THE FLOWER KINGS – launch video for ‘Black Swan’ / track taken from latest album ‘Islands’ out now

In October 2020, progressive rockers THE FLOWER KINGS released their new double album “Islands” on InsideOutMusic, just a year after the group’s much celebrated “Waiting For Miracles”. Today the band have launched a brand new video for the track ‘Black Swan’, and you can watch it now here:

Roine Stolt comments: “’Black Swan’ was a little piano melody I wrote around spring 2019 – I thought of it as ‘Polish melancholic’ or a ballet piano piece. I did present a demo for the Transatlantic sessions but when it didn’t stick there I brought it along to the TFK ‘Islands’ session. Here it found its way in to the album and concept and with a slightly more dry guitar-driven sound and with nods to both The Beatles & Queen it became one of my favourite tracks. Hasse delivers some of his finest vocal on the album here.”
 
With an epic length of 92 minutes, “Islands” offers all trademark sounds and melodies, the band is renowned for including vintage keys, brilliant guitar solos, odd drum patterns and symphonic elements. Rounded off by artwork courtesy of the legendary Roger Dean (Yes, Asia, Gentle Giant, Greenslade, Uriah Heep), THE FLOWER KINGS present a dynamic and complex record that is bold, bombastic and beautiful.

 “Islands” is available as a massive Limited 3LP & 2CD box set with slipcase and 180 gram vinyl housed in one gatefold, one single sleeve; as Limited Edition 2CD Digipak and Digital Album.
 
Order here: https://theflowerkings.lnk.to/IslandsID

Disc One (49:40)
1 – Racing With Blinders On 4:24
2 – From The Ground 4.02
3 – Black Swan 5:53
4 – Morning News 4:01
5 – Broken 6:38
6 – Goodbye Outrage 2:19
7 – Journeyman 1:43
8 – Tangerine 3:51
9 – Solaris 9:10
10 – Heart Of The Valley 4:18
11- Man In A Two Peace Suit 3:21

Disc Two (43:01)
1 – All I Need Is Love 5:48
2 – A New Species 5:45
3 – Northern Lights 5:43
4 – Hidden Angles 0:50
5 – Serpentine 3:52
6 – Looking For Answers 4:30
7 –Telescope 4:41
8 – Fool’s Gold 3:11
9 – Between Hope & Fear 4:29
10 – Islands 4:12

Line-Up:
Roine Stolt – Vocal, Ukulele, Guitars, Additional Keyboards
Hasse Fröberg – Vocal & Acoustic Guitar
Jonas Reingold – Bass, Acoustic Guitar
Zach Kamins – Pianos, Organ, Synthesizers, Mellotron, Orchestrations
Mirko DeMaio – Drums, Percussion
Guest: Rob Townsend – Soprano Saxophone

Review – The Flower Kings – Islands – By John Wenlock-Smith

I have a very strange relationship with The Flower Kings, even though I have all their albums, a few live CDs, and a compilation (along with a few of Roine Stolt’s solo releases and the Anderson Stolt epic of a few years ago). Despite that body of recorded works somehow I’ve never really connected with them in the way I have with other bands. I have never really got them as a band, despite many attempts to do so on my part, I appreciate the music they make and odd tracks do resonate but, overall, it passes me by for some strange reason.

This new album, ‘Islands’, is an interesting one in that it has been put together in this strange year of lockdowns that the world struggles to come to terms with, aiming to beat and conquer and defeat this dreadful virus that has caused so much havoc, both to individuals yet also on the world’s economies. The band have used this odd time to craft a double album of predominantly shorter songs, 21 over 2 CDs with a common theme of isolation and separation. 

They had intended to follow up last years ‘Waiting For Miracles’ album in 2021 but world events made that difficult as all touring activities were curtailed so that left them free to crack on creating new music together, even if remotely. The group line-up remains predominantly the same but with Rob Townsend from Steve Hackett’s band appearing on two tracks adding sax and woodwind to the music. So, how does this one fare?

Well it has taken many listens over several weeks to get some understanding of it all, in all honesty I still have not been able to make up my mind about it all.

The album starts in typical prog style, Racing With Blinders On opening with swirls of keyboards before the ever energetic bass of Jonas Reingold kicks in, propelling the music alongside washes of synths and some very fluid guitar lines from Roine Stolt that run throughout the whole track. With many symphonic textures and soundscapes, it paints a very impressive opening track.

Second track From The Ground has a funky rhythm with a clarinet sounding keyboard and an ethereal vocal from Roine, the song is brief and very positive and uplifting with more great guitar lines flowing through the music. The musicianship on this album is off the scale, everyone is playing at the top of their game on these concise yet impressive pieces. There are no long drawn out pieces on this album and somehow this makes the music easier, almost more accessible somehow and that is a good thing.

This is a really good strong release made under difficult situations and yet it really works well as further shown by the impressive third piece, Black Swan, that has a very Brian May like guitar tone with some very tasty guitar fills from Roine.Possibly my favourite track so far, it is a really great song and, with great support from the rest of the band, it really is a statement of intent. In fact, the more I listen, the more I hear, there is a lot going on in these tracks.

Morning News is a more subdued track with a real spring in its step, a rather jolly little song that, while brief, does not overstay its welcome. It is an interesting song lyrically and the chorus is a strong one that suits the song well. Broken is another stunner with a tremendous drive to it and fabulous music and energy to match. There’s a great guitar solo from Roine and some great keyboard textures from Zach Kamins, who really flies on this song, simply glorious.

