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Music Review: The Future Kings Of England – The Viewing Point

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The cover shows a man on a cliff’s edge. He is parked up, in what looks like his old Morris Minor car, looking out over the sea. The CD is a retro speedo from the dashboard of the car built many moons ago.

The album is called The Viewing Point and is by The Future Kings Of England, a band from the county of Suffolk. The music is progressive instrumental, dramatic one moment, psychedelic the next, and even pastoral at various points in between.

The story behind this captivating album is explained inside. The Viewing Point is where this man used to bring his family. It was before they grew up, before they declared how bored they were with this Sunday afternoon family tradition, and before they moved away to have families of their own.

So he sits alone, perched on the cliff top, reminiscing, staring out to sea, looking back, looking forward, and looking troubled. At times it sounds like a Meddle era Floyd album that never was. It hooks you in and you quickly become an interested observer as this man reflects back to happier, faraway days, whilst facing up to his own uncertain future.

This is the Future Kings Of England’s third album and spectacularly follows their previous release The Fate Of Old Mother Orvis. It has excellent artwork from the band's drummer Simon Green along with photography from guitarist Ian Fitch and bass player Karl Mallett. To complete the ‘in house’ scene the production is superbly handled by the band’s keyboard player Steve Mann.

The Viewing Point takes a brave step towards the unexplored with the result being a compelling album that showcases the imagination, creativity, focus, maturity, and musicianship that The Future Kings Of England possess.

The publicity material makes the bold, but highly justified claim, that the band “features their trademark psychedelic sound and interstellar sonics” whilst also “grounding themselves in reality.” It goes on to further describe the album as “an ecstatic aural thrill.”

There is a lovely balance of retro prog, acoustic breeze, and the aforementioned ecstatic, aural thrills as the band push the boundaries out from the safety of that cliff top to the deep waters below.

At times you are left standing at the doorway of the UFO club watching Syd's Floyd in his much missed glory. This is never more the case than on the opening section of the title track where time has suddenly tripped back.

Put this heady concoction onto your iPod and you won’t want to get off at your tube stop. Instead you could joyously travel the Circle Line all day and still be enthralled by what it contains.

Meanwhile our hero is left wondering and pondering the what ifs, the what could have beens, and all the associated unanswerable questions of life, from a place that he still holds dear. Time rolls by. Dare I say, “and then one day you find, ten years have got behind you.”

However, the album explains it best in its own words. "Now it was just him, windows up, engine idling. Rain later, good.” Good indeed.

For details of the album, the band, and their previous releases please visit their MySpace page.

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About Jeff Perkins