to be sniffed at either. But his lead guitar work is stunning. He is surely one of the greats on the instrument. The chord changes behind the lead lines are interesting too, I find. This is almost an emotional instrumental, yet at the same time precise and technical. 'Shipbuilding' has a ridiculously catchy melody with some nice Howe-like touches and flourishes, whilst Salazar shines particularly well here. 'Little Cottage By The Sea' slows the whole thing right down. It is gentle and atmospheric, and you can almost hear the waves lapping against the shore on this one. This track doesn't sound particularly complex, in fact it sounds quite repetitive in a way and simple, yet it manages to build in soft layers throughout the song, guitars flitting here and there like butterflies, little fills and gentle strumming combining to produce an almost ethereal effect. Wonderful stuff! 'Wreck Of The HMS Nemesis' lasts for almost 12 minutes, yet never flags or lets you lose interest. There seem to be more keyboards on this one, whilst the guitar work at times is almost used as a background instrument, not flashy yet well played. Around the five and a half minute mark, however, comes some super refined and beautiful playing, laid over an almost waltz-like rhythm. More keyboards follow, with the guitar playing all sorts of counter lines. This track, near the end, brings to mind The Flower Kings, but that is not surprising, is it? 'Bizarre Seahorse Sex Attack' is another beauty that grows on you. (I love the titles of the tracks on this album, all are to do with the sea, all are weird, and all are memorable!) This seems to start off with some type of marimba playing. I don't know why, but the melody and tone here reminds me of a children's piece, maybe involving teddy bears! Also, the composer/musician Tomita comes to my mind. But that may just be me. Lots of instruments are in action here, crossing over and through each other with ease and sounding quite captivating. When the guitar kicks in, with some nice wah wah, it does so in a most effective way, and at the end Wallander's sax helps the song wind down to an interesting halt. 'Oceanna Baby Dolphin' is probably, if I had to choose, my least favourite track, but there is certainly nothing wrong with it. Some background acoustic guitar work on this one overlays an almost laid back military drum style. The lead guitar is nicely played, as are the keyboards, whilst the bass is interesting. But the song doesn't quite hold my attention as well as the others do. Still not bad though. 'Nuclear Nemo' drifts in, explodes a little, then settles down to a menacing style, as the title might suggest. Driving bass and intricate drumming mix powerfully with Stolt's biting guitar. Three and a half minutes in the piece slows down, and guitar, bass and keyboards, along with the sax, provide a suspensful mood. The track ends in this slightly surreal way. 'Hydrophonia' begins gently, sweeping in on string synths, following which appears a brief snatch of female chorus effects, and then Stolt's guitar kicks in for another anthemic piece. The melody snarls and howls, before something strange happens at the two and a half minute mark: Steve Hackett appears! Yes, Stolt's guitar almost becomes Hackett, as he plays in a very similar style here. And breathtaking it is too. One of my favourite tracks this one. The main melody, along with the female-like chorus reappears at the five min mark, and the whole gels together seamlessly, before the Hackett-like guitar work fades out, accompanied by some sax. 'Lobsterland Groove' is another stand out piece. For some reason, this sounds to me very retro. The sort of track you may hear in a disco or nightclub in the '70s, but in a good way. The guitar almost sounds like the brass section at the one and a half minute mark. Percussion is wonderful here, both Salazar and Stolt in fine form. Wallander supplies some tasty sax from the two minute 20 mark, before the main guitar melody re- emerges. From four mins fifty five the guitar just takes off, with some almost jazzy playing, again with a touch of Howe, before supplying some searing lead lines as the track fades out. Brilliant. Finally, 'Seafood Kitchen Thing' ends the album. This, at nine minutes twenty five, is the second longest track on offer. An uptempo piece, it is classic Stolt/early Flower Kings in texture/composition. Salazar is again wonderful here, leading the line with some driving drumming. From the five minute mark, the whole thing seems to almost pause, allowing Stolt to supply some simply superb guitar work, bass work, and even some nice piano touches.The entire track builds up again to a fitting climax before winding down from the seven and a half minute mark to end with some short, tasty licks. Water is heard at the end, then footsteps and the impression is given that someone is approaching the recording equipment to turn it off. For Stolt fans, this is a must. It is a little different from The Flower Kings, but still recognisable as from that stable. It again showcases his talent for songwriting, and is a cd all lovers of instrumental guitar albums will love. The guitar work is inspiring, yet the melodies are never bogged down in a sea of overplaying, unlike a Steve Vai album. Easily four stars.
Review by progrules
3 stars I always regarded Roine Stolt one of the best, if not the best, guitar player in the world. He plays the instrument just how I like it, with much energy and virtuosity and producing beautiful melodic solos.

