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ROINE STOLT

Symphonic Prog • Sweden


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Roine Stolt biography
Roine STOLT (aka Dexter Frank Jr., Don Azzaro) - Born September 5, 1956 (Uppsala, Sweden)

A major figure in Sweden's rock history, guitarist/singer/composer Roine STOLT led two of his country's most successful progressive rock bands: KAIPA in the 1970s and THE FLOWER KINGS in the 1990s onward. His distinctive guitar style combined David GILMOUR's debonair mid-tempo, Steve HOWE's sharp edges, and Frank ZAPPA's virtuosity. His vision of a positive world governed by beauty (akin to Yes's singer Jon ANDERSON) gave his music an aura that appealed to many progressive rock fans.

Roine STOLT started playing bass in the late '60s in local rock cover bands. He quickly discovered the burgeoning British progressive rock scene and had switched to electric guitar by the summer of 1974 when, at age 17, he became the lead guitarist of the professional prog rock band KAIPA. This band recorded three albums for the Decca label (reissued on CD by Musea) and is still considered to be the most important Scandinavian prog act of the '70s.

STOLT left KAIPA in 1979 to form his own group, FANTASIA, who recorded two albums and disbanded in 1983 after a second, more commercially oriented LP for Warner. STOLT then started to work as a session musician and record producer, drifting away from symphonic rock esthetics, something very obvious on his Hall and Oates-like 1985 solo album, "Behind the Walls" (his first performance as a lead singer) and "The Lonely Heartbeat", released in 1989 under the name STOLT.

Witnessing the progressive rock revival of the 1990s, a movement that partly originated from Sweden with bands like LANDBERK and ANGLAGARD, Roine STOLT was quick to come back to his ancient love. Recruiting ex-Jonas Hellborg drummer Jaime Salazar and ex-SAMLA MAMMAS MANNA percussionist Hasse Bruniusson, he released The FLOWER KINGS in August 1994. Stimulated by the warm response, he enlisted brother Michael Stolt (bass, vocals) and longtime friend Tomas BODIN (keyboards) and formed the FLOWER KINGS, which would remain his principal musical project for years to come.

At the helm of the FLOWER KINGS, STOLT experienced international fame as the band became, with U.S.A.'s SPOCK'S BEARD, the best-selling 1990s prog rock act. Albums were released at an incredible rate: six studio albums (including two two-CD sets) in the band's first six years of ...
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ROINE STOLT top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.20 | 37 ratings
Fantasia
1979
1.75 | 8 ratings
Fantasia
1982
1.98 | 22 ratings
Behind the Walls
1985
2.02 | 21 ratings
The Lonely Heartbeat
1989
4.15 | 315 ratings
The Flower King
1994
3.97 | 155 ratings
Hydrophonia
1998
3.57 | 151 ratings
Wall Street Voodoo
2005
3.46 | 100 ratings
The Flower King: Manifesto of an Alchemist
2018

ROINE STOLT Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

ROINE STOLT Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

ROINE STOLT Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

ROINE STOLT Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

0.00 | 0 ratings
Din Cigarrett
1982
0.00 | 0 ratings
Gammal Fäbodspalm
1987
0.00 | 0 ratings
Burning Bridges
1987
3.00 | 1 ratings
Big Daddy
1988
0.00 | 0 ratings
Stranger (In My Own House)
1988
3.00 | 2 ratings
Utopia
1990
0.00 | 0 ratings
Crawl Like an Animal
1991

ROINE STOLT Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 The Flower King by STOLT, ROINE album cover Studio Album, 1994
4.15 | 315 ratings

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The Flower King
Roine Stolt Symphonic Prog

Review by DangHeck

4 stars If we had any question as to who the Monarch was here...

