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Bodin, Tomas: I Am

Two years in the making, I Am is Flower Kings keyboardist Tomas Bodin's first ever solo album that actually features three different vocalists, an intelligently written concept and top-notch musicianship. Bodin's previous albums were instrumental recordings mostly focusing on his keyboard and piano expertise, reflecting his progressive roots and compositional skills. I Am takes Bodin's talents to greater heights. It is the first album of a trilogy that takes its story directly from Bodin's own life with themes of religion and reincarnation. The second and third parts of this trilogy will be titled You Are and He She Is respectively.

The fact that Bodin's wife, Pernilla Bodin, is one of the three vocalists who lend their voices to this recording perhaps makes I Am even more intimate for Tomas. The other singers are Anders Jansson and Helene Schoning. Bodin's Flower Kings bandmates Jonas Reingold on bass and new drummer Marcus Liliequist, on the other, form the album's solid rhythm section. Liliequist's style isn't as busy as Zoltan Csorsz', but equally impressive. I particularly enjoy his awesome cymbal work that often lends itself to jazz rock territory. Reingold on bass is as amazing as always. The bass is very upfront on this album, almost like a lead instrument alongside Bodin's keyboards. On guitars there is Jocke JJ Marsh from Glenn Hughes. Marsh's guitar work is very subtle in places, but extremely competent and one of the main factors why I Am is quite possiby Bodin's best solo effort to date. Besides playing excellent pristine prog guitar harmonies, he also lays down well-crafted blues solos that add an extra dimension to the songs.

Vocalist Anders Jansson does most of the singing on this album, with occasional leads sung by Pernilla Bodin and Helene Schonning, whose angelic singing styles bring a welcome depth to this little progressive 'musical'. Having never heard Jansson before, I was awestruck by the richness of his voice, his heartfelt singing and translating the lyrics into pure emotion effectively. Since I Am consists of only three tracks that are divided into several chapters each of which are comprised of different movements, Jansson's emotive voice conveys a wide array of emotions going from vintage 70's prog rock style singing to more upbeat sing-along type of vocals. However, the vocal delivery on the last suite titled "M" is his most heart-wrenching one. Jansson almost cries the lyrics out in such an emotional way I get goosebumps every time. This song also contains some processed, almost extreme kind of vocals soaring passionately over Bodin's sweeping piano melody. It has a very musical feel to it, often reminding me of Pink Floyd, even though both bands' song structures are quite different.

Tomas Bodin has proven to be an exceptional producer and lyricst as well. "The Prayer" passage in "A" is particularly amazing when Jansson whispers the lyrics to God over sparse piano keys. The lyrical content here is akin to that of Neal Morse's One album. Oddly, Pain of Salvation's BE also comes to mind when the whole concept of I Am is taken into consideration, not to include Bodin's obvious influences. The opening track, besides visiting Bodin's ELP and Yes roots, also has a subtle Flower Kings circa Unfold the Future period touch, only with more emphasis put on keys than guitars. Bombastic keyboards abound the entire album never even for a second dominating the other instruments. Bodin is unafraid to implement complex passages and merge them with visceral guitars and musicality. Essential release for any prog rock fan.

Track Listing

  1. I (23:12)
    i. The Beginning
    ii. Wheel Spinner
    iii. Day by Day
    iv. Mother's Heart
    v. Speeder
    vi. They'll Fight for Me!
    vii. Fighters
    viii. War is Over
    ix. Aftermath
    x. The Angel of Dreams
    xi. The Awakening

  2. A (21:28)
    i. Take Me Home
    ii. The Tree of Knowledge
    iii. The Path of Decision I
    iv. The Prayer
    v. The Path of Decision II
    vi. Close the Deal
    vii. The Path of Decision III
    viii. The Tube of Reverse

  3. M (18:43)
    i. In the Land of Retrospect
    ii. Voice Macabre
    iii. Dance Macabre
    iv. The Halls of Future
    v. The Path of Light I
    vi. The Path of Light II

Added: July 6th 2005
Reviewer: Murat Batmaz
Score:
Related Link: Tomas Bodin
Hits: 7030
Language: english

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» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

Bodin, Tomas: I Am
Posted by Pete Pardo, SoT Staff Writer on 2005-07-05 20:34:27
My Score:

Tomas Bodin's I AM, the first in a proposed trilogy, is a concept piece that The Flower Kings keyboard ace has been kicking around in his mind for many years. Deciding to go the route of a prog-rock opera rather than a rambling instrumental tour-de-force, Bodin and his stellar cast of musicians turn I AM into a symphonic gem of an album, with Bodin leading the way with some intelligent and virtuoso keyboard work. With three vocalists in tow, including Anders Jansson, Helene Schonning, and his wife Pernilla Bodin, the music here might remind the listener of a more traditional prog variation of some of the Ayreon albums, with a little Flower Kings twist of course. Glenn Hughes guitar player Jocke JJ Marsh adds some ripping axe work, and Flower Kings bandmates Jonas Reingold and Marcus Liliequist add their solid bass and drum work to the entire album.

