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(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