Then we are into a series of significantly shorter tracks; Goodbye Outrage, Journeyman (instrumental)and Tangerine before a real epic in the nine minutes plus of Solaris which opens with gentle keyboards setting an almost triumphant tone and Roine’s epic guitar coming into play briefly before a gentler percussive keyboard sets a base for Roine to ascend, which he does again briefly. The sound is a little denser on this song but ultimately it is another example of the undeniable talents that this band unquestionably possess, offering to the listener a fine example of modern day progressive rock. This is the best song so far and certainly shows that this album is one that you should look out for and listen to as it is a fine distillation of all the Flower Kings represent. Great song writing, superlative playing and tones, all combined to make an outstanding musical statement that is beguiling, accessible and very impressive indeed.

Heart Of the Valley follows, another gentler piece with great vocals and music working together to create something of worth and value. Man In A Two Piece Suit sounds like one of those instrumentals that Carlos Santana used to do so well, mixing both melody and taste in equal measures. This is a real tour de force of guitar tones and subtlety, all presented together to make a sublime, beautifully crafted piece of music and is a great ending to the first cd.

Disc two opens with the beauty of All I Need Is Love, its universal sentiments must appeal to many listeners who have found themselves adrift and at odds with the madness of this virus affected world. This song acts as a sort of centre of our thoughts and feeling and the realisation that all we actually do need is love in these strange discordant days in which we find ourselves. This calming track is a tonic for us all to aspire to and this is a most worthy song that reaches out to everyone. A New Species is a lengthy instrumental with highly charged moods and textures and some fine ensemble and solo passages from all, especially keyboard player Zach Kamins. His work is simply fabulous on this track as is the walking bass line of Jonas Reingold, offset against the fine guitar of Roine Stolt. Another great track, Northern Lights (not the Renaissance track!) follows with a good opening section showcasing the wordless vocals of Hasse Froberg before becoming vocalised another long song but it was a bitinconsequential song to these ears and sadly did not do anything for me really.

Hidden Angles is a brief instrumental interlude before the second song with Rob Townsend is revealed. Serpentine features Rob’s saxall over the track along with some highly effective bass lines that really add to the dynamics of this excellent little number that ends on some fine ad-libbed sax lines. Looking For Answers is a fine ensemble piece with some sterling guitar lines from Roine leading the piece. Once again I can hear Santana type guitar tones that punctuate the song, adding real emphasis and dynamics to an extraordinarily strong musical piece.

Telescope is an interesting song, very atmospheric with haunting tones used to great effect, along with more juicy guitar lines that set the music tone well. This song has a really fine fluid guitar break too, in fact, I must comment on the excellence of the guitar playing throughout this album as it really is very strong and really adds to the whole experience the album offers.

I would say for me this is one of the most accessible Flower Kings albums that it has been my experience to enjoy and this is one of the first that I have really ‘got’, as it were. There is a lot of music on the two discs but this is countered by it conciseness and its lack of sprawling tunes. For me at least this is one of their better albums and this new approach certainly seems to work as the results are remarkable. Satisfying and ultimately very enjoyable indeed, I really have no hesitation in Recommending this album to all.

Released 30th October 2020

Order from Burning Shed here:

https://burningshed.com/the-flower-kings_islands_2cd

TRANSATLANTIC – launch video for ‘Overture / Reaching For The Sky’/ first single from ‘The Absolute Universe’

TRANSATLANTIC – the Prog Supergroup of Neal Morse, Mike Portnoy, Roine Stolt & Pete Trewavas – are pleased to announce their fifth studio album ‘The Absolute Universe’, set for release on the 5th February 2021. Representing the band’s first new music since 2014’s ‘Kaleidoscope’, with ‘The Absolute Universe’ the band have done something unique and created two versions of the record: ‘The Absolute Universe: The Breath Of Life (Abridged Version)’ & ‘The Absolute Universe: Forevermore (Extended Version)’.

Today they have launched the video for ‘Overture / Reaching For The Sky’, taken from ‘The Absolute Universe: The Breath Of Life (Abridged Version)’. 

Mike Portnoy comments: “’Reaching For The Sky’ is the first single off Transatlantic’s latest Magnum opus ‘The Absolute Universe’. It’s a great introduction to this epic album as it sets the tone in traditional TA style: proceeded on the album by an extended Instrumental Overture and then launching into this upbeat first song.

I love that it features one of my favorite qualities of the band in the sharing of the lead vocals…in this case: Neal singing lead on Verse 1, myself singing lead on Verse 2, Pete & Neal sharing the Chorus with myself and Roine on backups and Neal taking the glorious Bridge…all leading to Roine’s distinctive guitar solo. 

 Also interesting is that this version exclusively appears on the Abridged 1CD Version of TA5 (“The Breath Of Life”) while the Extended 2CD Version of TA5 (“Forevermore”) opens with the alternate version ‘Heart Like A Whirlwind’ which has different lead vocals and lyrics .”

Each album will be available on CD, LP & Digitally. But there will also be what has been called ‘The Absolute Universe: The Ultimate Edition’, which collects both versions together in one lavish package that includes 5LP’s, 3CD’s & a Blu-ray that includes a special mix that combines both versions into a third unique version in 5.1 surround sound with visuals and a behind the scenes documentary. All editions have artwork created by Thomas Ewerhard featuring the airship by Pavel Zhovba. 

