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Tomas Bodin - I AM CD (album) cover

I AM

Tomas Bodin

 

Symphonic Prog

3.75 | 105 ratings

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Epignosis
Special Collaborator
Eclectic Prog Team
2 stars I am...pleased that I acquired this tripartite exercise in excess for mere sum of two dollars and ninety-seven cents. Tomas Bodin is one of my favorite keyboardists, and this album is excellent in terms of execution and performance. Myriad solos fill up these expansive three tracks, but Bodin is gentlemanly enough to not dominate the spotlight. While the keyboard work is far flashier, the lead guitar is generally more interesting. Where the album fails is in the departments of composition and vocals. As the parenthetical titles may indicate, these three tracks are not composed of musically flowing related ideas, but are seemingly assembled piecemeal from both good and bad ideas. Epic track lengths may impress some progressive rock fans, but I am not fooled- without proper transitions, a twenty minute piece serves an album better as five more credible four-minute opuses. Nevertheless, even that is not this albums most atrocious flaw- that shame is borne by Anders Jannson. No joke- the lead vocals spoil whatever is good about this album. That said, fans of The Flower Kings will likely find quite a bit to love.

"I" Instead of maneuvering directly into flashy keyboard aerobics, Bodin allows the beginning of the album to breathe, using light percussion and one of the stronger vocal moments of the entire project. Predictably, however, Bodin unleashes a synthesizer solo two minutes in over a straightforward rock beat, but takes a break to allow for some excellent blues-rock guitar interpretations. The sudden church organ and subsequent piano both introduce new sections without respect for any manner of transition. When the vocalist returns, his painful voice is no longer shrouded in effects, and his Hasse Froberg imitation is almost painful. The feminine vocals are certainly pleasant comparatively speaking, but they are very soft in the mix. But this guy's grungy shrieking is absolutely dreadful- why Bodin enlisted this individual to sing at all on his ambitious project is beyond me. Halfway through, and again without transition, a giddy little segue interrupts the flow, completely with that awful dentist's drill synthesizer tone. When that's done, it just quits and an organ picks up. Toward the end, there's a segment that's a jumbled mess of loud noises and drums. Perhaps invoking Yes's "The Gates of Delirium," the music becomes suddenly quiet, and an ethereal, peaceful piano and airy feminine vocals rise up, much in the vein of "Soon."

"A" An unrelated piano bit introduces the second track, but the initial verses occur over heavy guitar riffs. Following the hard rock music, the piece shifts into something akin to the jazzy meanderings of The Flower Kings, and the vocalist has a deep voice that sounds a wee bit similar to Roine Stolt's. The bass is by far the most intriguing constituent of this rather lengthy passage (and with Jonas Reingold in this role, what else can one expect?); the keyboards are light and enjoyable, but don't hold my attention nearly as much as the rhythm section. After quiet piano music and some rather competent vocals, the music morphs into a bluesy cuisine, with an appropriate bass line and organ holding it down while crunchy guitar handles the lead. The shrieking and other high-pitched vocalizing sounds artificial and downright annoying. Again, with nary a transition, the piece becomes hard-rocking, and then noisy before a quiet conclusion containing a subdued, backmasked voice.

"M" Melancholic but trite lyrics begin the third and final piece. The whiny vocals grating out this dreary beginning are an absolute pain to hear. When the pseudo-emotional first four minutes have expired, the music adopts its rock visage. In many respects this passage sounds like a harder-hitting version of Bodin's main band. The final composition is the least interesting- it drags on as the vocalist drags it down. That long sustaining note at the end is one of the silliest things, and the piece is cut off without any proper sense of finality.

Epignosis | 2/5 |

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