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Tomas Bodin - Sonic Boulevard  CD (album) cover

SONIC BOULEVARD

Tomas Bodin

Symphonic Prog


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Erling.Nass@b
3 stars This is the third solo attempt from the Flower Kings keyboardist. More subtle and meditative than the predecessors, but without becoming static. I think I read somewhere that Bodin attempted to make a sort of "new-age" or "ambient" type of record with this one - well, if that was the case, I am happy to say he failed; it is a far more interesting listen than all ambient/new age records I have heard before! Sonic Boulevard is in essence an instrumental album, vocals are merely used as "instruments" in some of the cuts. The album is not as keyboard-oriented as may be expected, both guitars and soprano saxophones are allowed generous space to lead in the musical landscapes painted by bodins compositions. Bodin a very gifted composer (and musician), and it is an album I have great pleasure in listening to. Not an essential album, but definitely worth lending an ear to if you like melodic music in the veins of Flower Kings or Camel.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#25116)
Posted Thursday, November 11, 2004 | Review Permalink
Muzikman
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars "Sonic Boulevard" is Tomas BODIN's follow up to his successful second solo album "Pinup Guru". The trademark progressive-rock keyboards are evident once again but this time out jazz fusion makes a much stronger presence. At times, I felt I could have been listening to RETURN TO FOREVER or a similar group, the music is that polished and perfected.

I found this CD to be very tasteful and eclectic while maintaining a strong production value throughout. His band mates from The FLOWER KINGS, Jonas Reingold (bass) Zoltan Csörsz (drums), help his cause as well. They manage to keep the TFK references to a minimum and allow BODIN to leave his own imprint on the sound, thereby making it a true solo album, not something for fans to compare to his full time gig. The more I hear the band members of TFK play on their own and together, the more I realize how each one of them is a star in their own right. This CD is more proof of that fact.

Rating: 4.5/5

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Send comments to Muzikman (BETA) | Report this review (#25117)
Posted Monday, January 24, 2005 | Review Permalink
silvertree
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Bodin's third and best so far. As always, you find members from The Flower Kings giving a hand. The novelty in this album is that you have vocals without lyrics. The music is very symphonic and very well produced. I think the album sounds better than The Flower Kings production. Roine Stolt is back on the guitar for some solos. The instruments are more varied : you also have saxophone solos and great percussion. Overall a very enjoyable album that you'll listen to over and over again. There is so much stuff to discover.

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Send comments to silvertree (BETA) | Report this review (#25119)
Posted Saturday, April 23, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars Less quirky than his previous two solo albums could be at times, this cd is a great listen from beginning to end. Beautifully packaged with nice notes from Bodin, pleasant artwork and photos, and a cohesive feel throughout the album - almost like a concept album?

I really dig his keyboard sounds, and believe his subtle contributions to the Flower Kings songs are often what makes them so special. But this is not a "keyboard showcase" album either. He again uses the TFK rhythm section of Jonas Reingold and Zoltan Czorsz to great effect (especially on "Horses from Zaad"), as well as a variety of excellent guitarists to fill the gaps.

It's all instrumental again, with some vocal effects (chant and scat) used here and there.

The compositions range from good to great, and are occasionally in the traditional Flower Kings soundscape. But there's an almost hypnotic or "spiritual" feel to much of this album too. There's no mistaking that this is Tomas Bodin, and not TFK. You really have to listen and let your body and soul melt into the music.

It's really a very beautiful album. Very personal sounding. It should be purchased and listened to by many more music lovers.

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Send comments to Squire Jaco (BETA) | Report this review (#119865)
Posted Thursday, April 26, 2007 | Review Permalink
Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Talking about Tomas Bodin, I don't know why recently I thought that he is somewhat similar with Genesis' Tony Banks. What does Tony Banks to do with Tomas Bodin? Nothing, actually. That's only my own perception that was built from learning the music of these two geniuses in prog music. I had enjoyed quite a lot all albums by Tony Banks which I think I could not find any single album by Tony Banks that truly stands out! In fact, I know that he contributed a lot in music making of any Genesis album. This thing is similar with Tomas Bodin which I believe he has written numerous compositions for The Flower Kings (his home band) collaborating with Roine Stolt. But when it comes into solo album, I do not see any album (until the third) that really stand out. They are not bad at all but there is nothing that is compelling from any album of him. But "Sonic Boulevard" album is better than "Pinup Guru". Oh by the way, Tomas Bodin's SWEDISH FAMILY is an excellent one.

The opening track "The Prayer" (2:29) is quite promising as it contains ambient male chanting with a sound quality of Yossou n Dour (who used to collaborate with Peter Gabriel) combined with church organ sound. It moves seamlessly to "The Hero From Cloud City" (8:41) which features stunning guitar solo (by Roine Stolt?). This is a blues based composition with medium tempo. "Back To The African Garden" (6:36) provides traditional music landscape. Again, the guitar solo is excellent. I think Tomas gives way his keyboard solo in this track to guitar. The result is a good composition. "Walkabout" (6:03) is an attractive song with excellent male chanting, energetic music that combines traditional and jazzy style. Guitar plays important role. It's like a combination of George Benson and jazz rock music. In fact, the proportion of jazz music in most of songs in this album is quite high, it's about 70%, I would say. "The Happy Frog" is very obvious in the influence from jazz music.