As Mike Portnoy explains: “We’ve got two versions of this album. There is a two CD presentation, which is 90 minutes long, and a single one – that’s 60 minutes. However, the single CD is NOT merely an edited version of the double CD. They each contain alternate versions and even in some cases, new recordings. We wrote fresh lyrics and have different people singing on the single CD version tracks as compared to those on the double CD. Some of the song titles have also been changed, while others might remain the same, but compositionally what you’ll hear has been altered. You must appreciate that what we have done is unique. We revamped the songs to make the two versions different.” Pete Trewavas adds: “We did write some new music for the single CD, what’s more, there are also differences in the instruments used on some of the tracks across the two records.”

The full list of formats is below, and you can pre-order now here: https://transatlantic.lnk.to/TheAbsoluteUniverse

The Absolute Universe: The Breath Of Life (Abridged Version)’

Available as:

Single CD Edition, Gatefold 2LP+CD, or Digital Album 

Track-listing:

1.     Overture

2.     Reaching For The Sky

3.     Higher Than The Morning

4.     The Darkness In The Light

5.     Take Now My Soul

6.     Looking For The Light

7.     Love Made  A Way (Prelude)

8.     Owl Howl

9.     Solitude

10.  Belong

11.  Can You Feel It

12.  Looking For The Light (Reprise)

13.  The Greatest Story Never Ends

14.  Love Made A Way

 ‘The Absolute Universe: Forevermore (Extended Version)’

Available as:
2CD Edition, 3LP+2CD Boxset, or Digital Album

Track-listing:

Disc 1:

1.     Overture

2.     Heart Like A Whirlwind

3.     Higher Than The Morning

4.     The Darkness In The Light

5.     Swing High, Swing Low

6.     Bully

7.     Rainbow Sky

8.     Looking For The Light

9.     The World We Used To Know

Disc 2:

1.     The Sun Comes Up Today

2.     Love Made A Way (Prelude)

3.     Owl Howl

4.     Solitude

5.     Belong

6.     Lonesome Rebel

7.     Looking For The Light (Reprise)

8.     The Greatest Story Never Ends

9.     Love Made A Way

‘The Absolute Universe: The Ultimate Edition’

Limited Deluxe Clear 5LP+3CD+Blu-Ray Box-set – contained within a foil-finished lift-off box with extended 16-page LP booklet & 60x60cm poster. Includes both versions of the album over 5LP’s and 3CD’s, plus a Blu-Ray with 5.1 mix & documentary. 

Blu-Ray Track-listing:

1.     Overture (5.1 Surround Mix)

2.     Reaching For The Sky (5.1 Surround Mix)

3.     Higher Than The Morning (5.1 Surround Mix)

4.     The Darkness In The Light (5.1 Surround Mix)

5.     Take Now My Soul (5.1 Surround Mix)

6.     Bully (5.1 Surround Mix)

7.     Rainbow Sky (5.1 Surround Mix)

8.     Looking For The Light (5.1 Surround Mix)

9.     The World We Used To Know (5.1 Surround Mix)

10.  The Sun Comes Up Today (5.1 Surround Mix)

11.  Love Made A Way (Prelude) (5.1 Surround Mix)

12.  Owl Howl (5.1 Surround Mix)

13.  Solitude (5.1 Surround Mix)

14.  Belong (5.1 Surround Mix)

15.  Lonesome Rebel (5.1 Surround Mix)

16.  Can You Feel It (5.1 Surround Mix)

17.  Looking For The Light (Reprise) (5.1 Surround Mix)

18.  The Greatest Story Never Ends (5.1 Surround Mix)

19.  Love Made A Way (5.1 Surround Mix)

20.  The Making of The Absolute Universe (Documentary)

Initial tracking began in September 2019 when the band met up in Sweden to write and arrange the new material. As Portnoy explains: “Over a period of 10-14 days, we mapped out the songs. Then we all went back to our home studios and did the recording. That’s the way we always do it. At one point, though, it was suggested that instead of doing what was by that time going to be a double album, we should just be content to do a single CD.”

“What happened was that everything kept expanding and expanding,” recalls Stolt. “Therefore we decided it made sense to make it a double album. It was Pete and Neal who then came out and said they felt this would be too long, and we should reduce it to one…But we were already recording, and it didn’t seem feasible to cut it back. There were so many pieces that each of us loved in what we were planning and didn’t want to lose. That’s when we ended up in discussions over the best way forward.”

This album also marks a return to the concept album for Transatlantic. “Well, the idea of Transatlantic deciding to do a concept record this time around won’t shock anyone, right?” laughs Portnoy. “What we have is essentially one giant composition, split into chapters. The storyline is about the struggles facing everyone in society today.” “We didn’t start out with the idea of this being conceptual,” admits Stolt. “The way things work with us is that we have a load of ideas, and these are developed spontaneously when we meet up. Everything happens in the moment.”

So, how does this new ground-breaking album compare to Transatlantic’s previous four albums?

“I always try not to compare albums as much as possible,” insists Morse. “It’s very difficult when you’re trying to be creative, because your natural instinct is to constantly compare. But in order to create you have to kind of step away from that. Having said that, I would say this would have more in common with ‘The Whirlwind’ album  (the band’s third, from 2009) than others that we’ve created.” 

For Trewavas, ‘The Absolute Universe’ is a momentous project.“I think it is right up there with the very finest albums we’ve done. As the others have said, it compares very well to ‘The Whirlwind’, which I believe represents Transatlantic at our best. As on that album, we took our time to write and arrange everything, and that shines through. I am very excited for people to hear it.”

