The FLOWER KINGS: Paradox Hotel Double CD. Great prog rock. Check audio (whole album, album songs)

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Tracklist:
Room 111 (disc One):
1. Check In (Bodin) 1:37
2. Monsters & Men (Stolt) 21:21
3. Jealousy (Stolt) 3:22
4. Hit Me With A Hit (Stolt) 5:32
5. Pioneers Of Aviation (Stolt) 7:49
6. Lucy Had A Dream (Bodin/Stolt) 5:28
7. Bavarian Skies (Bodin/Stolt) 6:34
8. Selfconsuming Fire (Stolt) 5:49
9. Mommy Leave The Light On (Stolt) 4:38
10. End On A High Note (Stolt) 10:43

Room 222 (disc Two):
1. Minor Giant Steps (Stolt) 12:12
2. Touch My Heaven (Bodin) 6:08
3. The Unorthodox Dancinglesson (Stolt) 5:24
4. Man Of The World ( Reingold/Stolt/Bodin) 5:55
5. Life Will Kill You (Froberg) 7:03
6. The Way The Waters Are Moving (Bodin/Stolt) 3:12
7. What If God Is Alone (Reingold/Stolt/Froberg) 6:58
8. Paradox Hotel (Stolt/Bodin) 6:29
9. Blue Planet (Stolt) 9:42

Musicians:
Roine Stolt: guitars, vocal
Tomas Bodin: keyboards, backing vocal
Hans Froberg: vocal, guitar
Jonas Reingold: Bass, acoustic guitar, vocal
Marcus Liliequist: drums, percussion, backing vocal
Hasse Bruniusson: Marimba & assorted percussion

all songs:

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5.0 out of 5 stars The Flower Kings – simply awesome,
Well, the Flower Kings have been my favorite band for about 7 years now, yet I’ve never felt that they produced a solid 5-star cd. They’ve successfully integrated 70’s-style prog along with the occasional jazz fusion sequence, original and interesting compositions and arrangements, catchy refrains – and it’s all done with some of the best musicians in all of rock. “”Paradox Hotel”” showcases their talents like no other cd before it….and it undoubtedly deserves 5 stars!

This is perhaps their most Yessy-sounding cd; and with harmonies and lyrics that frequently intone “”heaven””, “”God”” and even the word “”roundabout””, the Yes comparisons are hard to ignore. (See “”Hit Me With a Hit””, “”Minor Giant Steps”” and “”Man of the World”” in particular.) Not as much of the ELP or Crimson sound this time around. In fact, if anything there’s a little more “”pop”” bent to this cd.

This is just a very even album for them, with more songs in the shorter range (that is, 5 or 6 minutes!), and they just flow together and transition effortlessly. The introspective and compassionate lyrics continue to augment the great melodies. Every song is unique and well-crafted. I echo everyone else: “”How do they do it year after year?””

Perhaps what struck me most on this cd is how much they sound like a BAND – not just a bunch of virtuosos from Sweden pieced together to play Stolt’s music. And virtuosos they are! Jonas Reingold is still my favorite bass player these days, alternating between thick Rickenbacker and gentle fretless bass. Tomas Bodin showcases the grand piano much more on this album, but there’s also plenty of organ, mellotron, and other assorted synths and sound effects. He is GREAT on this cd, and (again) probably my favorite keyboard player since Tony Banks. And Roine Stolt is simply incomparable: inventive solos and riffs, clever modulations, and sweet sounding slides – check out his slide guitar on the 21-minute album opener “”Monsters and Men””. Sublime. Roine Stolt is a musical genius, and clearly in a class by himself.

New drummer Marcus Lilliequist is excellent as well; perhaps not quite as jazzy as Zoltan Czorsz, but he nimbly leads the group through the 4-3-4-2 time changes on “”Unorthodox Dancing Lesson””. And Hasse Froberg is in great voice on this cd, writes one excellent song himself, and fills in with lots of acoustic strumming.

The album begins and ends with some mission control sound clips from around 1970 – still not sure what that is all about. And you can still hear the mischievous Norwegian gnome laughing in various spots throughout the album (a TFK staple). The only thing I kind of miss is the sax playing that Ulf Wallander used to do on the earlier TFK cds. But other than that, this is pure prog heaven courtesy of the Flower Kings.

HIGHLY, Highly, highly recommended.
Paradox Hotel: check in….and check it out.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The penny drops,
This is about my seventh Flower Kings purchase, and it has followed the typical pattern of initial disappointment that it’s ‘not like the last one’ , and then some five to twenty plays before the penny suddenly drops, and I realise that this is their best yet. The penny dropped tonight for the Paradox Hotel. With the possible exception of the spooky and uncomfortable ‘Bavarian Skies’ every track is a cracker.