I'm not going to necessarily shy away from the fact that I'm younger, but at a fresh 28 years old I am as old as this album before us, which, given the broad subject matter of Progressive Rock, is still a relatively new release. Of course, we don't usually look at media that is nearly 30 years old in this lens, but it's somewhat relevant. What really drives home the age of this album is its and my relationship to ProgArchives. I've been posting reviews for less than a year now and the most recent review for this album was posted 5 years ago. I don't exactly know what all that means to you, but I do take it as an honor to 'look' at it with 'fresh eyes'; and interestingly enough I would figure it's been about 5 years since I've listened through this, Roine Stolt's pre-Flower Kings and therefore timely solo effort--I often forget it's not his debut. Being just a year before the steady stream of Flower-Kings-proper releases, this features now-familiar names: Hasse Fröberg on shared lead vocal responsibilities; [less familiar here, but] Ulf Wallander, the guest-spot sax player since the beginning until the present; [similarly consistently guest-spotted] Hasse Bruniusson on drums and percussion; and I would think most famously Jaime Salazar on drums and percussion [his involvement ended in 2001].

Most recognizably showing his lineage from Yes and their symphonic ilk is the introduction of "The Flower King", our title track and album opener. And this just is The Flower Kings; this is what they sound like. It's classic Symphonic Prog fitted for a more modern audience by a [slightly] younger generation of excellent musicians. At 10 minutes in length, it is our first of three mini-epics. As the verse continues, its age and timeframe of recording is very evident. Hard to explain, but you'll get the picture. I guess you could say some of the melodies and swelling instrumentation is in the least bit 'dated'. The riff around minute 3 is also of a very different time and nature than today, but I think ye fans of contemporary guitarsmith Steve Vai may find something familiar here, as I did. If you somehow don't know it yet, Roine is a very capable guitarist himself and, I would say thusly, surrounds himself with comparably apt musicians. The drumming of Jaime is exemplary, for instance. The Yes comparisons can be made increasingly here, as Roine solos over warm, bright accompaniment (he plays the keys here as well). And in the spacious aftermath of that bombast, we can also hear the natural lineage from Genesis clearly for the first time (around minute 7).

As the title implies, "Dissonata" starts off low and creeping, slowly opening up with warm but wary synth, finally building to the verse by minute 1. This track has a great beat and, as I've certainly come to expect from him, everything is well mixed and full. One of those great moments in which you have to come to grips that most all instrumentation and layers are provided by this single person. Impressive to say the least. I don't entirely understand how one so masterfully combines darkness with optimism, as I'm not a composer haha, but again, just excellent work here. And in classic Roine fashion, he is equally a compositional master in his proficiency of holding our attention throughout 10+ minute tracks (my mind can't not go to the 30+ minute epic, "The Truth Will Set You Free", released 8 years later). Once again, he also shows off his virtuosic guitar skill around minute 6. Beautiful and sweet notes... that fall away to the dissonance we were so wary of from the start. This segment feels a bit like a King Crimson lift. A nice nod, I'll say. Overall, a surefire highlight.

If I wasn't impressed enough by Roine's overwhelming muscianship, "The Magic Circus of Zeb" is lifting that veil: He plays this incredible keyboard solo at the frontend that blew me away... Also, some synthy[?...] goodness that should totally appeal to mid-to-late-70s Zappa fans! A mimicry of mallets? It does say he played percussion starting on this track (including the excellent drum performance here!!!)... This is then followed by this emotive, beautiful guitar solo. Good God, this man has it. Yet another must-hear for Symphonic Proggers like me. Goodness gracious... This is followed by the balladic and soft "Close Your Eyes"--the lowlight, as I purposefully did not bold it as I do for album highlights. In comparison to the prior 3, not a whole lot to see here--I should have figured the album wouldn't ring out 'perfect'. Oh well haha. [Wild that without this track, my personal average would have brought the album to a 4.5/5.0]

Our final mini-epic, at just over 9 minutes, "The Pilgrims Inn", is our true introduction to the other drummer here, Hasse Bruniusson: an excellent percussionist. This track also features the aforementioned Ulf Wallander on soprano saxophone. It brings to mind some Fusion bands like Passport mixed with a familiar darkness early enough featured by King Crimson, especially via the more established Red-era lineup. Really beautiful stuff, but again dark and moody. Around minute 7, a super memorable theme starts off on acoustic guitar. A sort of melody that makes me think of European Folk or an image of a troubadour. Killer track. I think it is really nicely juxtaposed by the next, "The Sounds of Violence", which feels like a preparation for wartime... Very sinister key melody. These are the moments I really get excited about for Roine. For instance, I now think back to Transatlantic's latest, The Absolute Universe. The favorite for me there was the very dark and very obviously Stolt-penned "Owl Howl". At just shy of 6 minutes, "Sounds..." is pretty much a perfectly incapsulated Prog song for me.