Transatlantic were originally formed in 1999, releasing their debut album ‘SMTPe’ the following year as well as its follow-up ‘Bridge Across Forever’ in 2001. Following a 7-year hiatus, the band reconvened to record and release the much-acclaimed epic 77-minute, single-track album ‘The Whirlwind’ followed by a world tour in 2010 which included an appearance at High Voltage Festival in London where they were joined by legendary Genesis guitarist Steve Hackett. The band’s fourth album ‘Kaleidoscope’ arrived in 2014, going on to win ‘Album Of The Year’ at the Progressive Music Awards.

TRANSATLANTIC – invite you to enter ‘The Absolute Universe’ on fifth studio album

TRANSATLANTIC – the Prog Supergroup of Neal Morse, Mike Portnoy, Roine Stolt & Pete Trewavas – are pleased to announce their fifth studio album ‘The Absolute Universe’, set for release on the 5th February 2021. Representing the band’s first new music since 2014’s ‘Kaleidoscope’, with ‘The Absolute Universe’ the band have done something unique and created two versions of the record: ‘The Absolute Universe: The Breath Of Life (Abridged Version)’ & ‘The Absolute Universe: Forevermore (Extended Version)’.

As Mike Portnoy explains: “We’ve got two versions of this album. There is a two CD presentation, which is 90 minutes long, and a single one – that’s 60 minutes. However, the single CD is NOT merely an edited version of the double CD. They each contain alternate versions and even in some cases, new recordings. We wrote fresh lyrics and have different people singing on the single CD version tracks as compared to those on the double CD. Some of the song titles have also been changed, while others might remain the same, but compositionally what you’ll hear has been altered. You must appreciate that what we have done is unique. We revamped the songs to make the two versions different.” Pete Trewavas adds: “We did write some new music for the single CD,” adds Trewavas. “What’s more, there are also differences in the instruments used on some of the tracks across the two records.”

Each album will be available on CD, LP & Digitally. But there will also be what has been called ‘The Absolute Universe: The Ultimate Edition’, which collects both versions together in one lavish package that includes 5LP’s, 3CD’s & a Blu-ray that contains a 5.1 surround sound mix with visuals & a behind the scenes documentary. All editions have unique artwork created by Thomas Ewerhard. The full list of formats is below, and pre-orders start on the 20th November:

‘The Absolute Universe: The Breath Of Life (Abridged Version)’

Special Edition CD Digipak

Gatefold 2LP+CD

Digital Album

‘The Absolute Universe: Forevermore (Extended Version)’

Special Edition 2CD Digipak

3LP+2CD Boxset

Digital Album

‘The Absolute Universe: The Ultimate Edition’

Limited Deluxe Clear 5LP+3CD+Blu-Ray Box-set – contained within a foil-finished lift-off box with extended 16-page LP booklet & 60x60cm poster

Initial tracking began in September 2019 when the band met up in Sweden to write and arrange the new material. As Portnoy explains: “Over a period of 10-14 days, we mapped out the songs. Then we all went back to our home studios and did the recording. That’s the way we always do it. At one point, though, it was suggested that instead of doing what was by that time going to be a double album, we should just be content to do a single CD.”

“What happened was that everything kept expanding and expanding,” recalls Stolt. “Therefore we decided it made sense to make it a double album. It was Pete and Neal who then came out and said they felt this would be too long, and we should reduce it to one…But we were already recording, and it didn’t seem feasible to cut it back. There were so many pieces that each of us loved in what we were planning and didn’t want to lose. That’s when we ended up in discussions over the best way forward.” 

This album also marks a return to the concept album for Transatlantic. “Well, the idea of Transatlantic deciding to do a concept record this time around won’t shock anyone, right?” laughs Portnoy. “What we have is essentially one giant composition, split into chapters. The storyline is about the struggles facing everyone in society today.” “We didn’t start out with the idea of this being conceptual,” admits Stolt. “The way things work with us is that we have a load of ideas, and these are developed spontaneously when we meet up. Everything happens in the moment.”

So, how does this new ground-breaking album compare to Transatlantic’s previous four albums?

“I always try not to compare albums as much as possible,” insists Morse. “It’s very difficult when you’re trying to be creative, because your natural instinct is to constantly compare. But in order to create you have to kind of step away from that. Having said that, I would say this would have more in common with ‘The Whirlwind’ album  (the band’s third, from 2009) than others that we’ve created.” For Trewavas, ‘The Absolute Universe’ is a momentous project.

“I think it is right up there with the very finest albums we’ve done. As the others have said, it compares very well to ‘The Whirlwind’, which I believe represents Transatlantic at our best. As on that album, we took our time to write and arrange everything, and that shines through. I am very excited for people to hear it.”

Transatlantic were originally formed in 1999, releasing their debut album ‘SMTPe’ the following year as well as its follow-up ‘Bridge Across Forever’ in 2001. Following a 7-year hiatus, the band reconvened to record and release the much-acclaimed epic 77-minute, single-track album ‘The Whirlwind’ followed by a world tour in 2010 which included an appearance at High Voltage Festival in London where they were joined by legendary Genesis guitarist Steve Hackett. The band’s fourth album ‘Kaleidoscope’ arrived in 2014, going on to win ‘Album Of The Year’ at the Progressive Music Awards. 

THE FLOWER KINGS – announce October 30th as release date for new double album “Islands”

On October 30th, 2020 progressive rockers THE FLOWER KINGS will release their new double album “Islands” on InsideOutMusic, just a year after the group’s much celebrated “Waiting For Miracles”.

Due to the Covid-19-pandemic, the album comes out quite a bit sooner than originally planned as the band’s creative mastermind Roine Stolt explains:

“All shows and festivals were cancelled and the future didn’t really ‘unfold’ itself like we had hoped. To sit out the pandemic with no activities was not an option for us! We can’t be stopped by an evil virus! So, with members living in the USA, Italy, Austria and Sweden, the only way to realize this album, was to use the magic of the ‘net’, sending files around the globe and start building what now has become a mammoth-sized double album of 21 songs.”

