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

2020-01-15
Carlos Alvarado RIP – Carlos Alvarado, pioneering composer, multi-instrumentalist and pioneer of progressive rock and electronic experimental music in Mexico, passed away January 14th, 2020 at age 68 after a two year battle with cancer.  » Read more

2020-01-12
Wolfgang Dauner RIP – Pianist Wolfgang Dauner, one of the pioneers of both European free jazz and jazz rock, has died at the age of 84. With his own groups and with the United Jazz+Rock Ensemble, his playing and compositions were a prominent presence in European jazz from the mid-60s until just recently. » Read more

2020-01-12
Michael Allison RIP – Michael Allison, who since 1997 has been recording as Darshan Ambient, passed away on January 9th after a long and brave battle with cancer. He has been at at the forefront of the new ambient/electronic music scene, with over eighteen releases to his credit. » Read more

2020-01-10
Neil Peart RIP – One of rock music's defining drummers has died at the age of 67. Neil Peart's work with Rush provided one of the templates for percussion in rock, and he certainly ranks in the top ten most influential drummers of the 20th Century. Peart retired from playing in 2015 due to health issues, and succumbed to brain cancer on January 7, 2020. » Read more

2020-01-07
Joel Vandroogenbroeck RIP – Word has reached us of the death of Joel Vandroogenbroeck, best known as one of the founders of Brainticket, He also recorded electronic music under a variety of names. He was born August 25th, 1938 in Brussels, Belgium and died December 23, 2019 in Arlesheim, Switzerland, aged 81. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Five-O-One AM - 21st Century Dream – Somewhere between Marillion (Season's End) and the SI label bands Lies Five-O-One AM. That is, song oriented pop with elements of prog. Combine that with WMMS's reputation and Five-O-One AM...  (1999) » Read more

Matraz - Gritaré – I’m a big fan of many female vocalists, with Tori Amos, Björk, Kate Bush, Jane Siberry, and others high on my all-time favorite artist list. It’s always been a disappointment to me...  (2004) » Read more

Planetarium - Infinity – Or is it Infinity – Planetarium? Most sources go with Planetarium being the group yet Vinyl Magic seems to have this listed as Infinity. Either way, this group is certainly lucky to have their...  (1995) » Read more

Morris Pert - The Music of Stars & Desert Dances – The compositional premise for The Music of Stars is not as rigorous as Cage’s Etudes Australes or as evocative as Ligeti’s Atmosphères. Pert simply enough organizes nine pieces by...  (2008) » Read more

Martin Velíšek & Už Jsme Doma - Jaro, Peklo, Podzim, Zima (Spring, Hell, Autumn, Winter) – This upstart Czech ensemble occupies firm Rock in Opposition territory, with honking horn fanfares over rhythmically tricky power chord riffs. However, this generalization doesn’t quite work...  (1999) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues