A review The Flower Kings, UNFOLD THE FUTURE (2002; remastered and reissued, 2017). Tracks: The Truth Will Set You Free; Monkey Business; Black and White; Christianopel; Silent Inferno; The Navigator; Vox Humana; Genie in a Bottle; Fast Lane; Grand Old World; Soul Vortex; Rollin’ the Dice; The Devil’s Schooldance; Man Overboard; Solitary Shell; Devil’s Playground; and Too Late for Tomatos
Grade: A+. Glorious. Full. Enchanting. Mesmerizing.
As noted last week on progarchy.com, the Flower Kings released its first boxset, A KINGDOM OF COLOURS (Insideout Music), in very late 2017. Granted, we’re more than a bit late coming to the news, and I (Brad) only realized that the boxset had come out when seeing an advertisement for the forthcoming second boxset.
This set—a gorgeously packaged one at that—is part 1 of 2, re-releasing the band’s first official seven studio albums. Missing are any b-sides, extra tracks, live releases, and the album that started it all, Stolt’s 1994 solo album, THE FLOWER KING. But, these absences are certainly fine, as the boxset is what it is. The next set, according to Insideout, will have three full disks of new or previously unreleased material. Additionally and spectacularly, of those original albums re-released for A KINGDOM OF COLOURS, the final one, 2002’s UNFOLD THE FUTURE, has been completely remastered by the Flower King himself, Mr. Roine Stolt.
Hwaet! The Genesis in days gone by
and the guitarist who ruled them had courage and greatness.
We have heard of that guitarist’s heroic campaigns.
A comfort sent by God to the peoples of the world.
He knew what they had tholed,
the long times and troubles they’d come through
without a leader; so the Lord of Life,
the glorious Almighty, made this Hackett renowned.
–With apologies to the Beowulf poet.
Hackett is back, and, of course, he’s greater than before. He has already conquered Grendel and Grendel’s mother. Now, he returns to fulfill the prophecy of the Hierophant.
If you’ve not guessed, my copy of Hackett’s latest live offering, WUTHERING NIGHTS: LIVE IN BIRMINGHAM, arrived in my post box today. And, oh, what a joy it is. I’ve listened through it all, and, now, I’m rather stuck on this version of “Shadow of the Hierophant.”
As I listen and watch it repeatedly, I am reminded what first brought me to prog rock, oh so many years ago. It is this, most certainly, this. The build, the lingering, the apex, the mystery, and the certainty.
I’ve always considered VOYAGE OF THE ACOLYTE the lost Genesis album of 1975, much like Squire’s FISH OUT OF WATER is the lost Yes album of the same year. “Shadow of the Hierophant” was stunning in 1975. It’s even better in 2018.
Hackett’s recent outings and return to the beloved prog of the 1970s only makes me realize how alive this music remains. Watching Hackett, King, O’Toole, Townsend, Beggs, and Lehmann perform “Shadow of the Hierophant” reminds me that even in this world of sorrows, heroes arise, called forth by the God to remind us of what beauty still remains.
The Tangent, SLOW RUST OF FORGOTTEN MACHINERY (Insideout Music, 2017). Tracks: Two Swings; Doctor Livingstone; Slow Rust; The Story of Lead and Astatine; A Few Steps Down the Wrong Road; and Basildonxit.
Andy Tillison is not a happy man.
From the art work, to the vocal work, to the lyrics of this latest The Tangent album, SLOW RUST, Tillison has embraced a critical response to the rapidly growing and evolving fascistic, fascist-lite, and insular movements of the western world over the last several years. As artist, as man, and as thinker, Tillison hopes to stay the dark trajectory of the West or even, God willing, reverse it. While the great red-headed man of prog mischief has never backed away from controversial viewpoints, he’s rarely been this explicit.
Even the album cover makes one pause. Previously, Tillison has joked that he represents the dark side of prog, the antithesis, in particular, to Big Big Train, and the cover seems to project this rather profoundly, as a (presumably) single Muslim mother walks along dilapidated railroad tracks, holding the hands of her two daughters. The once majestic train has derailed, and the crossing sign (the closest thing to the viewer of the album) reads “go.” Clearly, several things have gone very, very wrong. There’s no hedgerow in the distance, only a ruined, collapsed, and spent civilization. There’s some blue sky showing, but it’s obscured by the ruddy reds of smoke and grit floating all too freely in a broken and war-torn world.