The 92 minutes long “Islands” features artwork by legend Roger Dean (Yes, Asia, Gentle Giant, Greenslade, Uriah Heep) and all trademark sounds and melodies, the band is renowned for. From vintage keys to epic guitar solos, from odd drum patterns to symphonic elements, THE FLOWER KINGS present a dynamic and complex record that is bold, bombastic and beautiful.

Stolt reveals the following about the concept of the record:

“The theme of the album is isolation – so the title ‘Islands’ felt like a most relevant title – as much of it circulates around isolation, loss, and the fear of being disconnected. Having to face this unexpected pandemic will leave marks on each one of us for a very long time and to lose loved ones forces us to soldier on, learning and growing a stronger version of ourselves in this fragile cycle of life.

Musically; the aim has been to  create a bigger grand epic piece out of 21 songs – so they are all connected with themes that weave in and out – like the way ‘Sgt Peppers’ or ‘The Lamb’ were built on shorter songs,  but yet linked. So view it as one mega song or as 21 separate pieces, it is all  tailored to be listened to as one piece – like a cinematic 90min long ride.”

Disc One (49:40)

1 – Racing With Blinders On 4:24

2 – From The Ground 4.02

3 – Black Swan 5:53

4 – Morning News 4:01

5 – Broken 6:38

6 – Goodbye Outrage 2:19

7 – Journeyman 1:43

8 – Tangerine 3:51

9 – Solaris 9:10

10 – Heart Of The Valley 4:18

11- Man In A Two Peace Suit 3:21 

Disc Two (43:01)

1 – All I Need Is Love 5:48

2 – A New Species 5:45

3 – Northern Lights 5:43

4 – Hidden Angles 0:50

5 – Serpentine 3:52

6 – Looking For Answers 4:30

7 –Telescope 4:41

8 – Fool’s Gold 3:11

9 – Between Hope & Fear 4:29

10 – Islands 4:12

“Islands” will be available as massive Limited 3LP & 2CD box set with slipcase and 180 gram vinyl housed in two gatefolds, one single sleeve; as Limited Edition 2CD Digipak and Digital Album. Presales will start September 11th, 2020.

Line-Up:

Roine Stolt – Vocal, Ukulele, Guitars, Additional Keyboards

Hasse Fröberg – Vocal & Acoustic Guitar

Jonas Reingold – Bass, Acoustic Guitar

Zach Kamins – Pianos, Organ, Synthesizers, Mellotron, Orchestrations

Mirko DeMaio – Drums, Percussion

Guest: Rob Townsend – Soprano Saxophone

Band picture by Lilian Forsberg.

Roine Stolt’s The Flower King announces ‘Manifesto Of An Alchemist’

Roine Stolt, known as the guitarist, singer, writer and at times band leader of the groups The Flower Kings, Transatlantic, Agents of Mercy, Kaipa DC, as well as from his work with prog icon Jon Anderson and the new super-group The Sea Within, is releasing a new album on November 23rd, 2018. Under the moniker ROINE STOLT’S THE FLOWER KING, ’Manifesto Of An Alchemist’ offers 10 songs and almost 70 minutes of playing time celebrating the style Roine is most revered for: progressive rock, richly orchestrated with all the trademark elements from four decades of the genre.

Roine comments: “Unlike many later albums, where recordings have continued over months, this new album has been a fairly quick and effective affair – we started tracking in Holland at the beginning of July and mix was done by mid-August! The songs are written in a very ‘unorthodox’ way – some melodic content and some riffs are ideas that have been circulating for years – some may even be from before the first TFK album – they just hadn’t found a home in any of the bands/albums I did in the last 15 years yet.”

‘Manifesto Of An Alchemist’ is a celebration of all the styles that have been part of the colourful, daring and dynamic songwriting and arrangements that Roine masters like no other, yet also offers a more immediate, more hands on approach. “Like that first TFK album, I’m the main lead vocalist here again – it works as these lyrics are important to me and resonate with my view of the world. A lot of the guitar work is actually my spontaneous ‘demo’ guitars” and that goes for much of the synth work, too. I didn’t want to ‘process’ ideas too much as there is much power in the initial creation – I wanted to keep it that way.”

The album features a host of other musicians, including long-time collaborators Jones Reingold, Hans Froberg & Michael Stolt, as well as fellow The Sea Within member Marco Minnemann, Max Lorentz, Zach Kamins, Rob Townsend & Nad Sylvan.

‘Manifesto Of An Alchemist’ features stunning artwork from Shaun Beyond (https://www.instagram.com/shaunbeyond/), and will arrive as a limited edition CD digipak, Gatefold 180g 2LP + CD & as digital download.

You can find the full track-listing below:

1.Rainsong

2.Lost America

3.Ze Pawns

4.High Road

5.Rio Grande

6.Next To A Hurricane

7.The Alchemist

8.Baby Angels

9.Six Thirty Wake-Up

10.The Spell Of Money

As previously announced, Roine will take The Flower Kings catalogue on tour later this year, as well as playing tracks from this new album. He comments: “I am excited that the album will be released in November this year and at the same time will be in South America playing The Flower Kings music with a band that also includes Hasse Froberg & Jonas Reingold and also introduces two younger friends; Zach Kamins on keyboards and Mirko DiMaio on drums – both fabulous musicians. We will also bring this to Europe where we join forces with legends Spocks Beard.”