This is a real band effort, although Bodin's keyboard work is as impressive as a young Rick Wakeman. Tomas is finally ready to step out from the shadow of his main band and be recognized not only for his keyboard prowess, but also for his songwriting and arranging skills. Highly recommended!


» Reader Comments:

Bodin, Tomas: I Am
Posted by Jerry W.Wiseman on 2005-07-13 22:03:32
My Score:

"I AM" BY TOMAS BODIN
BEFORE I BEGIN MY REVIEW I NEED TO SAY THAT MR. BODIN SHARED A RECENT REVIEW WITH ME. A "DEATH METAL" SITE HAD REVIEWED THIS ALBUM AND GAVE IT ONLY A 2 STAR RATING. I FEEL THAT THIS RATING MIGHT BE A BIT HIGH SINCE "I AM" COMES NO WHERE NEAR BEING A METAL ALBUM. I WOULD HOPE IT WOULD GET A SLIGHTLY LOWER RATING IF REVIEWED ON A "HIP-HOP" SITE.
AFTER 6 WEEKS OF ALMOST DAILY(SOMETIMES MORE THAN ONCE A DAY) I FEEL I AM READY TO GIVE MY OPINION
I NOT ONLY AM GIVING IT A RATING OF 10 OUT 0F A POSSIBLE 10, BUT HAVE PUT IT INTO MY PERSONAL TOP 20 ALL TIME FAVORITES. IT IS LIKE NO OTHER TOMAS BODIN ALBUM. IT IS BEING CALLED A PROG OR ROCK OPERA. I SEE IT AS A 3 ACT MUSICAL PLAY. TOMAS HAS GONE BACK TO HIS DAYS OF WRITING FOR THEATER. HIS ADDITION OF LYRICS CAME AS A GREAT SURPRISE. MUSICALLY IT SURPASSES ALMOST ANYTHING ELSE I'VE EVER HEARD. THE ENTIRE PIECE IS FILLED WITH SO MANY KEYBOARD TREASURES THAT CAN ONLY BE TRULY APPRECIATED AFTER SEVERAL LISTENS. MR BODIN'S PIANO WORK FOR ME IS VERY REMINISCENT OF GEORGE GERSHWIN. THE ONLY OTHER KEYBOARDIST WHO HAS EVER ATTEMPTED GERSHWIN'S PLAYING STYLE IS RICK WAKEMAN. AND TOMAS WASN'T EVEN AWARE HE WAS DOING IT.
THOUGH THE KEYS ARE VERY PROMINENT MR. BODIN ALLOWS EACH MUSICIAN TO EXCEL AND SHINE ON THEIR OWN. JONAS REINGOLD IS BRILLIANT AS ALWAYS AS IS JJ MARCH WHO DURING THE "M" PART SOUNDS VERY CLOSE TO GEORGE HARRISON. ANY QUESTIONS I HAD ABOUT MARCUS LILIEQUIST WERE ANSWERED BEFORE SEEING THE FLOWER KINGS LIVE AFTER HEARING HIS WORK ON THIS ALBUM. A VERY SPECIAL SURPRISE IS THE VOCAL WORK OF ANDERS JANSSON. NO ONLY HIS VOCAL, BUT HIS EMOTIONAL RANGE IS UNBELIEVABLE. AND A SPECIAL NOD TO THE LADIES, PERNILLA BODIN AND HELENE SCHONNING. THEIR PARTS ARE SMALLER THAT ANDERS, BUT VITAL TO THE TELLING OF THE STORY.
LASTLY, I WOULD LIKE TO THANK MR. BODIN AGAIN FOR SHARING HIS GIFTS WITH US, BUT ALSO ALLOWING US TO SEE A PART OF HIS LIFE, THOUGH VERY ROUGH AT TIME HE HAS COME THROUGH IT WITH GREAT DIGNITY,GRACE AND HUMILITY. NOW I HAVE TO PREPARE MYSELF FOR THE NEXT 2 PARTS OF THIS TRILOGY.
PEACE,
JERRY


Bodin, Tomas: I Am
Posted by Marion Anderson on 2005-06-28 14:43:23
My Score:

Tomas Bodin needs no introduction to those within the progressive rock world, but it's about time the rest of the world knew him too. His newest solo album entitled "I Am" should take care of that. "I Am" is one heck of an aural masterpiece that should go down in progressive rock history as one of the finest concept albums ever made. Don't let the "c" word fool you either, there's no rambling, incoherent monologues only relevent to the artist here. This is an album you can sink your teeth, ears AND mind into and recieve a sonic reward that will leave you tingling. Vastly different than the Flower Kings and his previous solo albums, "I Am" is Bodin on a plane most artists view from several miles below. Buy it...and listen.


Marion Anderson




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