It would be hard to imagine a more aptly titled CD than this. It's certainly a circus, an extravaganza complete with fanfares, applause, wacky sound effects, and a parade of music plus voices spoken or declaimed in brief interjections. As for the flying food part, ringleader Hasse Bruniusson (acoustic and digital drums, percussion) and his fellow Swedish conspirators Roine Stolt (guitar, bass) and Mats Öberg (keyboards) plus guests threw a musical smorgasbord against the wall, and thankfully, nearly everything they cooked up and flung through the air stayed put upon impact, meaning that Flying Food Circus is indeed a worthwhile buffet with hardly anything that, after tasting, would remain on your plate uneaten. But enough with the music-as-food metaphors for the time being, even if Flower Kings/Samla Mammas Manna percussionist Bruniusson himself is the one who opened that particular pantry door. "An Instrument for a Good Dressage" kicks things off with the entertainers announcing their presence and the digital crowd roaring its approval as the band trots out circusy themes. The sound opens up into a spacious jam a third of the way into the five-plus-minute track, with Öberg's piano runs moving into exploratory jazz territory, and then Flowers king Stolt's Zappa-esque guitar joins the keyboard to harmonize on a melody line that Frank himself might admire. The seven-minute "Erfarenheit von Panopticon" blows the disc wide open with a multi-sectioned jazz-rock jam initiated with spoken and whispered vocals ("Is this what you wanted? Future shock? What does it mean? Corruption? Scandal? Thank you! Deception? What does it mean? Expand your mind...alone.") and propelling past funk-jazz marimba-guitar unison lines over shifting meters; there are stop-on-a-dime moments, punched-up percussives, alien keyboard voicings, and a brief killer Bruniusson marimba solo, all ending with a shouted "Trust no one!," concluding the piece where it started, with a large whiff of paranoia.
Stolt brings his shredding abilities to the fore on "Collect Relapses" before the mood is somewhat ruined by somebody's no doubt ironically intended yowl of "rock and roll!" introduces a series of marimba arpeggio-driven sections recalling the best of Pierre Moerlen's Gong; a bit of a Samlas tune enters the mix followed by some indeed pure rock & roll (arriving late) and vertiginous space effects in free time before coalescing abruptly back in the circus funhouse. Bosse Hulphers' accordion and Johan Lund Andersson's clarinet give an evocative L'Ensemble Rayé flavor to "Le Tambour de Ville," while the sprightly "Sleighride to Ettal" is announced with "And now everybody, ready for a polka," in a voice suggesting additional irony for a hipster audience that would never listen to a polka straight. In Bruniusson's oddball world, the Man with No Name becomes "The Man Without Qualities" in a Morricone-flavored spaghetti Western mini-epic, riding into town accompanied by the requisite twangy guitar, but before this nine-minute adventure is over, the Man has apparently indeed lost all sense of Self, if the floating sitar (courtesy of Håkan Almkvist) and squonky squelchy space jazz interludes are any indication. Penultimate track "A Clown's Opinion" is truly anthemic, nearly suggesting a cheesy sports anthem before, in an echo of the disc's first track, moving into beautiful electric jazz-rock with a flexibly loosening and tightening tempo and Öberg's synth not too far from an electric Zawinul-style shimmer at times. After more disorienting vocal declamations the track segues into the closing "A Belated Prologue," apparently coming full circle and touching upon, of all things, Handel's "Hallelujah Chorus" with an American gospel-style rave-up at the finale. If you're feeling overstuffed by now, try an antacid (in more than one sense of the word) -- but this food won't spoil, and there is plenty here to justify return visits in case you missed anything with the first helping.