South America 2018
16th November – Carioca Club, Sao Paolo, Brazil
18th November – El Teatrito, Buenos Aires, Argentina
19th November – Teatro Nescafe, Santiago, Chile
21st November – Teatro Del Patronato Peruano Chino, Lima, Peru
23rd November – C3 Stage, Guadalajara, Mexico
24th November – Auditoria Blackberry, Mexico City, Mexico

InsideOutMusic 25th Anniversary European Tour feat. Spock’s Beard & Roine Stolt’s The Flower King
30th November – Cosmopolite, Oslo, Norway
1st December – Kulturhuset Studion, Stockholm, Sweden
2nd December – KB, Malmo, Sweden
4th December – Zeche, Bochum, Germany
5th December – Z7, Pratteln, Switzerland
6th December – La Machine, Paris, France
7th December – De Boerderij, Zoetermeer, Netherlands
8th December – Hedon, Zwolle, Netherlands
9th December – Islington Assembly Hall, London, UK
10th December – Academy Club, Manchester, UK

ROINE STOLT’S THE FLOWER KING online:
www.flowerkings.se
http://www.facebook.com/TheFlowerKings
http://www.reverbnation.com/theflowerkings

INSIDEOUT MUSIC online:
www.insideoutmusic.com
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Review – The Sea Within – The Sea Within – by Jez Denton

The idea of a Supergroup is a funny thing. A gathering of very talented and creative musicians get together to pool their ideas to create something, they hope, that is absolutely amazing. Sometimes that happens, bands like Cream or The Travelling Wilburys spring to mid for a start; however, often what ends up being created is an album that is somewhat written almost by committee, something that inhibits the creative process because of the sheer amount of creativity that is thrown at the project. And unfortunately, for me, the new album from the collective known as The Sea Within, being released on the 22nd June 2018, falls into the latter category.

The roster of acts that the members of the band have worked with, including Steven Wilson, Yes, and Steve Hackett, obviously shows that these guys are hugely talented and, indeed, this is proven by the playing on the album and accompanying 4 track E.P. There are some fantastically gorgeous moments recorded, the sub E.L.O. / Supertramp vibe on the first half of the 14 minute epic Broken Cord is sublime. But here also is the problem; this song would be a perfect six to seven minute progressive pop tune, it’s a shame they felt the need to include a huge swathe of jazz improv. showing off onto it.

This is a fault repeated on a few of the songs, it’s like someone in the band came to the studio with something they were desperate to have included with the production team including it where they could instead of asking the pertinent questions, does it add to the tune, does it fit, is it needed?

In 1832, JMW Turner, at The Royal Exhibition, upstaged his great rival John Constable, by adding to his great painting Helvoetsluys, a small smudge of orange paint. Just that, something very small and insignificant on the face of it, but hugely significant in the bigger picture. Turner understood the principle of less is more, he had the ability to recognise when something was finished. He didn’t need to keep on adding, he just knew that what he had created was good, brilliantly, jaw-droppingly amazing.

A little bit of this level of self-awareness would have been something which would have improved The Sea Within immensely. They have created a very, very good, maybe even great album here; it’s just that I don’t think they realised they had, they couldn’t stop; if they were Turner they wouldn’t have stopped at a little orange splash, they’d potentially have taken a spray can to the canvas and covered the painting in orange.

Ironically, though, the four track E.P. proves that The Sea Within have got that awareness; maybe because of the format it is recorded on helped, but these four tracks, The Roaring Silence, Where Are You Going, Time and Denise are focused, unfussy and spell-blindingly good – a really enjoyable 28 minutes or so of driving, clever and immense progressive pop rock.

For me, if I was the producer, I would have taken all the superfluous showy off bits out of the album, lost a couple of weaker tracks and included the E.P. in the album itself. Perhaps it’s a project one of the erstwhile musicians, Steven Wilson perhaps, could get their teeth into – turning this reasonable and worthy album by very talented musicians into the potentially great one that is hidden in it. For the listener it is a worthwhile listen, but I’m convinced it could be, and should be, so much more with a helluva a lot less on it.

Released 22nd June 2018

Order The Sea Within here

The Sea Within – Roine Stolt, Daniel Gildenlöw, Jonas Reingold, Tom Brislin & Marco Minnemann – announce self-titled debut album

The Sea Within – the new art-rock collective comprising of Roine Stolt(Transatlantic, The Flower Kings), Daniel Gildenlöw (Pain of Salvation), Jonas Reingold (Steve Hackett, The Flower Kings, Karmakanic, The Tangent), Tom Brislin (Yes Symphonic, Renaissance, Spiraling, Deborah Harry) & Marco Minnemann (The Aristocrats, Steven Wilson, UK, Joe Satriani) – have announced that their debut self-titled album will be released on June 22nd,  2018.

Let’s get one thing straight from the start. The Sea Within is more of an amalgamation of some serious talents, than a regular “supergroup”. These musicians have come together to create a unique album.  Guitarist/vocalist Roine Stolt, bassist Jonas Reingold, keyboard player/vocalist Tom Brislin, drummer/vocalist Marco Minnemann and vocalist/guitarist Daniel Gildenlöw have a vast reservoir of experience. Look at the portmanteau of artists with who they’ve worked: The Flower Kings, Transatlantic, Jon Anderson, Steven Wilson,The Aristocrats, Joe Satriani, Yes, Steve Hackett, Renaissance, Pain Of Salvation, Deborah Harry, Meatloaf, Karmakanic … that of itself tells you this is something very special.