As we come to the close of this landmark release, "Humanizzimo" is our 21-minute epic. Ulf returns to the sax, and I guess it's just the fact that it's a soprano(?), but I can't help but think of Passport. Could be something to that... Our first shift is around minute 4, from swelling, personal beauty to... Rockabilly?! haha. Nothing is truly surprising to me at this point. [It would be at this point, nearing the album's close, that of course the disclaimer I frequently feel is on my mind: Roine Stolt's voice is very likely an acquired taste. I like it. But it is not a standard voice. I think he's quite talented vocally. It's just that his tone... You get it.] It is also for the first time in his known-by-me career where I must wonder about his personal faith: Is Roine a Christian? It would certainly make his relationship with Neal Morse in Transatlantic all the more sound/logical. Lyrically, this track talks of upright morals, facing temptations and a certain call to repentance. Then the lyric turns most specifically to actual regard to Jesus Christ himself: "With the blood of Jesus on the nail / we turn the balance on a scale / In pain and fearless suffering / lies a message from the King of Kings". He speaks of spiritual warfare, of heaven ("enter in the hall of grace"), of an apparent personal relationship with God the Father ("safe in your daddy's arms"?) and that love is "all in his name". Seems like a dead ringer, if you ask me. Around minute 17 or so, a very clear homage to Yes's latter-day epic "Awaken" can be heard... This was driving me nuts and it took me a while to figure out what was being referenced. See "Awaken" around 8:20 and onward with Wakeman's grandiose church organ. And wow... the ending on this... Gee-whizz! haha! And now, speaking of endings, we get to our album finale, "Scanning the Greenhouse", which feels like another less pointed homage to Yes. Hasse Fröberg returns on shared lead vocals here. As an opposite bookend, we get a return of "The Flower King" refrain. Another great number and therefore a great way to finish out this very very, most excellent album.

 The Flower King: Manifesto of an Alchemist by STOLT, ROINE album cover Studio Album, 2018
3.46 | 100 ratings

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The Flower King: Manifesto of an Alchemist
Roine Stolt Symphonic Prog

Review by A Crimson Mellotron
Prog Reviewer

2 stars What an unfortunately uneventful and uninspired album this is! The eighth solo studio effort by the leader and founder of The Flower Kings Roine Stolt is sincerely a mess, with loads of boring ideas that are taken nowhere by the otherwise excellent guitar player, songwriter and vocalist. A very interesting cast of guests on this album, including bandmates Hasse Fröberg and Jonas Reingold, his brother Michael Stolt, a former member of TFK, then-future TFK keyboard player Zach Kamins, as well as Nad Sylvan, Rob Townsend, Max Lorentz and Marco Minnemann - normally with such a stellar lineup expectations would be quite high, also taking into consideration the beautiful cover art.

In reality, this 70-minute recording is an almost painful drag - from the meanderings of the instrumentalists and their seemingly directionless playing on several occasions, more notably on the longer songs, to the hardly memorable riffs and melodies, lacking much of the charisma and imagination that is usually associated with the bands in which Roine Stolt is featured. It has to be said that as a solo record of Stolt, it is fine to see him exploring the sides of his music that he would not have otherwise been able to with, say, The Flower Kings, or The Tangent (although the music is not that dissimilar), but this record is just too full of content that it becomes hard to even categorize it (maybe progressive sleep-inducing blues would be a fitting decription).

A big problem with 'Manifesto of an Alchemist' is the overstretching of the compositions, and a very good example would be the opening track 'Lost America' - a song that could have been much more enjoyable had it not been mixed up with several other ideas that hardly contribute to the overall listening experience, resulting in a mediocre mini-epic, full of wacky lyrics and somewhat tedious playing. The following track 'Ze Pawns' does not get better; In fact, it is even harder to get through as the 'ambient rock' tendency prevails once again, as is the case with the 12-minute 'High Road', another long song that is suffocated from its self-indulgent and directionless nature. 'Rio Grande' and 'The Alchemist' are the two instrumental tracks that are actually interesting and listenable, more experimental and adventurous sonically, but the rest of the album is, unfortunately, almost dreadful.

