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The Future Kings Of England - 2005 - "The Future Kings of England"

(55 min, Back Water)


*****+
                 
TRACK LIST:                             

1.  At Long Last 0:59
2.  10:66 7:46
3.  Humber Doucy Lane 8:56
4.  Silent & Invisible Converts 7:30
5.  October Moth 3:48
6.  Lilly Lockwood 8:19
7.  The March of the Mad Clowns 3:35
8.  Pigwhistle 14:00
9.  God Save the King 0:48

All tracks: by The Future Kings Of England.
Produced by Mann.

LINEUP:

Ian Fitch - guitars; xylophone
Karl Mallet - bass; effects
Simon Green - drums, percussion
With:
Steven Mann - keyboards

Prolusion. The booklet of this CD contains little information on the band's history. There is only the mention that the eponymous album by THE FUTURE KINGS OF ENGLAND is their debut outing, the very brief description of the music, and the assertion that the album will undoubtedly become an underground classic.

Analysis. While the aforementioned assertion is too brave, if not too opinionated, most, if not all, of those considering Space Rock and related directions might agree with it after giving a few thorough listens to the album. There are no pyrotechnics in the musicianship department, but the emphasis is laid on the composition, the arrangement and the performance, which is always of a greater (rather greatest) importance. In most cases, the band managed to create an amazingly eclectic atmosphere, full of mystery and hidden treasures. The album begins and ends with brief pieces of a spacey-narrative character: At Long Last and God Save the King, while the principal events unfold on the other seven compositions, all being instrumental. Well, the second track, 10:66, features a thematic narration too, but it's also quite short. In a clear Russian, one odious person tells of the beauties of English seashores with the yearning of a man, who might be deported from the UK. The man also plays a violin here, bringing a certain chamber feel to the music, which, overall, is a blend of Pink Floyd-inspired symphonic Space Rock and a highly original Space Metal with rather dark Doom Metal-like overtones. (The principal providers of symphonic colors on most of the other tracks are the sounds of mellotron, keyboards being handled by the disc's producer, Steve Mann.) Then follows Humber Doucy Lane, the last track that the traces of the band's benefactor can with ease be found on and the one featuring passages of acoustic guitar interwoven with dense electric textures. Along with the two shorter songs, October Moth and The March of the Mad Clowns, this is one of the relatively accessible compositions. No real heaviness and eclecticism either on each of these, and while the music is pretty exciting, it is less intense and dramatic than the other full-fledged tracks. I mean that if the arrangements here were less fixed, I would enjoy them more, though it's the matter of taste. After all, there is plenty of mesmerizing energy, which, though, is typical for the entire thing. Silent & Invisible Converts is musically close to 10:66, but is by all means unique, from the first note to the last. The remaining two compositions, Lilly Lockwood and Pigwhistle, are also monumental. They find the band exploring the third direction to be ever found on the album. There are the 'mellotron'-laden symphonic arrangements on each, but for the most part, the music is characterized by the moods that I would call philosophically otherworldly. The contents are highly eclectic, evoking distinct associations with Pink Floyd's first truly deep Space Rock experiments, such as those on the epic title track of "A Saucerful of Secrets", although this band's starship is taken mainly on their own fuel.

Conclusion. While not of an extreme complexity, this nut is too hard to crack upon its first spin, which always implies a high-quality material, inevitably arousing the desire to get back to it again and again. All in all, the album is very good. Recommended, though you should have a broader horizon than an average Pink Floyd fan to be ready for this adventure.

VM: July 2, 2005



The Future Kings Of England - 2005 - "The Future Kings of England"

****

Prolusion. This is the eponymous debut release by The Future Kings Of England. The three musicians, who comprise The Future Kings Of England, have also recorded with Kris Hackett as Carpet Ride.

Analysis. "The Future Kings of England" opens with an Intro, using a recording of the 1936 abdication speech of King Edward VIII of England (greatly abbreviated). Edward is accompanied by guitar played in the finger picking style, which creates a very quaint introduction to an album that is anything but quaint. The album is spacey Psychedelic-Punk-Space-Rock, tinged with a bit of Kraut-Rock. These are textural soundscapes with guitar and drums figuring most prominently, though Sir Steven Mann also adds keyboard work, such as the richness of mellotron on Humber Doucy Lane. There are bits of xylophone creeping in from the edges at times, too. The instrumentation is almost hypnotically repetitious, at lease I think this is what the band intended. If you chose to listen, prepare to be hypnotized or the repetition will drive you stark raving mad. Non-musical textures include some Slavic narration on 10:66, playground sounds, some distant announcement that might be from a bus or train station speaker system (completely unintelligible), wind and various ambient tape loops. Ironically, Silent & Invisible Converts has the most raucous start of any song on the album, sounding very raw and punkish. Lilly Lockwood opens with the slow strumming of chords with a strong dose of reverb and echoing space ghost noises in the background. It then degenerates into a dreadful cacophony before resolving into repetitious guitar plunking, with drums thumping along. True to its name, The March of the Mad Clowns is set to a marching beat. It is the one track with a prominent melody, an eerie one befitting the subject. There is much phase shifting throughout this track, with the marching drum sounding great. At times it almost sounds as if mandolin is swirling along with the keyboard and vocal chorus (sampled or mellotron). Pigwhistle clocks in as the longest track. At about 9 minutes into the droning of sound, comes some very nice acoustic guitar work, or it would be if they had tuned all strings on the guitar. The sound is sparse for just a little while, before the xylophone, drums, bass and electric guitar begin, with the sound growing thicker until the end when drums and cymbals crescendo to the climaxed end; the keys fade out. The Outro is again more tonal than melodic, with the instruments filling the air, which swirls around the last words of King Edward, as he concludes his speech and this CD with "God save the King!"

Conclusion. This is spacey, atmospheric music that defies the listener to find a melody beyond the connection of changing chords and chord structures. It requires entirely too much patience or indulgence from the listener. This is not for the Symphonic Prog listener, as there are no elements whatsoever of that style. It is Psychedelic-Punk-Drone-pseudo-Kraut-Rock music. The whole affair is entirely too long for anyone who believes music should go somewhere, should take the listener on a journey. Tape loops and ambient effects are no substitute for melody lines. It's all smoke and mirrors. What seems clever on the first track becomes completely tedious by the end of the CD. "God Save the King!"

KW: July 3, 2005


Related Links:

The Future Kings Of England
Back Water Records


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