But what I don't understand with this album is that when you have such enormous potential as a musician you do so little with it. Hydrophonia starts off with (by far) the best tune of the entire album, Cosmic Lodge, and I can still remember the first time I listened to this album, I was anxiously waiting for the next great guitar effort, but it wasn't coming !

The rest of the album is full of sweet sounding material but I can detect no more great energetic guitar playing. So I'm afraid I have to consider this as a disappointment, but that's just my personal taste and feeling about it. I'm not saying this is a bad album or this is poor music. I think Roine Stolt is too great a musician to produce poor stuff. Because of this all I will give 3 stars for this.

Review by Mellotron Storm
3 stars Roine Stolt (like Neal Morse) seems to have this endless supply of music to share with the world. He actually dedicates this album to "Frank Zappa, Miles Davis, Jimi Hendrix, John Lennon, Jon Anderson, Charles Mingus, George Gershwin, Allan Holdsworth and the artist formerly known as Prince." Roine is pretty much a one man band here except for help on sax from Ulf Wallander,and drums and percussion from Jaime Salazar. This is a good instrumental album, but in my opinion it's not nearly as good as his debut "The Flower King".

"Cosmic Lodge" is my favourite, probably because it is the closest he comes to sounding like THE FLOWER KINGS. A rather dramatic intro as the guitar soars. It turns jazzy 1 1/2 minutes in.The guitar is great, and I really like the mellotron that comes and goes. The bass is also prominant played by Roine. They get back to the original melody 6 minutes in as the guitar soars with lots of mellotron. Nice. "Shipbuilding" has a catchy, uptempo 2 minute intro. It then settles down but starts to build. Back to original melody 4 minutes in. "Little Cottage By The Sea" is a pastoral track with the sounds of birds, acoustic guitar, piano and sax.

"Wreck Of HMS Nemesis" opens on a bad note for me. Not a fan. It calms down before 2 minutes, sax follows. Kicks back in with more sax. I like the melody 6 minutes in of intricate guitar and drums. "Bizarre Seahorse Sex Attack" features what sounds like xylphone (percussion?).Guitar and drums end up leading the way. "Oceanna Baby Dolphin" has a country flavour to the intro. Not a fan of this one. "Nuclear Nemo" is one I like once it gets going. The bass and drums are great. Prominant sax 5 minutes in. "Hydrophonia" has some nice soaring guitar in it and mellotron as well. Sax ends it. "Lobsterland Groove" has a nice beat to it with sax. "Seafood Kitchen Thing" has a good uptempo beat as guitar plays tastefully over top.

A good album but I would take just about any FLOWER KINGS record over this one.

Review by The Truth
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars This album is possibly contains the best instumentals Roine Stolt has ever released, solo or with the Flower Kings! Stolt shows in each song that he somehow has the ability to mold himself into pretty much the perfect guitarist, showing influences of David Gilmour, Steve Howe, and Brian May all in one breath. I'm a big fan of the concept album and although there are no lyrics in this album I still sense a concept is present. All of the song titles have something to do with the ocean, (except Cosmic Lodge, don't know how to explain that one,) and at times it is hard to tell that the song has changed, (kind of like Floyd albums,). Tracks that stand out to me are Bizarre Seahorse Sex Attack which is almost Zappa-like, the epic Wreck of HMS Nemesis, and the title track.
Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
4 stars Roine Stoldt seems incapable of delivering a bad album. Here, the unstoppable prog guitarist has given us an album of instrumental pieces, featuring himself, Jaime Salazar on drums and percussion and Ulf Wallander on soprano saxophone. While Wallander's sax sometimes brings the music dangerously close to new age territory, none of the songs fall over that precipice.

My favorite tracks on the album are Wreck of HMS Nemesis, which begins with a Gryphon-like medeival theme, but then morphs though all sorts of styles, Bizarre Seahorse Sex Attack, an obvious Frank Zappa homage, and Lobsterland Groove, and oddly infectuous dance/trance composition.

While this album is not quite as good as "The Flower King", it's close enough to a four star release to get that rating.

Review by Tarcisio Moura
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.

