If you're already into progrock, I needn't say a word about The Flower Kings, as they've long been cherished among the progpeople, but if you by chance haven't heard of 'em and are into jam music, then you most definitely need to know of this group. Banks of Eden continues the glorious Flower Kings tradition of sprawling songs, trad prog vibes, inventive musicianship, absorbing composition, and everything that makes intelligent music irresistible. Founded by guitarist Roine Stolt, originally as a back-up unit for his 1994 solo LP The Flower King, the ensemble's seen many changes but cleaved gratifyingly to often dizzying symphonic grandeur with appropriate pyrotechnics from all concerned. Banks comes in two basic versions: single disc and 2-disc editions. I very strongly recommend all and sundry rush to get the latter before it sells out. Not only does the gem contain 22 more minutes of music but also a 20-minute studio video interview with the band.
Numbers weighs in just past the 25-minute mark, alternating between heavy guitar interludes, Romantic vocal refrains, and gathering momentum. Like Transatlantic, the Kings know what the chops-hungry prog audience wants and delivers it in spades. Banks is the group's 12th studio album, and all have been extravaganzas of complexity, balls out instrumental legerdemain, and mellifluous oases. However, aside from the studio works, there are 4 live releases, 5 limited edition official bootlegs, and 3 fan club issuances, not mention anthologization and a number of members' participations in other musicians' projects. Oh wait, I forgot: in some editions of the group's output, there have been expanded releases that also included DVDs. As is easily seen, these guys are popular enough that they can hazard most anything and leave consumers clamoring for more.
Should you not be a prog-head, perhaps the closest comparatives would be Santana's golden period—Caravanserai, that super-righteous Japanese Lotus set, and Moonflower, but minus the Latinate brass tacks—and then Procol Harum's briefly most psychedelic LP (Shine on Brightly), a bit of the more classical Moody blues, that sort of thing…but without ever dwelling in any one of them solidly, always open to Roine Stolt's very fluid sensibilities. Every Flower Kings release has been on the order of a Dream Theater feast 'par excellence' and Banks of Eden is no exception.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2012, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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