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The Flower Kings - Stardust We Are CD (album) cover


The Flower Kings


Symphonic Prog

3.95 | 718 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

4 stars Magical.

While the album should not work so well (it is perhaps the perfect example of the main problem with TFK albums - they go on too long and could be more selective in song choice - this one is two long CDs and contains a few songs that should have been left out), this album has a particularly interesting, unique, almost magical effect. I think this has to do with the peculiar structure of the album with a number of songs along the way providing subliminal previews of the amazing epic title track which (after what seems like waiting for Godot) is amazing once it arrives. Just based on listening (and having no inside information about the band), it seems to me that they recorded the title track first ("Stardust We Are", which gets its name from the Joni Mitchell song "Woodstock"). But then they realized that part 3 is really special and should have appeared earlier to mirror its appearance there, and then that some other themes are quite good and so should have been mirrored earlier too. So, they recorded other versions of these themes, and sprinkled them elsewhere in the album. So, by the time one gets to the end, one has heard all the main themes but in different guises! (and at first you won't recognize them as such). This produces a strange (but highly pleasurable) "deja vu" feel when you finally get to the epic, "Stardust We Are". Indeed, the song "Stardust We Are" probably should probably have been much longer, and/or split into two parts (eg one that opens, and another that closes, the album, like on 'Space Revolver'). But I guess they didn't want to touch the piece once they recorded it, so instead they modified the rest of the album to support the key epic. Strange, but it really works. While the music elsewhere on this album normally would just be 'very good', because the various 'Stardust We Are' themes are tying many of them together, the albums flows very well to its penultimate ending. It is like a movie in which you are trying to figure out some key plot lines, and there are all these clues scattered throughout the movie, and then the penultimate scene arrives in the movie and all these clues suddenly make sense, but come together in a huge plot twist! (or something). Really unlike any other album. Of course you need to listen to it multiple times to get it, and this will take a while (almost 130 minutes every listen!), but it is worth it.

Saying this, I still think it is too long, and certain pieces should have been left off. This includes (for me) the song "Just This Once" near the beginning of CD1, and "Different People" in the middle of CD2. I also think that this is the album that contains the most 'retro' sounds in the TFK catalogue (there is one guitar solo that sounds like Fripp, another one that sounds like Howe, etc), and not 'Retropolis'.

On the positive side, the album begins with the excellent "In the Eyes of the World", and near the end of CD1 is the excellent instrumental "Circus Brimstone". These are two classic TFK songs, up there with their best, and indeed, I would put them up there with the best of progressive rock (or rock in general). I also think CD1 closes on a particularly good note with "Compassion" - a slow gothic tune but very musical. In addition to the epic at the end, gems on CD2 include "The End of Innocence" and "The Merrygoround". In reality, in between these tracks is a lot of filler, but this is the filler the ties everything together, and except for "just this once" and "Different People" I find most of this to be very musical. I would recommend you give this album a number of listens. Perhaps you won't experience the same magical effect, but then again you might. I give this album 8.8 out of 10 on my 10-point scale. Close to 5 PA stars.

Walkscore | 4/5 |


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