This is the way prog should be: straight forward short songs, jazz influenced instrumental passages and a 25 minute title track. If you like Dream Theater or Neal Morse this is for you. In fact the main man of The Flower Kings, Roine Stolt, is also guitarist/vocalist with prog super group Transatlantic. Don't expect one track to sound like the next, each one is totally original. It might take you a couple of listens to get into the album but once you do, you will play it continually.
I think this is definitely the best if not equal best The Flower Kings album in existence. It just has such a strong atmosphere that injects all of the compositions with a magic beyond analysis. You can deconstruct it all you like but you can't quite describe how this atmosphere is created. It is truly like magic!
If I could make an attempt to describe the atmosphere I'd have to say that it sounds like a cross between 'Alice in Wonderland' and 'Pilgrim's Progress'. Both of these works are heavy on symbolism and the oppositions of sacred and profane, order and chaos, and laughter and tears.
The album has an almost carnival-esque feeling to it, with a surreal menacing twist. This is typified by song titles like 'Circus Brimstone' and 'Crying Clown'.
And, to cap it all off, this sprawling but engaging double album, ends with an epic progressive rock title track that actually lives up to the true tradition of progressive rock epics. It equals if not surpasses 'Supper's Ready' by Genesis and Yes' 'Close to the Edge'. I do not say this lightly as I love those two masterpieces very dearly!
It's only quite recently I've started listening to these guys. It's a shame they weren't around in the 70's; they'd have been every bit as big as Yes or Genesis.
This album, in particular, is huge in scope and, at times, quite a difficult one to get into. But the rewards are there for those of us who have attention spans beyond three minutes.
I kept being reminded of some of the great symphonists, Mahler, Bruckner etc., who take a simple musical idea and build a hugely complex, ambitious and beautiful musical structure around it.
I'd have no qualms about recommending this album to any Prog fan, but when I hear an album like this, I wish some of the self styled musical commentators, who seem to enjoy deriding Prog simply because it requires you to pay attention, could learn to appreciate that there's more to music than the three-minute pop song.
I like a bit of light music as much as the next guy, but sometimes you just need something to get your teeth into...
The sign of any good album is the test of time and this album just continues to grow with every listen. Both CDs on this double album are packed with a variety of great songs and instrumentals. The second disc in particular is full of great tracks, one after another. If you're not accustomed to this style of progressive rock music then it can take a while to sink in, but well worth the journey. I wouldn't say that I'm a massive Prog fan, far from it, but this album is just a pleasure to listen to.
In my opinion this is the greatest work by the flower kings. Everything about this double cd collection of tracks is utterly perfect. However, when I first purchased this cd I gave it one listen and thought it was their weakest effort, how wrong I was. After returning to this cd a month or two later, I played it and played it and dared not to like it; as with all music, the best cds are those that seem to take the longest get in to. Anyway back to stardust we are. The sheer quantity and quality of music on offer here is breathtaking. The flow of songs and their composition is seemless. It would be impossible to write about all of the tracks here without boring everyone to death, but the first disc is comprised of many haunting, emotional instrumentals, and the songs are of unbelievable quality such as in the eyes of the world and the huge church organ classic 'church of your heart' which showcases the wonderfully talented Tomas Bodin on keys.
The second disc sticks more rigidly to out and out songs and add so many delightful pieces of exotic and eccentric percussion effects from Hasse Bruniusson and atmospheric intros it almost takes you away to another place and time! Roine Stolt is an absolute legend and on this set of songs his vocals along with Hasse Froberg seem more personal and that goes for Roine's guitar playing too.
I really don't want to name any song as a highlight because everything here is one big highlight. I really wish I had the words to do this album justice and explain how vital this music is to anyone that hasn't heard it but unfortunately I can't. Just buy it because I doubt there is any prog rock out there that can touch this!
Ok, I don't useally bother to write reviews and such, but this is an exception. In my book, Stardust We Are is one the most incredible albums ever released. Because of it's complex nature, it may take some time before you realise the beauty of this music. But when you do, just about everything else will pale in comparison. Flower Kings mixes rock, pop, classical, jazz, folk and prog into their music, but I guess their music should be classified as progressive and symphonic rock. You can hear some influence from 70s bands like Yes and Genesis, but FK definately have their own style and sound. The thing that really strikes me with this album, isn't the superb musicianship, or the great production, but the compositions. I don't think I've ever heard more beautiful and interesting songs. Songs like "Church of your heart", "compassion", "stardust we are" etc., makes just about everything in the top20 charts sound so incredible dull in comparison. Progressive rock has gotten a bad reputation, because a lot of music mags love to critize this form of music. This is highly undeserved in my opinion. There are some progressive rock bands though, that focus more on technique than songwriting. FK is certainly not one of those. A wide range of instruments has been used on this record. You'll hear all those vintage keyboard sounds like hammond, mellotron, clavinet, analog synths etc, but there's also a lot of new exciting keyboard sounds + real church organ and cello etc. All these different instruments, have been used in the most convincing way. In other words, the arrangements and sonic landscapes in Stardust We Are are nothing short of spectacular. I've noticed that too many cd's get 5 stars here, but this is one that really deserves it. Let me put it this way: To all my music-interested friends I've introduced this music to, FK has become their favourite band and Stardust We Are their favourite album. That pretty much says it all. I you love listening to music, and don't have this album, get it now! (Then continue with "Retropolis", "Back in the world of adventures" and "The Flower King".)
Lets Face it stardust we are is no easy album to listen to it is long and filled to bursting with music it is challenging musically with lots of different time sigs and melodies and layers and polyrythms and allsorts making it challenging but extremely fun too. There is a great focus on songs like in the eyes of the world and the epic star dust we are, Church of your heart and others and these are interspersed with short pieces some would say filler but I think they are maybe to give everyone a break from the more complex pieces and also yes to fill in the gaps but alot of the short pieces work as good transition pieces there are a few tracks that are not so good but I personally like the long albums. As they all link together and earlier in the album you can hear musical motifs from the main epic song develop before we get to the song too. I am not sure what the lyrics are about but I just like to sing them anyway. There is plenty of different keyboard sounds used and lots of variety throughout the whole album. And the bass playing is really good along with the guitar and drums too. Surprisingly there is a healthy amount of weird little percussion instruments too just to give it some extra condiments. All in all a pretty special album but don't expect to listen to this all the way through unless you got at least three hours spare, which is really the only problem
If you want to hear some music in the year 2010 that is excellently produced and played yet has the uplifting quality, passion and precision of early Yes and Genesis combined, then this is for you. Start at the end with the epic 'Stardust We Are' and you'll be captivated within a flow leading to a crescendo reminiscent of the height of Genesis' creativity: 'Supper's Ready'. Lie back and enjoy...
Stardust We Are is one of the Flower Kings finest recordings. What is remarkable is that there is no fluff in this double disc recording. The musicianship is unrivaled by contemporary prog bands. Roine Stolt is by far the most remarkable guitarist in modern prog. Tomas Bodin, on keyboards, is every bit his equal. The rhythm section of Michael Stolt(bass) and Jaime Salazar(drums) is remarkably tight. Salazar is not unlike Bill Bruford in that he draws from obvious jazz leanings to create a remarkable rhythmic base. Brilliant band, brilliant compositions and arrangements. Highly recommended...Simon