'Manifesto of an Alchemist' is unnecessarily long, boring, uninspiring, and sounds like a collection of B-sides and leftovers that have been reworked to not very satisfactory results. What could have been a very curious piece of modern prog, is in reality a disappointing addition to the excellent discography of Roine Stolt.

 Wall Street Voodoo by STOLT, ROINE album cover Studio Album, 2005
3.57 | 151 ratings

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Wall Street Voodoo
Roine Stolt Symphonic Prog

Review by Squire Jaco

4 stars I get the feeling that this album had been germinating in Mr. Stolt's mind for many years.

Over the years, we Flower Kings fans have easily recognized his early prog influences such as Yes, Genesis, Crimson and ELP (among others), and his Gibson Les Paul guitar styling has frequently had a very Steve Howe-ish sound. But just as Howe was deeply influenced by some seemingly unlikely suspects like Chet Atkins and Bob Dylan, Stolt bares his soul (no pun intended) on Wall Street Voodoo with nods to some of the early blues-based guitar masters of the late 60's.

For me, this album answers a lot of questions about why Stolt has used certain effects, riffs or political lyrics in recent TFK outings where I thought they sounded a bit awkward or out of sync with the rest of a particular song or album concept. (I'm thinking of the rockier "Don't Let The Devil In", "Monkey Business", "Adam and Eve" and "Genie in a Bottle"; or the more political "Thru the Walls", "Devil's Playground" and "Slave to Money"). In the past, I always attributed it to the quirkier Zappa side of Stolt; but now I suspect it was just Stolt trying to let these important root yearnings of his out to see a little light of day. Even the name of the group and many of their album covers have evoked the "flower power" era of rock 'n' roll.

There's a lot of great music here folks, with inventive guitar solos galore. Just as some blues and classic rock sounds tend to creep into the occasional TFK composition, Stolt has a little trouble keeping some prog from peering around the edges of this latest album of rhythm and blues (and that's just fine with me!). And I'm gonna go out on a limb here and suggest that part of the reason that you can't totally escape the TFK sound here is because along with Stolt and then-TFK drummer Marcus Liliequist, you have bassist Jonas Reingold(?) masquerading as "Victor Woof", and keyboardist Tomas Bodin(?) as "Slim Pothead" - am I right, Roine?

The first disc starts off with four really good tunes - cool lyrics, catchy refrains, and lots of layered guitar. I love the slide guitar (a la Duane Allman and George Harrison) that shows up in many of the songs. The middle few songs on this disc get a little repetitive for me, and can get pretty angry-sounding. But the disc finishes nicely with a Joni Mitchell cover ("Sex Kills") and "Outcast".

He does more voice effects on the second disc, and quite honestly, I've just never been a big fan of that. So while I absolutely LOVE "Remember", "Hotrod" and "People That Have the Power...", I don't care for portions of "The Unwanted" (great instrumental section, though), the Lou Reed-ish/near-rap of "It's all about Money", or the sittin'-on-my-front-porch-strummin'-my-guitar "Mercy" (mercifully short in duration).

So, as with many TFK albums, one is left with an album that's filled about 85% with just awesome, creative music - dare I say, the best being made today (even when it's not prog!). But then you have to endure the less-than-optimal quirkier stuff that the artist feels compelled to do, but may not quite jibe with your interests. Thus my 4-star rating.

If you are an exclusive prog rock listener, you should probably pass this album up. But if you are an overall rock music lover, or if you have an open mind to music, and especially if you are a fan of Swedish guitar-god and hippie-wannabe Roine Stolt, this album is INDISPENSABLE in understanding and enjoying more of this man's great music. It's far out, man.

