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The Flower Kings - Retropolis CD (album) cover


The Flower Kings


Symphonic Prog

3.73 | 492 ratings

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5 stars ". and I woke up in the city of Retropolis, a place where the future and the past is constantly morphing into historic hybrids."

I have owned the CD since 1999 when InsideOut released this album that originally was a 1996 release. This album blew me away at my first spin of the CD. But when I look at this site and this album is NOT in the key albums list, I really wonder why? I know that I have to be open with differing views but for this case it seems like there should be no major differences as it's a masterpiece work. Well, as usual, I rarely read what colleague reviewers have put their thoughts here before I post mine. I just want to express my view based on what I think in my head. Once I post this one, I will definitely read what colleague reviewers have said.

This is my track by track review .

"Rhythm of Life" is nothing I can review as this is just a very short opening of human voice with no musical instrument involved, I guess. I just want to ignore it as it lacks its purpose to open the album. The album title song "Retropolis"s opening features symphonic style of guitar followed with a nice transition in the form of string orchestra. The music then turns into a solid passage with excellent bass guitar and stunning guitar solo. The organ fills in the music at background during guitar solo. The organ then takes the lead of solo. The music then turns into quieter passage in avant-garde style before it finally returns back to the original rhythm section. There is a significant jazz influence. The inclusion of Chinese music during transition at the ending part is fantastic. This is a SUPERB tune of the band that has become my all-time favorite since I heard it for the first time. Great composition with variety of moods.

"Rhythm Of The Sea" starts with an ambient sounds in the vein of avant-garde music. The acoustic guitar sound brings the vocal line enters in a mellow style followed with keyboard / piano that sometimes reminds me to Tony Banks (Genesis) but packaged with different style. The lead guitar enters nicely at the background of the music and singing piece. The music is a blend of jazz, blues and rock in relatively slow tempo. The soft piano work [5:09 onward] combined with a soft guitar work is really excellent!

The opening of "There Is More To This World" reminds me to the musical "nuance" of Genesis "Wind and Wuthering" album. (Don't get me wrong: I don't mean that there is any similarity with Genesis, melody-wise or composition-wise). But when the voice enters the music, it's definitely the sound of The Flower Kings music. It provides the right balance of guitar and keyboard solos with great rhythm section of bass guitar and drums (I like the drumming style really!). The ending part of this track is mellow with acoustic guitar and vocal. It turns to full music again but still in slow tempo style.

"Romancing The City" is a very nice and short instrumental outfit heavily influenced by classical music. It's basically a piano solo to serve as a transition piece.

"The Melting Pot" opens nicely with a piano solo followed with a continuous stream of full music led by the soprano to play the tune's melody. Yep, you can guess that it's a jazz influence track. Guitar solo fills the transition piece with a soft sound at the back. I relly enjoy this track especially on the rhythm section that accompanies soprano sole. The keyboard solo continues wonderfully and it is then followed with a stunning guitar solo. Oh my God . what a great composition! There are some chanting in some segments of the tune with male voice. The church organ voice using Hammond C3 has enriched the tune so much. The soprano then brings the music to the end. Superb!

"Silent Sorrow" kicks off in a medium tempo with keyboard and bass line followed with uplifting voice line. Keyboard takes the lead during the opening part of the tune. The duet voice line in the refrain "I'll down in a silent sorrow" is excellent especially it is then followed with a single voice sung differently. The guitar solo starts to roll [2:42] in a bluesy solo continued with voice line. The guitar plays its important role in a rocking solo [3:08 onwards] stunningly! It is augmented by a very dynamic and powerful drumming. Oh man . what a great rocking part here .!! The keyboard continues the solo [4:06] wonderfully with various styles. I love this part, really! The nusic brings us back to the original rhythm with voice line.

Another favorite of mine "The Judas Kiss" starts with a distanced bell sound and suddenly followed with a dazzling Hammond C3 sound that brings the guitar, bass and drums into the music stream. When the voice line enters with "Mother . what's it all about .." with a very unique Stolt singing style, it amazes me on how powerful this opening voice line is. Especially when I observe the bass line that accompanies it. Oh man . a very satisfying musical piece! The lead guitar work that creates the sound at the back is also an excellent outfit. The dogs barking soundscape enriches the nuance of this track. Keyboard plays at the back and provides a symphonic nuance for the tune. At [3:17] the music starts bringing us to the centre of musical orgasm with a very nice instrumental bits, exploring the very soft sound of piano and guitar. At [5:02] the guitar solo demonstrates its rocking style combined with stunning keyboard sounds and effects. Stolt brings his guitar solo in its peak augmented with symphonic keyboard of Bodin. It's so colossal man .. I don't believe any progger cannot enjoy this adrenaline exploding part! Four thumbs up!

"Retropolis By Night" is a spacey musical exploration with chanting and African music background mixed thinly at the back. As an individual track, there is nothing special with this track but it serves really well to support the whole music of the album.

"Flora Majora" is an instrumental piece exploring keyboard / organ at the beginning, backed up with powerful drumming. The guitar solo continues the melody and it is later combined with keyboard. It is performed in medium tempo. The music turns fully symphonic in the middle of the track. I enjoy the combination of guitar and keyboard work. The rhythm section with bass guitar and drums are also excellent. This is not a track that will make my adrenaline heating up but it's still an excellent track!

"The Road Back Home" starts off with an acoustic guitar rhythm followed with a duet male voice in a mellow style. The music moves in a crescendo but still maintaining the slow tempo - followed with great soprano work (Ulf Wallander; guest musician).At the end of soprano the music continued with a bluesy guitar work and continued again with soprano. At [4:21] the organ brings the music into an uplifting mood that let keyboard solo enters the music into a more enjoyable part. It's an excellent track.

Overall Recommendation

When I reviewed the compilation CD of "Scanning The Greenhouse" last week, I did mention: "It's a masterpiece compilation of prog tracks from the band's finest selection even though there are still many great tracks of the band that are not included in this CD.". And by now, you know that I put a vast majority of tracks in this album with a "high" points. That proves my statement that "there are still many great tracks ." that could not be made under a single compilation CD. And for this album, it's definitely a masterpiece with a 4 out of 5 stars rating. I want to leave out the for the "Rhythm of Life" and "Retropolis by Night" that do not deserve a full five stars, I think. The Flower Kings is a powerful prog band. - Keep on progging!

Yours progressively,

GW - Indonesia

Gatot | 5/5 |


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