“I suppose it all began to take shape in the autumn of 2016,” explains Stolt“I had a chat with Thomas Waber, the boss at InsideOut Music, about the idea of putting together a new band.  I wanted to move in a fresh direction with new collaborations. So Thomas gave me the ‘go ahead’ to seek musicians for a new project.”First on-board was  The Flower Kings bass player Jonas Reingold.- “He is a long time bandmate and friend and we were also very keen to get keyboardist Tom (Brislin) involved – after seeing his synth pyrotechnics with legends Yes ‘Symphonic’ and with Camel. Then we have been a fans of ‘Aristocrats’ drummer Marco for a long time; I first heard of him 15 years ago and he is a brilliant drummer, unique energy. Then when we discussed ideas for singers, Daniel’s name came up, he has such a great range and dynamic voice and we’ve worked together on and off over the years.” Also added later to the bands line-up for live shows was vocalist & guitarist Casey McPherson of ‘Flying Colors’ & ‘Alpha Rev’, who also sings a couple of songs on the album.

Initially the band went to Livingston Studios in London last September to begin the process of assembling all the material and recording it for the debut album.Most of the material you’ll hear are really band compositions. Of course, ideas were triggered by all of us. Sometimes Jonas would come up with a  part, chord sequence or tune  and  then I or Tom would write melody &  lyric and some new riff section and Marco enhancing  with further  musical metric twists and developments – then Daniel would add or  rewrite some of the lyrics, change or add  more  melodies. Overall, the vast majority of the tracks have been worked on and developed by all of us in one way or another.

The entire recording situation took about six months, and the band also have some very special guests featured on the album. We have got Jordan Rudess from Dream Theater playing piano on one song. The legendary Jon Anderson sings on another track, while ‘wind ace’ Rob Townsend, who plays saxophone and flute with Steve Hackett, is also on the record. Each of them brings a different flavour to the music.” 

“People have asked me how I would describe what we have done, and it is almost impossible. I would have to say it sounds like…us, ‘The Sea Within’. Our tastes are very eclectic – from prog to jazz to classical, to heavy rock, folk, punk, electronica and pop. We all come from a different background – so here everything goes. This has been about putting those diverse influences into the music. I feel you will hear all that’s good about pop – with great melodies and hooks – plus the rawness of metal, improvisations, symphonic and movie soundtracks. We also left room for each of us to take off on flights of instrumental jamming. That was the basic idea, anyway. But until we all got together, we had no idea where it would lead or if it would actually work.” The band have ended up recording close to two hours of music, and will be releasing it all in June on what will be a self-titled album.

The Sea Within as a music collective have plans to perform live, and will make their stage debut at ‘Night Of The Prog’ in Loreley, Germany which happens from July 13-15 and will bring special guests for that evening. As far as I am concerned, we will try do as much touring as possible. We have a great band, great label and our agent Rob Palmen on-board.  We have great artwork by Marcela Bolivar, all looks bright.  However Daniel will not be able to join us for touring now, as he has commitments with main band Pain Of Salvation. With Casey taking the vocal spot, now with us live, we can go out on the road and play this album and beyond and grow as a band. We have so much to offer musically, on record and on stage and I am sure we will develop a lot over the next few years.   But ‘The Sea Within’ album is a great start. I am excited for everyone to hear what we have done and am now thrilled to start working on the songs for the live show.”

The album will be available as a special edition 2CD digipak, gatefold 2LP vinyl + 2CD & as digital download. You can find the full track listing below:
Disc 1:

1.Ashes of Dawn
2.They Know My Name
3.The Void
4.An Eye for an Eye for an Eye
5.Goodbye
6.Sea Without
7.Broken Cord
8.The Hiding of the Truth
Disc 2:
1.The Roaring Silence
2.Where Are You Going?
3.Time
4.Denise

As mentioned, The Sea Within has recently announced their first confirmed live date, taking to the stage at Night of the Prog Festival 2018 at Loreley, Germany on the weekend of 13-15th July 2018. Tickets are available now here: http://www.nightoftheprogfestival.com/en/home-2/

International Super Prog project An Endless Sporadic release new album Magic Machine on September 16th

Front preview

One of the worlds most elusive yet breathtakingly captivating progressive rock bands, An Endless Sporadic, is set to return on 16th September 2016 with a new album, ‘Magic Machine’.

‘Magic Machine’ is a showcase for mind-bending musicianship and rich expressiveness via avante garde film-score soundscapes. An abstract journey through different styles of music and environments, the album offers a coruscating kaleidoscope of colours and joy, flashes of stylistic innovation featuring ensemble work that is staggeringly packed full of drama yet still meaningful from a compositional standpoint. This is an aurally challenging album with an experimentally wide sound palette, but as a whole is assuredly palatable, mesmerising and resides in a class paralleled by none.

Zach 1 small

Joining master multi instrumentalist Zach Kamins on this album is a stellar line-up of virtuoso musicians (we stopped counting at 30 instruments…all recorded live and including Hand Hammered Lasagne Trays!) and special guests including Jordan Rudess (Dream Theater, Liquid Tension Experiment), Roine Stolt (The Flower Kings), Michael Iago Mellender (Sleepytime Gorilla Museum) and Navene K (Animals as Leaders, Entheos) to name just a few!

Comments Jordan Rudess: “Zach has an enormous musical talent that I’ve been aware of for a long time. It was my pleasure to play some tracks on ‘Magic Machine’ as well as to be part of this important step in his career journey. The album is filled with awesome compositions and great playing!”