Review by b_olariu
3 stars Roine Stolt is without doubt one of the most important figures in progressive rock movement in Sweden in the '70s soon becoming one of Europe leaders with The Flower KIngs. Composer, guitarist and singer Roine Stolt has his own style of playing the guitar since he was part in legendary Kaipa. With beautiful smooth blistering guitar chops remind me of Hackett combined with virtuosic escapades of Howe, Stolt is one of the most influencial musician in last decades in prog for sure. After living Kaipa in late 1979, he formed Fantasia with 2 albums in their pockets and then disbanded, Stolt optaing for a solo career. But, with the revival in the '90 of prog music and specially Sweden who was and is one of the leaders in this bussines, and because of this boom Stolt formed The Flower Kings and since early 90s this band was and is an instant succes world wide. Beside succesful career with TFK and colaborations with super group Transatlantic, his solo career was aswell marked with a new studio album named Hydrophonia, released in 1999. This album is instrumental with many memorable parts, for example the opening track Cosmic Lodge is absolutly killer, some very refreshing ideas here even the sound of the album overall doesn't apart much from TFK fame, even in places are some very faine spacey Gilmoureish guitar chops of the highest calibre.The music is varied, catchy and has all the ingredients to be fairly solid among prog fans, we have jazzy fusion passages, funky parts, spacey escapdaes all garnised with Stolt brightly ideas. Besides guita he is aswell a very acomplished keybord player, there are some really memorable parts on this album. All in all this album is good towards great, I really like it, is entertaining and has no low point.. 3.5 stars for sure, a well worthy release from this already legendary musician.

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars "Hydrophonia" is the 5th full-length studio album by Swedith progressive rock artists Roine Stolt. The album was released through InsideOut Music in 1998. At this point in time Roine Stolt experienced great success with his main act The Flower Kings, but he had been an active musician since the mid-70s. First as a member of progressive Swedish rock act Kaipa and in the 80s as a solo artist. However it wasnt until he released his 4th full-length studio album "The Flower King (1994)", that things really began to happen.

"Hydrophonia" is not a continuation of the progressive rock sound on "The Flower King (1994)", which is a sound Roine Stolt further cultivated with The Flower Kings. "Hydrophonia" is still a progressive rock album, but its fully instrumental and incorporate stylistic elements from as different genres as new age, jazz/rock, progressive rock, folk and medieval music. There is a reoccuring marine theme in songtitles like "Shipbuilding", "Bizarre Seahorse Sex Attack" and "Lobsterland Groove", but other than that the music doesnt necessarily makes me think of oceans, boats and whales.

Roine Stolt takes care of guitars, bass, keyboards and percussion on the album. He has recruited Jaime Salazar (drums, percussion) and Ulf Wallander (soprano saxophone) to help him out in the few areas where his multi-instrumental skills arent sufficient. The musicianship is not surprisingly on a very high level. The sound production which is credited to Roine Stolts pseudonym Don Azzaro, is professional, pleasent and organic and generally sounds like the sound productions on contemporary Flower Kings albums.

Although there are some energetic moments and even a couple of atonal solos and themes on the album, "Hydrophonia" is generally a pretty laidback, sweet and uplifting listen. It doesnt always possess a lot of depth and quite a few of the tracks very quickly become pleasant background listening (or if Im a bit more critical: "high level muzak") and at 67:42 minutes I think "Hydrophonia" does drag on for too long. If Roine Stolt had cut the fat (read: the most new age/muzak sounding parts) and released a 40 minutes long album instead and I think "Hydrophonia" would have been a better and more enjoyable listen. Still its a relatively enjoyable listen and certainly a professional sounding release and a 3 star (60%) rating is warranted.

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Back in the mid to late Nineties and the early days of Swedish retro symphonic proggers The Flower Kings, there was none of the unofficial hiatuses and several year breaks in between releases that befall the band now! Founding member and ex-Kaipa guitarist Roine Stolt was a flurry of activity, which included putting out this hugely charming sixth solo work in 1998, the frequently aquatic themed `Hydrophonia'. An all instrumental affair, the album is impossibly optimistic, colourfully playful and, most of all, deeply romantic symphonic prog, unsurprisingly frequently driven by Mr Stolt's grand guitar runs (although he does double on keyboards, percussion and bass here too). Stolt is ably backed by early Flower Kings drummer Jaime Salazar and frequent collaborator Ulf Wallander, who's wind instruments of flute and sax were great standouts of the early FK albums, and together here they create a grand aural canvass of colour and taste.

