ROINE STOLT’S THE FLOWER KING
MANIFESTO OF AN ALCHEMIST
DL / vinyl / digipack CD
The first Flower King offering for some time sees a slight variation in the Roine Stolt template.
A little like Ian Anderson and Jethro Tull, The Flower Kings were basically the flower king himself, Roine Stolt. Could be confusing but once the needle drops on Manifesto Of An Alchemist, there’s the certain familiarity of the Stolt style that’s more recently graced Transatlantic and The Sea Within. It also brings us full circle from 1994’s The Flower King. However, unlike that effort where Stolt was essentially the sole contributor, Manifesto… finds him joined by a host of musical chums, most significantly, long term FK bassist Jonas Reingold, Marco Minnemann on drums and some sax from Rob Townsend, a recent partner in the Steve Hackett band.
Regardless of all the ins and outs and who plays what, highly visible are the musical elements that astute progressive music observers will recognise from Stolt’s ever-presence in the genre. His guitar (and vocals, synth and keyboards) are all over the album from the longer form pieces – notably High Road – to the shorter songs and vignettes. So pretty much what you’d expect from Stolt/Flower Kings; the trademark that you’ll find making a similar impression wherever he lays his hat.
With the current manifestation of the Flower King, prog rock goes a little more palatable and comfortable although with the occasional turn of events when there’s the generation of some energy as things take a slightly heavier turn. Lost America has a short riff section that gets about as raw and organic as you’re likely to find and of course there are liberal dashes of finely tuned Stolt guitar particularly in the instrumental Rio Grande and The Alchemist, the latter showcasing the wind talents of Rob Townsend whose duetting with the guitar adds a cool hint of mood music.
The overall impression is of easy and relaxed arrangements that flow into the occasional jazzy vibe with the trade-off that there are moments when it doesn’t quite work; notably Baby Angel and the question of whether or not a 66 minute album without it would suffer or a case of what’s a four minute song between friends. There’s nothing too challenging or difficult and there lies the challenge. Several play throughs and although it’s been pleasant enough there’s nothing that’s made enough of an impression to have you darting back to your player of choice to play again or dig into the lyrics. Listening to The Tangent’s Proxy at the same time may not have helped when the star track on that album, Supper’s Off, induces exactly that emotion.
However, good to see the Flower King back in the garden and leading from the front.
Listen to High Road from the album here:
You can catch Roine on tour with Spock’s Beard in celebration of Inside Out Music’s 25th anniversary – UK date sin London & Manchester.