 Big Daddy by STOLT, ROINE album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1988
3.00 | 1 ratings

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Big Daddy
Roine Stolt Symphonic Prog

Review by Zoltanxvamos

— First review of this album —
3 stars One is a borderline synth pop song and the other is a borderline jazz piece. This single is back and forth, it's hard to keep track of where we are going with this listen. Thankfully both of these songs are on an easier to understand studio album titled 'The Lonely Heartbeat'. I can see what Roine was trying to do here but nothing really adds up, Big Daddy isn't a song I'm too fond of, it has the feel of a typical synth pop beat from the 80s that I'm not crazy about on here. White Men of NYC is a confusing track, it's slow and jazzy and just... kind of works? I can't understand this too much either, I do enjoy this track but it's very confusing. So, one song, I'm not a fan of, and the second one, I am. This is the most confusing single I've listened to. I'm not sure whether it's good or bad, but its definitely not great, or a masterpiece.
 Utopia by STOLT, ROINE album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1990
3.00 | 2 ratings

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Utopia
Roine Stolt Symphonic Prog

Review by Zoltanxvamos

3 stars Utopia is a great EP by Roine Stolt of 'The Flower King's'. Both tracks have Roine's unmistakable voice, guitar playing, and writing style. Thankfully we are saved by Tomas Bodin's keyboard playing, his solos are great and so are Roine's. The writing style is kind of like Yes, Genesis, and some soft Rock bands thrown in the mix (such as; Toto, Tears For Fears, etc.). This is a very good EP, and it does show where Roine Stolt was going to end up. The feel and structure of both songs are nice, but are both songs incredible? No, they are good but nothing special. Overall the EP might have good songwriting and a very prog nature, but it isn't very well recorded. It could've been slightly better recorded even for the time it was released, but Roine wasn't under InsideOut or any real record label to help push this along. Either way, this is a good EP but its nothing to get too excited about.
 Hydrophonia by STOLT, ROINE album cover Studio Album, 1998
3.97 | 155 ratings

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Hydrophonia
Roine Stolt Symphonic Prog

Review by MalenaRoss

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 sound of soprano sax here as well. Well crafted melodies. I can see clearly Roine sending us his message from the wooden cottage that he calls "Cosmic Lodge", playing his old guitar near the fjord. I see the rare boat passing by... and than all of a sudden strange creatures comes to life... My favs are first 4 tracks! less interesting Seahorse.. but anyway it can`t spoil the whole atmosphere of the good instrumental album. 5 starts!
 The Flower King: Manifesto of an Alchemist by STOLT, ROINE album cover Studio Album, 2018
3.46 | 100 ratings

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The Flower King: Manifesto of an Alchemist
Roine Stolt Symphonic Prog

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator Rock Progressivo Italiano Team

4 stars Not quite a continuation of the Flower Kings, nor a totally new project, but probably a pimped out version of his solo work, charismatic Swedish multi-instrumentalist Roine Stolt returns with 2018's `Manifesto of an Alchemist'! The ex-Kaipa, Kaipa da Capo and The Sea Within composer here delivers an eclectic and diverse prog-rock crossover work that doesn't just simply fall back on the symphonic-prog approach perhaps expected of the artist, instead he incorporates plenty of blues, pop smarts and classic rock song-writing that highlights his social, political and spiritual observations, and it also boasts musical contributions from superior musicians such as bassist Jonas Reingold, drummer Marco Minnemann and others, as well as singers Nad Sylvan and Hasse Froberg.

After `Rainsong's dreamy vocal fragment introduction, `Lost America' opens properly with chugging riffing, Max Lorentz' sparkling electric piano and trickles of Hammond organ, Jonas' sweetly murmuring bass and Roine's charmingly accented raspy croon, and while much of the tune isn't particularly memorable, there's also plenty of tasty bluesy guitar playing from Stolt and the second half smoulders in all sorts of directions. The eerie `Ze Pawns' holds drowsy and weeping guitar strains over icy Mellotron slivers and desperate bursts of dramatic tension, Roine offering a melancholic vocal and sombrely cryptic lyric, and the twelve-minute `High Road' will remind many of the Flower Kings with its delirious, joyful, whimsical and kaleidoscopic approach. Hasse Froberg even pops up to sing alongside Stolt on the piece, and there's no shortage of unpredictable psychedelic interludes, dreamy harmonies and colourful soloing (and its damn cool to hear Roine play some big fat Rickenbacker bass on this one!).

