You can't help but root for Roine Stolt. After years as a journeyman musician buffeted by the four winds of trends and fads, he finally got the opportunity to realize his vision, and he's been taking it to the hoop ever since. His prolific output in the late 90s is only amazing in light of how damned GOOD all of it is. This is a solo album he released between STARDUST WE ARE & FLOWER POWER, and it avoids every last pitfall one associates with 'guitarist-releases-instrumental-album' syndrome. Stolt's considerable axe prowess is on display here, but it's not front-and-center as you'd expect. Rather, he uses HYDROPHONIA as an opportunity to show off his compositional chops, offering ten tracks that span a wide range of styles and approaches: his keyboard and bass playing is as impressive as his guitar, and as central to the music. And the music is wonderful, as good as anything appearing on a Flower Kings cd proper. The set opens with 'Cosmic Lodge', a tour-de-force incorporating classical-rock, jazz and a main theme so gloriously anthemic you can picture it as the soundtrack music for Creation itself. This masterpiece segues into the lovely, rollicking-but-gentle 'Shipbuilding'...look, I could rave about all the tracks here (save the Kenny G-like letdown of 'Lobsterland Groove') but none of the shouting would truly indicate the pleasure you'll get from listening to them for yourself. No vocals (a shame as I love his Wettonesque croon) but, even without words, Stolt communicates his enduring, heartfelt love of life clearly and unmistakably. People suffering depression should try listening to this daily - I'm serious, it's safer than pills and saner than psychoanalysis. (Not that I dislike dark'n'disturbing stuff - I've got shelves full of it - but you need a little light in there, too.) HYDROPHONIA is an essential chapter in the continuing saga of Roine Stolt and the Flower Kings: get it now, thank me later.