As someone who dabbles with writing orchestral music, it is my judgement that, with Zappa’s passing, these guys are now producing some of the most compositionally sophisticated music outside of the formal classical world. The music ceaselessly modulates, never getting stuck for long in any one key or meter, and sometimes we get some whacky tonal juxtapositions, so you’re not sure where it’s gonna go. And then there’s Roine Stolt’s guitar. The extraordinary thing about him is that he doesn’t have a style or sound; he has about 72 styles or sounds of which he might use 25 in rapid succession on a given track to create a kaleidoscopic symphonic effect. Can’t think of anyone else I can say that about. As ever, the lyrics are for the most part very positive and hopeful, and there’s all too little of that in the world. Departures from this are usually to explore very dark corners of the human psyche. As usual there is the occasional wince factor with the lyrics, though happily less than on some releases. I have learned to forgive them for these because the shear quality of the music makes them irrelevant. I put these moments down to their being Swedish and, while like most continentals they speak better English than most English folks, what for them might sound poetically surreal sometimes just sounds downright odd to us.

Fantastic album.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Quite simply stunning!,
On this new 2 disc offering ‘Paradox Hotel’ we see flower kings stripped down and back to basics, which I believe is when flower kings at their best. Gone is Daniel Gildenlow, who whilst being ultra talented, I thought was just one vocalist too many on Adam and Eve. The embodiment of this group is Roine Stolt and I thought he took too much of a back seat on their previous effort.

Here on Paradox Hotel we have Roine back in full flow on vocals, with Hasse Froberg, producing their finest piece of work since Stardust We Are; this is a bold statement because in my opinion SWA is one of the finest pieces of music produced across any genre of music.

As with all Flower Kings albums, especially the double disc releases, Paradox Hotel doesn’t hit you straight away because there is just so much music to sink your teeth into. I believe it takes a good 4 or 5 listens to each disc before you really begin to appreciate just how special Paradox Hotel is.

There are just too many tracks here to describe them all individually, but I can say there is a broad spectrum of musical styles to enjoy. As with all openers to an album by flower kings you can expect a lengthy really progressive tune, Monsters and Men is no exception, it’s an absolute spine tingling beauty of a piece. Jealousy is a quiet piano duet with Roine’s vocals that again makes the hair on the back of my neck stand.  Roine Stolt gives his best vocal performance to date. Bavarian Skies which some people may find too weird is a rather bizarre but poignant view of Nazi war days from the viewpoint of a reminiscing Nazi? It’s rather haunting to say the least.
There is also some great blues guitar playing, check out Touch My Heaven and Life Will Kill You which are absolutely superlative. The Way The Waters Are Moving is a touching ode to the unfortunate victims of the recent Tsunami disaster which swept across Asia a few years ago.

All in all there are no low points to this double-disc set, contrary to what you may read elsewhere. This is the quintessential Flower Kings back to their very best, creating 18 21-carat nuggets of pure aural pleasure, and I for one am a totally born again Flower Kings fanatic.

Roine Stolt is the greatest and most prolific songwriting talent out there today and anyone that misses out on this epic is missing out on yet another masterpiece!

Check out the Instant Delivery double-disc dvd set, live in Tillburg, which is over 3 hours of Flower Kings performing so many classics it really is unbelievable! Whilst Meet the Flower Kings live felt more like a live studio effort, Instant Delivery has much more freedom to it with some great audience participation and the chance to see new boy Marcus Lillequist performing superbly on drums.


Spotlight Conclusion

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To me, the question remains, what exactly is the paradox of this hotel we call earth?  Is it the contrasting ideals of mankind, which are often incompatible?  Is it merely the juxtaposition of opposites?  Is it the contrast of valuing the individual seeking to “free the inner mind” weighted against the vast scale of cosmic significance?  It could be the cohabitation of the hotel by both Monsters and Men – heroes and villains, spiritual leaders and spiritual oppressors, those who are capable of compassion and those who aren’t.  If we’re truly honest with ourselves, rather than seeing all of humanity in such binary light (a concept this album really seeks to challenge), we’d be willing to recognize that much of the paradox exists within our own hearts: in so many ways, we are each torn between our desire to love and be loved and our own closet demons — the selfishness that somehow coexists with all of our good intentions to be selfless.  Furthermore, in evaluating the key figures filling the guestbook, it becomes more and more apparent that even the monsters we can’t truly live without: jealousy is intrinsic to love, just as greed is intrinsic to progress.  Capturing and transforming all elements of human emotion and experience is in itself a paradox of existence, combining the yin and the yang, harnessing the id and the ego in order to right what is wrong and advance toward what is ultimately to be desired.

To take one further step backward, Paradox Hotel itself is paradoxical for its simultaneously critical yet optimistic view of humanity.  It’s inspiring because it sees the potential for human greatness despite all the wrong that has persisted throughout history.  It takes into account that there is something broken about us, and yet posits that there is a way forward to the healing of the “sacred heart” of mankind.  These broad brushstrokes are a good foundation for those who stand for social justice, for preserving our world, for encouraging love over hatred.  The challenge of implementing change, of course, is in the details – in the inspiration of individuals and nations to take their part.

Paradox Hotel, therefore, works within the framework of viewing the earth, and human existence itself, as a permanent yet temporary state – life being an overnight stay in a rented room that other generations will inhabit after we’re long gone.  Bookended by tracks that focus on taking a step outside of the world we live in, the album points to the fact that the only way to view our rented space properly is to appreciate it on both an individual and a cosmic level.  The world is, in fact, a place we pay to visit (with our very lives), but it isn’t really a permanent residence, and so it should be our responsibility to do our part to preserve and prepare it for future generations.  That begins with the internal “Minor Giant Steps” and spreads outward into our spheres of influence and beyond.

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