Finally, `Rio Grande' is the first of three purely instrumental pieces that really take the disc even higher, and it initially burns with a jazz-fusion-like fire by way of rumbling drumming, splintering electric piano runs and strangled guitar, but there's an exquisite Mellotron-lifted ethereal passage in the middle that drifts into unhurried heavens of bliss with joyous Moog spins and victorious guitar reaches. The poppier `Next To A Hurricane' holds traces of Roine's idol Prince in its chorus and guitar soloing, and instrumental `The Alchemist' grooves with jazzy vibes and exotic sax soloing from guest Rob Townsend (and the piece probably wouldn't have sounded out of place on the Flower Kings' fusion-heavy `Unfold the Future'). The divine and placid ballad `Baby Angels' could almost pass for a Beach Boys `Sunflower'-era outtake, and `Six Thirty Wake-Up' is a final instrumental that emerges gently with tranquil flute, shimmering organ and embracing guitar comforts. The politically- charged ten minute `The Spell Of Money' closes the disc, and it bristles with an emotional heaviness and lurking menace, constantly reprising a frantic chorus and closing on grandiose guitar wailing full of defiance.

Roine's thoughts in the accompanying booklet of `Manifesto...' state how he and the other players were happy to keep less than perfect performances and unfished instrumental ideas from the recording sessions because they still captured plenty of spontaneity, and that mentality shines throughout the entire sixty-nine minute CD/LP. A disc that grafts a vintage sensibility to a firmly modern sound, Stolt and his friends have delivered a surprisingly fresh, gorgeously melodic and infectiously uplifting work with `Manifesto of an Alchemist', and it subtly proves to be one of the prog highlights of the year - long live the king/s!

Four stars.

 Hydrophonia by STOLT, ROINE album cover Studio Album, 1998
3.97 | 155 ratings

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Hydrophonia
Roine Stolt Symphonic Prog

Review by Trinity S

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 atmosphere. James Salazar is good on drums as always . And soprano saxophone melodies are cool! The rest - keys, guitars were performed by mr. Stolt - delicious! Please, record some more, let there be Hydrophonia part 2! I highly recommend this album for all Flower Kings fans of their gold 95 - 00 era! 5 stars indeed
 The Flower King by STOLT, ROINE album cover Studio Album, 1994
4.15 | 315 ratings

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The Flower King
Roine Stolt Symphonic Prog

Review by Walkscore

4 stars Very close to 5 Stars!

A very musical and passionate statement. This is the album that started it all for the Flower Kings (Stolt formed his touring band for this album using the players on it, his brother on bass, and Thomas Bodin on Keyboards, and christened them the Flower Kings for the tour, thus beginning a great musical legacy). Deciding it was time to record music he truly liked, and to communicate some of the ideas felt strongly about, Stolt wrote and produced this album on his own. It is always better when the artist has complete control over the music, and it really works here. This is a very musical album. While the strongest is the long epic "Humanizzimo" and some of the tunes in the middle ("Magic Circus of Zeb", "Pilgrims Inn", "Sounds of Violence") all the songs here are above par and they flow together very well. Probably the weakest is the title track, almost bordering on cheesy, but it is saved by the arrangement (while "Close Your Eyes" also borders on cheesy - this is the song I skip over). There are some excellent guitar solos on this album. Roine Stolt is a fantastic guitar player, and does not shy away from composing his songs around some great guitar work. He also shows himself to be an excellent multi-instrumentalist - he plays all the keys and bass on the album, leaving only the drums/percussion and saxes, and back-up vocals, to his guests. The return to the opening theme at the end ("Scanning the Greenhouse") ties everything together nicely and provides an exceptional and emotional closer to the album. Overall, a very satisfying musical experience. I give this 8.9 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which is just 0.1 shy of 5 stars (and so, 4 PA stars).

 Hydrophonia by STOLT, ROINE album cover Studio Album, 1998
3.97 | 155 ratings

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Hydrophonia
Roine Stolt Symphonic Prog

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator Rock Progressivo Italiano Team

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.

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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