Overall, this album is very good especially in terms of composition and songwriting. If you like the combination of jazz and rock featuring more of guitar solo augmented with keyboard, this album suits your taste.

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

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Send comments to Gatot (BETA) | Report this review (#121060)
Posted Monday, May 07, 2007 | Review Permalink
Zitro
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars A dramatic improvement over his previous solo album "Pinup Guru." This removes the corniness, incoherence, and some of the improvisational nature of that album. Actually, these two albums should not even be compared as they are very different to each other. "Sonic Boulevard" is a mostly soothing lyric less disc with wordless vocals, world and jazz influences, and of course: it sounds a bit like the Flower Kings whenever Tomas Bodin dominates in both playing and songwriting, especially the Flower Power period. If you are a fan of that band, be glad because most of the band members star here, including Ulf Wallander, the underrated Saxophone player. To sum up, "Sonic Boulevard" is beautiful movie-soundtrack oriented music with emphasis on melody.

Like in Pinup Guru, there is an excellent introduction. This time "The Prayer" is a marvelous little gem with melancholic soaring vocals, restrained atmospheric arrangements. The first real song, "The Hero from Cloud City," is a guitar-oriented composition in the vein of "Stardust We Are" or "Church of Your Heart" from the Flower Kings. "Back to the African Garden" and other songs in this disc focus on easy melodies and very pleasant music. The stronger tracks in this vein are the very cool and jazzy "Walkabout" with its great scatting and especially the masterpiece "Morning will Come" which relies on an excellent motif and shows excellent musicianship and arrangements that perfectly compliments the song. The closer, The Night Will Fall, is a more musically diverse epic and has a cinematic feel.

Overall, this album is not for everyone. It's very gentle and never goes into a fast tempo nor a heavy section. It's very melodic and features some great compositions but I am not sure if it falls under the progressive rock genre.

1. The Prayer (A-) 2. The Hero From Cloud City (B+) 3. Back To The African Garden (B) 3. Pictures (B-) 4. Walkabout (B+) 6. The Horses From Zaad (B) 7. A Beautiful Mind (B) 8. The Happy Frog (B-) 9. Morning Will Come (A) 10. The Night Will Fall (B+)

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Send comments to Zitro (BETA) | Report this review (#132019)
Posted Sunday, August 05, 2007 | Review Permalink
progrules
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Third effort by Tomas Bodin, this Sonic Boulevard and every time I hear this one I'm amazed why this famous keyboardist would let the guitar play such a prominent part on his solo album. Well, it's his album and obviously his well thought out choice so who am I to question it ?

Anyway, it shows the modesty and down to earth approach of this musical artist. And obviously he is in no way frustrated about the dominant role his companion Roine Stolt plays on many Flower Kings albums otherwise he wouldn't have done this, right ? And that's also one of the reasons I have such great sympathy for Tomas Bodin. Despite he is enormously gifted as a musician he is still a very relaxed and down to earth guy, at least from what I hear and know.

Now some more about this particular album. Compared to the predecessor (Pinup Guru) Sonic Boulevard is more melodic and less extravagant. But what they have in common is the structure: a standard (10) numbers of songs and this is totally different from his last two albums where three long songs are present. Another resemblance with Pinup Guru is the occasional refference to earlier TFK albums with short interlude fragments of songs. I like it personally because to me it's a feast of recognition. And it also shows Tomas' relaxed way of approaching music. Don't take yourself too seriously and have some fun every now and then. This also is evident in the jazzy Walkabout which also clearly refers to an older TFK song.

Last thing I want too say about this great album is the great perfection and production that shine through so clearly all the time. Because even though Tomas is probably a relaxed person he is also a dedicated musical artist and want his works to sound as good as possible. I have no doubt about that. And Sonic Boulevard is from all his solo albums probably the best example of that. All song sound abolutely fantastic and he allowed no fillers here. Four stars is the least it deserves. Well done once again, Tomas !

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Send comments to progrules (BETA) | Report this review (#163868)
Posted Friday, March 14, 2008 | Review Permalink
ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Tomas is again surrounded by some of his TFK team mates for this contemplative, yet moving album.

The Pinup Guru line up (which was rather minimalist) is again backed up by Roine (amongst others), and this is a fine add on, to say the least. The emotional guitar is definitely adding a lot of emotion throughout this work (The Hero From The Cloud). If you haven't seen the CD layout, there are many chances that you would feel a deep TFK flavour while listening to this very good track. Atmospheric, peaceful as well as emotional. It is one of the best track available for sure.

The feeling that prevails during the first couple of tracks (no vocal here), is effectively a strong TFK link: being in the guitar play or in the mood (jazzy during Back To The African Garden).