Hailing from the hallowed halls of Berklee College of Music in Boston, the brains behind An Endless Sporadic, Zach Kamins, is no stranger to the synergy or intuitiveness that his particular brand of prog-rock-jazz-fusion offers.  Anyone who has ever played Guitar Hero can attest to the beauty of An Endless Sporadic and their songs. The band gained most of their popularity with the song, “Impulse,” which was placed on Guitar Hero 3. After that they recorded, “Anything,” which was placed on Guitar Hero World Tour. From here they produced more songs to create their first EP, “Ameliorate.” And so An Endless Sporadic was born.

Zach 6 small

Comments Zach: “I feel that Magic Machine was created out of a strong desire to bring out the true intention of the name, An Endless Sporadic. I have always had a passion for music that was part of a bigger story, where ideas can take time to develop and be presented in many different ways. “
Magic Machine’s visually stunning cover art was created by Costin Chioreanu (Arch Enemy, Ihsahn, Opeth, Hexvessel)

Magic Machine track listing:

  1. The Departure
  2. Magic Machine
  3. Galactic Tactic
  4. Finding The Falls
  5. The Assembly
  6. Agile Descent
  7. Sky Run
  8. Through The Fog
  9. Sea Voyage
  10. Impulse I

 

Review – Anderson/Stolt – Invention of Knowledge – by Gary Morley

IoK cover

This could get messy. I’m tasked with scribbling a few lines about the upcoming journey into the “Y” Universe undertaken by 2 legends, Prog heroes that 99% of you reading this know more about than me. Yes, it’s part of “That” band’s DNA, as expected. It shares that “Y” chromosome, with the “X” supplied by the Flower King and his court.

I’d say that it distils the “Yes”sence, the very DNA of that home world and that if the CD underwent a Paternity test, the answer would be in the affirmative.

It could be a fragile creature born in the heart of the sunrise, floating on silent wings of freedom. It could be the owner of a lonely heart…

Oops sorry about that. That’s too easy and a cheap shot. Jon Anderson is a unique and individual vocalist and sounds like, well, Jon Anderson no matter what the setting and here it’s on a grand scale. Mister A and Mr S, with help from Mr R have created a great sounding album that deserves to be played loudly through proper speakers. I am willing to bet that the vinyl sleeve will be at least a gatefold, probably a triptych of Roger Dean Acid fried surreal dreamscapes, and such is the warm 70’s vibe that even the mp3 files radiate.

There are ethereal voices, orchestras, layers of guitar and Big church organs, all heralding back to the heydays, the golden summers of the seventies, when Prog was king and boys (and girls) sat, rapt at the feet of the minstrels playing and singing for them.

The music takes you to this parallel place, you get lost in the swirl of words and notes. The language is a familiar one, but the meaning? Well, “be nice to each other on your journey” seems to be the best my babel fish can provide after listening a couple of times.

To be honest, it’s the whole rather than the sum of the parts that we are celebrating here.

I could break it down, track by track, note by note but I’m neither anal enough nor knowledgeable enough to try.

It’s a thing of beauty, ethereal and floaty. It’s the joy of living rather than documenting. More abstract art than selfie.

Timeless, resonant with that which has gone before, there are echoes of the old- that warm semi hollow body guitar sound, the thunderous bass runs, the big church organ that all go to make up the language of the affirmative.

There are also flashes of the other parents – those vocal harmonies, that guitar sound, that break with just bass and keyboards- Very Flowery, but ultimately this is a celebration of a particular band, and it works beautifully.

band

The first time I played it, it was a grey and cold day and the warmth of the music felt at odds with my mood. Today, it’s bright, sunny and hot and the ambience suits the music, it feels “right” for  summer’s day. The perennial optimism of the lyric lifts the soul, although the deeper meaning passes me by, I get a feeling, rather than a definite statement.

At the final analysis, this is a labour of love, the sounds and vibes are faithful to the era that it celebrates. However, I must confess that the excesses of the period that allegedly spawned punk are echoed here, with it all merging into a body  of work that works on one level, but it’s a bit like angel delight. Tastes good, you get stuck in and before you know it, you’ve overindulged and are suffering from indigestion. There are some lovely parts – A lovely piano piece at the climax of Everybody Heals has just caused me to pause from scratching this to listen to it in full, but this album has that marmite potential. Part of me loves it, but another part says to the inner 15 year old that there is more to life than gatefold sleeves, Science Fiction tinged lyrics and everything including the kitchen sink tracks.

So, hit or myth? I’m glad that I’ve had the opportunity to spend time with this album. It is particular exercise in nostalgia for a world that I was just too young to be a part of, an elder brother’s world whereas I was the eldest. I tried. At the time I adored “Going for the One”, the first album I remember hearing / buying by Yes. I’ve filled the gaps in my collection sporadically over the years and this will join them on that shelf. It will get played, I am looking forward to seeing the artwork and hearing it in its full uncompressed digital glory, but I’ve moved on and whilst the inner 15 year old me will be enraptured, 40 years of exposure to the world outside of Yes means that the modern me will wax nostalgically for the world that this invokes, encourage the artists to be true to their muse by purchasing their efforts and accept that I’ve moved on.

Yes world – a great place to visit, but would I want to live there? I’m an urban dweller now, flouncing around slaying dragons, tripping away across summer meadows to the minstrel’s tune is a dream of an Arcadian land that I’m a stranger in. It’s an aspirational holiday destination; one that for the duration of your visit is perfect as it’s totally removed from day to day living.

Released 24th June 2016 – Europe, 8th July 2016 USA/ROW.

Buy ‘Invention of Knowledge’ from Inside Out