FROM INSIDEOUT music MAY 9 2017
The Tangent, the progressive rock group led by Andy Tillison, have announced the release of the first new music since 2015. Their new ninth studio album ‘The Slow Rust of Forgotten Machinery’ is set for release on 21st July 2017. The line-up for this album once again features Tillison on keyboards, vocals (and for the first time on a Tangent record – drums), Jonas Reingold on bass, Luke Machin on guitars and vocals, and Theo Travis on sax and flutes plus new member Marie-Eve de Gaultier on keys and vocals. There are also guest appearances from author/playwright and Chumbawamba founder Boff Whalley on vocals, and upcoming DJ/producer Matt Farrow.
Band leader Andy Tillison had this to say: “Roger Waters did prove the ability of Progressive Music to act as a vehicle to communicate ideas about the current world scene. In both Pink Floyd’s “The Final Cut” and his “Amused To Death” albums, Waters set a challenge to others in the genre. A challenge which has not been frequently accepted.”
The album sees The Tangent in political commentary mode once again – this time often focussing on the horrendous plight of refugees from war torn parts of the world – and the way in which they are treated by the West, and in particular by the tabloid press. The album laments the new trend in building walls and defending borders across the world yet takes time to look at the breakup of friendships and other more personal issues – along with a song about the fate of wildlife in the modern consumer world.
And it’s a Progressive Rock Record. Full of intricacies, long developed pieces, challenging arrangements and virtuoso playing from all members. New sounds and styles (the band have brought a DJ on board for some sections) – new voices and techniques (first female vocals in The Tangent since the “Not As Good As The Book” album 10 years ago). A new producer in the form of Luke Machin whose open and deep/clear sound is a major factor of this album, a new drummer in the form of Andy Tillison who decided at long last (after drumming for 30 years) to let his own performances guide the rest of the band rather than adding another musician later. And after 13 years of asking, Jonas finally agreed to play some double bass in a song where Luke also plays some Scat guitar and Andy does a full on drum solo.
“The Slow Rust Of Forgotten Machinery” also features stellar artwork from Marvel / DC Comics artist Mark Buckingham. The sleeve of the album is totally based on the music it contains and was especially created for this project.
The album will be available on limited digipak CD, gatefold 2LP + CD, and digital download, and you can find the full track-listing below:
Two Rope Swings
Doctor Livingstone (I Presume)
The Sad Story of Lead and Astatine
A Few Steps Down the Wrong Road
The band will head out on tour in support of the new record, once again joining forces with Sweden’s Karmakanic to present albums by both bands. The full list of dates is as follows:
Aug 26th 2017 – Bierkeller, Reichenbach, DE
Sept 1st 2017 – 2 days of Prog +1 Festival, Veruno, Italy
Sept 9th 2017 – The Boerderij, Zoetermeer
Oct 8th 2017 – SUMMERS END Festival, Chepstow, UK
Oct 21st 2017 – Progtoberfest, Chicago, USA
Oct 22nd 2017 – Shank Hall, Milwaukee WI, USA
Oct 24th 2017 – Token Lounge, Westland MI, USA
Oct 26th 2017 – Roxy & Dukes, Dunellen NJ, USA
Oct 27th 2017 – The Regent Theatre, Arlington MA, USA
Look out for more information in the coming weeks!
The Tangent online:
Visit the new Insideout Shop:
Though perhaps not totally polite, I will admit my shock that this album isn’t discussed more among serious proggers. To my mind, prog really doesn’t get any better or more innovative than this. Though The Tangent is always extraordinary, this is The Tangent at its absolute best: weird; twisty; intelligent; cutting; affirming; angular; and organic.
My favorite part of the album, part VII of the third movement, “Afternoon Malaise”:
I shear the bolt, he turns the screw
We all have our part, and there’s one for you
And we’re all alone, yet surrounded by peers
Try to make our mark as we work off the years … crawling, marching
And we keep our homes if we pay our tax
I ask myself, “Just who struck that deal and just how far back?”
And some work for fortunes, some work for a dime
And some work for pensions, and some just do their time
And some of ’em build empires and some bring them down
Some work for recognition, ain’t we all just the clowns?
‘Cos you can’t take it with you
There’s no luggage allowed
No you can’t take it with you
No matter how rich or proud
Your kids will sell it off on Ebay
For God’s sake don’t waste their time
‘Cos you can’t take it with you
You can leave just a little bit behind
Our first show since Halloween! Lots of great music on this one. Four thirty-minute sets with only minimal talking on my part. A restrained DJ am I! Promise.
- The Fierce and the Dead, Parts I-III