The Flower Kings is a band that really helped carry the torch in the 90’s that bands like Yes lit during the 60’s and 70’s, taking that style of Progressive Rock to a new level and continuing to help it grow. So it’s quite a treat to hear a collaboration between the leader of The Flower Kings, Roine Stolt, and the former lead vocalist of Yes, Jon Anderson. If you’ve ever wondered what a new Flower Kings album with the vocalist from Yes would sound like, Invention of Knowledge is it, as Anderson/Stolt make a perfect combination! As much as each member’s own projects shine through, it certainly stands on its own as something new.
The two worked together by sending each other demos via the internet. A lot of input was contributed by Anderson, including all of his vocal melodies. Anderson is the sole lead vocalist on the album, with additional backing vocals by Stolt, Nad Sylvan, Daniel Gildenlow, Anja Obermayer, Maria Rerych, and Kristina Westas. Stolt handled all of the guitar parts and the other instruments were recorded by The Flower Kings duo of Jonas Reingold on bass and Felix Lehrmann on drums, and Tom Brislin of Yes Symphonic handled the keyboards.
The album is made up of four long songs: ‘Invention Of Knowledge’, ‘Knowing’, ‘Everybody Heals’, and ‘Know…’ split into 9 tracks on the CD. According to Stolt, the musical style reflects the attitude in the 70’s when artists didn’t allow their creativity to be confined to a linear dimension.
The first song ‘Invention Of Knowledge’ begins with part I ‘Invention.’ Some soft guitars and ambient ocean sounds play while Anderson’s vocals fade in and build up to the chorus. The layers of instruments beautifully complement Anderson’s vocals and the backing vocals add an extra depth. Stolt’s signature guitar sound is very present and his solos are top notch. The song sounds very bright and uplifting. Part II ‘We Are Truth’ brings some acoustic guitar to the front giving the music some room to breathe. The song then builds up again as the keyboard and guitars grow, becoming more grandiose as we lead into the third part ‘Knowledge.’ This part begins by bringing back the chorus from part I, with even more layers this time. The backing vocals sound like a full choir. The song then gets softer with the verse from part II repeating and then fading out into a soft and atmospheric guitar/keyboard section with the ocean sounds from the beginning returning to end off the song.
‘Knowing’ begins with some ambient sounds and vocals and slowly builds up to some melodic keyboard and guitar as the song picks up. The second repeat of the chorus features a trumpet that makes it sound more triumphant. Anderson’s vocals are great throughout and really blend well with the instruments. The end of part I slows down a bit before fading into part II ‘Chase and Harmony’ with a very “Flower Kings” sounding melody. A solitary piano melody begins part II, which is a bit softer than the previous part. There are lots of little flourishes of the keyboard and guitar that make this track require multiple listens to fully appreciate. The end of the song picks up as some epic guitar solos lead into some soft ambient keyboard sounds bringing this two-part epic to a close.
The next three-part song, ‘Everybody Heals’ begins with a fade in on an orchestral melody which is joined by the full band before Stolt’s guitar and Anderson’s vocals take the lead. The backing vocals around the 4 minute mark trade off with Anderson’s vocals wonderfully and create a nice groove. The end of part I has a nice guitar, piano, and bass jam that ends abruptly as part II ‘Better By Far’ starts with a soft piano melody with some expressive percussion. This is the shortest track on the album at just 2:03 long, and transitions into part III ‘Golden Light’ with some intense keyboard melodies before a soft piano ends the third epic of the album.
The last track, ‘ Know…’ starts out pretty mellow, giving Anderson some room to shine. This song repeats some melodies and lyrics from ‘Knowing’ as it comes full circle. The second half the of song builds up as the keyboard and guitar weave some magical melodies that create a grand ending to this impressive album.
Invention of Knowledge is a wonderful album that showcases the talent of two legends, coming together for the first time and merging two significant eras of Progressive Rock. The influence by both Stolt and Anderson’s previous works are apparent, but the blending of them is perfect. The vinyl edition of this album is something I’ll be proud to place next to my classic Yes albums.
A press copy of the album was used for this review.
Invention of Knowledge (22:52)
1. Pt I. Invention (09:41)
2. Pt II. We Are Truth (06:41)
3. Pt III. Knowledge (06:30)
4. Pt I. Knowing (10:31)
5. Pt II. Chase and Harmony (07:17)
Everybody Heals (13:09)
6. Pt I. Everybody Heals (07:36)
7. Pt II. Better by Far (02:03)
8.Pt III. Golden Light (03:30)
9. Know… (11:13)
Total running time: 65:04
File type listened to: MP3
Bit rate: 319 kbps CBR
Sampling frequency: 44,100 Hz, 2 channels