Looking at some of the highlights, `Cosmic Lodge' sets a template for much of the disc with Roine delivering slow-burn grandiose soloing and triumphant fanfares full of regal majesty, slinking bass, magical mellotron bursts and booming church organ. `Shipbuilding' is whimsical and dreamy, there's folky sophistication by way of drowsy weeping guitar throughout `Little Cottage by the Sea', and `Wreck of HMS Nemesis' is full of majestic fanfares with plenty of striking saxophone themes, big grumbling bass runs, dramatic Mellotron blasts and alternating acoustic and electric guitar passages. `Bizarre Seahorse Sex Attack' (Coolest. Title. EVER!) bristles with psychedelic quirky playfulness (and has a lovely ambient outro too), and `Oceanna Baby Dolphin' is a lullaby-like reflective and gentle symphonic theme.

`Nucleur Nemo' attacks with brooding King Crimson-esque clanging jagged noise and maddening ascending guitar bite with gloomy dark jazz, and the title track offers classic-era Genesis reaching Steve Hackett-like guitar strains. Parts of `Lobsterland Groove' reveal a jazz/fusion diversion that could have easily come from any of the classic spiritual era Santana band releases of `Caravanserai', `Welcome' and `Borboletta' (just listen for that glistening electric piano), and Stolt even delivers some fiery guitar in the easily recognisable style of Carlos in the final minutes. `Seafood Kitchen Thing' is a spirited, up-tempo and frequently cheerful reprise of themes from throughout the album to end on, meaning the listener leaves in a great mood with a big smile on their face!

It might perhaps be a little repetitive and samey in just a few spots, and it isn't nearly as complex and varied as many of the Flower Kings album would eventually become, but if you enjoy proudly symphonic and retro-styled instrumental progressive rock, then this is the disc for you. `Hydrophonia' skilfully marries Roine's vintage prog influences with his epic guitar flights of fancy, and it's sure to be welcomed fondly by fans of both Mr Stolt himself and the early albums by the Flower Kings.

Three and a half stars, rounded up to four.

Latest members reviews

5 stars Fantastic landscapes of Scandinavia and majestic mascarade of Edvard Grieg`s personages.. No politics & crimes, no rights and wrongs only true fairy watercolors of sound. Its different from the Flower King and it`s so great on it`s own - lovely tembres, mellow "90s Prog" era sound. I do enjoy so ... (read more)

Report this review (#2137741) | Posted by MalenaRoss | Tuesday, February 19, 2019 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Great instrumental album! Pure treasure for all prog fans! 10 times better than wall street woodo, or latest alchemist. It's a pity that Mr. Roine has stopped producing albums like this one. Unfortunately the same is with the Flower Kings releases.. Album is full of lovely Scandinavian prog atmosphe ... (read more)

Report this review (#1953110) | Posted by Trinity S | Sunday, July 29, 2018 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Roine Stolt's second solo album sees a slight decrease in the amount of guitar and a marked increase in saxophone. Whether or not Roine was pushing for a more jazzy sound, he definitely achieved it here. Like 'The Flower King', the melodies and arrangements are superb. I would say while there is ... (read more)

Report this review (#820847) | Posted by Mr. Mustard | Friday, September 14, 2012 | Review Permanlink

5 stars no one else i can think of could achieve such majectical magic and ceanic muscial perfection...what we have here is pure genius folks....each song somehow represents the themes of the ocean but it never actually uses any sounds from the ocean....its bizarre.....every song is still very melodic ... (read more)

Report this review (#261334) | Posted by EVE123 | Sunday, January 17, 2010 | Review Permanlink

3 stars This record has it's fine moments and his bad. Cosmic lodge is a great start, Roine Stolt shows what he is capable of, here. Some melodies are a bit annoying, but globally it's a nice start. Shipbuilding dissapointed me, the melodies are annoying and stay, there are a few nice parts in the middl ... (read more)

Report this review (#177962) | Posted by Foolsdrummer | Wednesday, July 23, 2008 | Review Permanlink

3 stars I'm a big fan of the Flower Kings, and particularly of their many instrumental numbers (and instrumental parts of songs and epics). So you'd think this would be a no brainer. However, this is not quite the masterful guitar album one might expect from someone of Stolt's skills. There is great gu ... (read more)

Report this review (#155227) | Posted by infandous | Wednesday, December 12, 2007 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Excellent album. Ronnie Stolt gets besides The Flower Kings to create this instrumental album, which sound is quite different from that of The Flower Kings. OK, it has similarities, maybe the same style or whatever, and the inevitable Stolt's guitar. But clearly this is not The Flower Kings. ... (read more)

Report this review (#127734) | Posted by Proglodita | Friday, July 6, 2007 | Review Permanlink

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