Exposé Online banner

The Flower Kings — Retropolis
(Inside Out Music IOMACD 4010, 1996/2000, CD)

by Mike Grimes, 1997-02-01:

Retropolis Cover art

The latest release from Roine Stolt and Co., Retropolis, is a natural follow-up to last year's Back in the World of Adventures. The variety dominating that album is present here also, but the overall mood on Retropolis is more laid back in a Pink Floyd kind of way than the last album. Don't get me wrong, though. Other than the occasional vocal similarity, the music doesn't sound overly Floydian — with the exception a part in the middle of "Retropolis by Night," which has a very "Welcome to the Machine" feel, and "The Road Back Home" with its alternating vocal lines. Other influences are more abundant. "Silent Sorrow" has a very Beatles sound for example. Most of the tunes here flow in a relaxed mid-tempo groove. The songs don't drag along, but they aren't fast paced rockers either. Not attempting to fix the unbroken, The Flower Kings continue to entertain with long instrumental sections separating the vocal parts nicely. These instrumental excursions are perhaps The Flower Kings' greatest asset. Most of the tracks have at least some vocals, but out of the 70 minutes of the album, at least half is vocal free. The vocals sound somewhere between Pink Floyd, Steve Hackett, and John Wetton — especially the first part of "The Judas Kiss," which sounds remarkably like something from Starless and Bible Black. It's hard to pick just a few bands that these guys sound like — ELP, King Crimson, Yes, Steve Hackett, Pink Floyd are all in there, plus several more. Actually, a few of the tracks, especially "There Is More to This World," bring to mind The Chris Squire Experiment — sort of Yes, but not quite. Canine special guest appearances on not just one, but two(!) tracks — how can you go wrong?


by Alain Lachapelle, 1997-02-01:

For starters, Retropolis is a commercial progressive album. It's definitively got wide-audience appeal. We find here a balanced mix of vocal (with a tone reminiscent of John Wetton's) and instrumental parts; a rightful blend of simple, easy-driven and more complex instrumental passages played in such a precise way that it has to please a lot of prog amateurs. And this is one of the strong points of The Flower Kings: their flawless, strong rendition of what may be simpler pieces at the start. Another strong point, that goes along with the musical expertise, is the ability to introduce, settle, explore and then bring back home musical themes. It is done in such a way that just about everyone can find something in here to listen to, even commercial radio listeners whose definition of progressive lies exclusively with Pink Floyd and Kansas. Yes, you won't find any ground-breaking, earth-shattering music in Retropolis. But this doesn't mean at all that there are no charms to be found. The atmosphere is bright and clear in general. There are no dark and overtly complex passages as there was with their Swedish compeers Änglagård. The open tones gives the music a wider mass-appeal than Echolyn's. Retropolis is a prog album that does a lot to bring the music under the accessible realm while managing to stay away from the oft-criticized "neo"-logisms. Recommended to just about anyone wishing to first listen to a good deal of finely crafted, strongly rendered, open music, and then to whistle along on the lighter passages. A very good prog "song" album, Retropolis will surely fare quite well.


Filed under: Reissues , Issue 11 , 2000 releases, 1996 releases

Related artist(s): Tomas Bodin, The Flower Kings, Roine Stolt, Hasse Bruniusson

More info

Latest news

2017-04-16
ProgDay 2017 Announces First Bands – Flor de Loto, Sonar, and Infinien are the first three performers to be announced for the 2017 edition of the long-running ProgDay Festival. The 23rd ProgDay takes place Saturday and Sunday, September 2nd and 3rd, at Storybook Farm in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. » Read more

2017-04-16
Allan Holdsworth RIP – Surely in the list of artists who have contributed to the sound of modern music, there is a special spot for guitarist Allan Holdsworth. His name is known to virtually every student of the instrument in jazz and rock, and his style has been so widely emulated that it's hardly worth mentioning anymore — we can just assume that every guitarist has Holdsworth as an influence. » Read more

2017-02-20
Larry Coryell RIP – One of the greats of jazz guitar has left us at the age of 73. Larry Coryell was one of the founding figures of jazz fusion, but produced a significant body of work the bridged many styles. His group Eleventh House provided a unique take on the combination of jazz and rock that was distinct from contemporaries such as Mahavishnu Orchestra, Return to Forever, and Weather Report. » Read more

2017-01-31
John Wetton RIP – After a long battle with colon cancer, singer and bassist John Wetton has died at the age of 67. As an integral member of such bands as King Crimson, UK, and Asia, his was one of the distinctive voices in progressive rock, lending a human touch to often difficult music. » Read more

2017-01-30
Seaprog Announces First Artists for 2017 – The organizers of the Seaprog Festival in Seattle have announced the first set of confirmed performers for the 2017 festival. The best known names are Jack o' the Clock and Zero Times Everything, but a host of other bands are featured, mostly from the Northwest. The festival will take place June 2-4, 2017. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Indigo - Silent Memories – One cannot listen to Indigo's latest album without acknowledging that, while, good as some of these musical compositions might be, they tend to be spoiled by powdery and derivative lyrics sung in a...  (1994) » Read more

Cruz de Hierro - Crossroads – Some may recall this Mexican quintet from their performance at Baja Prog many years back; in fact they have come a long way toward finding their own sound since those earlier days. Their stock in...  (2008) » Read more

Jack o' the Clock - How Are We Doing, and Who Will Tell Us? – The East Bay area (Oakland and surrounding) has produced some interesting musical hybrids of late. A lot of that no doubt has to do with Fred Frith’s involvement with the esteemed Mills College,...  (2011) » Read more

Nicolas Figeroa - Ko – In his opening move, “El Principio,” Figueroa lets the listener know in no uncertain terms, amid a complex web of multilayered interlocking guitar parts supported by percolating bass and...  (2007) » Read more

Ax Genrich - Wave Cut – Hey, anyone in the mood for a cheery toe-tapping experience courtesy of the pleasantries of MIDI sequencers, drum machines, and other groovy techno devices? False alarm! You won't find it here....  (1997) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues