Roine Stolt has had a long and varied career since joining the band Kaipa as a teenager in 1974, the guitarist, singer and song writer going on to be involved with The Flower Kings, Transatlantic, Agents of Mercy, The Tangent and the recent The Sea Within project, to name but a few.
Like the first Flower Kings album, which was ostensibly a solo album, Roine has returned to the lead vocals as he feels this “works as these lyrics are important to me”. The decision was taken to record the album quickly to preserve the spontaneity in the guitars and keyboards. Roine has tried to resist over processing his ideas too much, indeed the tracking started at the beginning of July with mixing done by mid-August; in this current climate that’s a very timely manner. Does this make a difference you might ask, well yes it does, the music has a more immediate sound, a little less polished but that is where it begins to succeed. The music does have that recognisable Roine symphonic progressive rock feel, with his signature fluid guitar sound, which makes for a pleasing mix, but added to this are some different sounding riffs. Roine has stated that the songs were written in an “unorthodox way – some melodic content and some riffs are ideas that have been circulating for years”.
The album contains nearly seventy minutes of music spread over ten tracks of various lengths, ranging from one and a half minutes up to twelve and a half – no overlong ‘prog epics’ here, and on this occasion that’s a good thing. There is an impressive list of guest musicians present, including Marco Minnemann, Jonas Reingold, Rob Townsend, Hans Froberg and Nad Sylvan to name but a few, and their contributions are noticeable. The album also features some striking artwork from Shaun Beyond, which I am sure will look at its best on the vinyl release.
The album opens with the atmospheric Rainsong, a short piece at one and a half minutes that leads us into the lead promotional track, Lost America, which throws up some surprises. Beginning with a familiar Roine sound and style, part way through there is a sudden change to what appears to be an AC/DC riff structure. This does work and it ups the interest level further. The longest track on the album, High Road, contains some lovely guitar from Roine, and it is here that you can hear his Beatles influences in some subtle ways.
On this album Roine has tried to mix things up a little in the way he portrays his influences; this may work for some people, but not for others. The track The Alchemist demonstrates this well, with a different, almost jerky start, the guitar rising above before some excellent contributions from Rob Townsend which add lovely bluesy and jazzy leanings. There is variety and interest created throughout the song with the ending providing more great jazzy tones. On a different tack, Baby Angels begins in an almost twee way, but develops into a beautiful piece.
The music on this album is a brave choice for Roine, things have been mixed up a little, with shorter song times and different influences. There remains a familiar Flower Kings feel, but with an underlying feeling that maybe the songs would not be a comfortable fit for that band. Roine himself has said that the ideas for the songs 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”
An interesting album that has benefited from repeated plays, subtly revealing hidden depths but retaining the immediacy of its recording. If you are a fan of Roine’s work it is worth investigating, I am glad I did.
01. Rainsong (1:27)
02. Lost America (9:50)
03. Ze Pawns (8:27)
04. High Road (12:32)
05. Rio Grande (7:50)
06. Next to a Hurricane (4:25)
07. The Alchemist (6:57)
08. Baby Angels (3:48)
09. Six Thirty Wake-Up (4:17)
10. The Spell of Money (9:48)
Total Time – 69:21
Roine Stolt – Lead Vocals, Guitars, Synths, Keyboards, Bass
Marco Minnemann – Drums
Michael Stolt – Bass, Vocals
Jonas Reingold – Bass
Rob Townsend – Saxophone, Flute
Max Lorentz – Hammond B3, Vocals
Zach Kamins – Moog, Keyboards
Hasse Fröberg – Vocals
Nad Sylvan – Vocals
Record Label: InsideOut Music
Formats: Ltd. CD Digipak, 180g Gatefold 2-LP Vinyl (inc. CD), Digital Download.
Country of Origin: Sweden
Date of Release: 23rd November 2018