One jumps from into the Trespass-esque mood (Picture) to the jazzy TFK ones easily (Walkabout). The latter includes a call & response part which is somewhat disturbing and not very welcome as far as I'm concerned. This has been performed a long time ago with greater skills IMO.

This long album also has its flows (Horses From Zaad) and it pretty uneven. The same song can both convey a boredom or a lovely feeling (A Beautiful Mind) but the overall jazzy atmosphere finally works on my nerves and drags this work a little lower in my appreciation scale: The Happy Frog might make a frog happy, but I suppose I'm not one of them.

If the category symphonic jazz would be available on PA, this Sonic Boulevard would easily fit in there but I am not too much into this actually. I didn't expect this filiation either.

There are some very good moments on this album (Morning Will Come), but those are usually guitar ones. As it is mostly pleasant, I rate it with three stars, but don't expect some flamboyant music.

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Send comments to ZowieZiggy (BETA) | Report this review (#188303)
Posted Saturday, November 08, 2008 | Review Permalink
snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars I was really pleased with this Tomas Bodin album. Nothing too much connected with The Flower Kings, his main band.

Very pleasant, melodic and ,what most important, intelligent music. Some Roine Stolt nice guitar solos, very jazzy drumming and excellent keyboards. Tasteful use of electronics, great sound. Instrumental music somewhere on the border between modern symphonic prog, jazz fusion and nu.jazz. By the way, "Walkabout" ,even if some jazzy arrangements, for me isn't far away most interesting song there ( in fact - it is more soul/urban sound, and too soapy as for my taste).

Easy, relaxed and pleasant listening, just not very progressive.

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Send comments to snobb (BETA) | Report this review (#260790)
Posted Thursday, January 14, 2010 | Review Permalink
b_olariu
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Third solo album of Bodin issued in 2003 just a year after Pinup guru named Sonic boulevard. On this album Bodin manage to make the music not so similar anymore with his mother band TFG, here we have some symphonic jazz arrangements but melted with sax elements, it gives a nice atmosphere. Melodic album with again helping hand from 2 TFG musicians, Sonic boulevard to me is little less intristing then previous work, mainly because is to diverse and has no precise direction, still good but no fantstic moments overall. The keynords is of course good with jazz elements and symphonic touches. 3 stars, good but no near excellent.

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Send comments to b_olariu (BETA) | Report this review (#529069)
Posted Thursday, September 22, 2011 | Review Permalink
kev rowland
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Crossover Team
3 stars Tomas Bodin is keyboard player with The Flower Kings, and this is his follow-up to 'Pin Up Guru' which came out in 2002. Initially his idea was to create a low budget album to sell through the internet where he could experiment with different styles without having to worry about budgets. Having given a copy of the work in progress to Roine he was told that the album should be released properly. He has been joined by Roine and other musicians, so that it isn't a solo album in all respects of the word. The result is an album of lengthy 'songs' which is quite dreamy and almost Floyd-like, with a lot of keyboards and some guitar.

But while it works quite well as background music I can never conceive of it being any more than that. When listening to it intently the attention soon starts to drift and it is hard to overcome the urge to just eject the CD and put on something with a bit more bite to it. I am sure that there will be times when this will be the correct music for whatever I am doing, but it will not be just sat and listening to it.

Originally appeared in Feedback #78, Feb 04

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Send comments to kev rowland (BETA) | Report this review (#993668)
Posted Tuesday, July 09, 2013 | Review Permalink
apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Neo Prog Team
3 stars For a third solo album Bodin was actually heading for an album, much more ambiental compared to his previous ones and based on a limited budget, originally intented to be sold via the internet.After three weeks of hard work Roine Stolt was called to share his opinion.He proposed Tomas to record the album in a proper way, because he thought it was too good not to end up in a physical form.The record company offered the green light and Stolt was of course among the participants of the recordings as where also Jonas Reingold, Hasse Bruniusson and Zoltan Csorsz.Anders Jansson was recruited to sing the vocal parts and an experienced JJ Marsh was offered the main guitar role.''Sonic boulevard'' was released in 2003 on Inside Out and features another three guests on sax and percussion, among them was Ulf Wallander, sax player on Nya Ljudbolaget's sole 81' album and a regular participant on The Flower Kings' albums.

''Sonic boulevard'' of course does not sound as a low-budget production after the fully professional recordings, but it does not sound either like the initial descriptions commented by Bodin himself.It does sound most of the time like a lost THE FLOWER KINGS album, pretty reasonable when you think that the whole band-family was playing on this.Though Stolt appears only in a pair of tracks, Marsh appears to wear his shoes and delivers some beautiful melodic and jazzy guitar moves in the album.I guess the ambiental description goes for the lack of bombastic orchestrations and the powerful grandieur, which appears every now and then in a FLOWER KINGS album.Otherwise ''Sonic boulevard'' follows more or less the same musical values, except it sounds a bit more closer to old-fashioned Symphonic Rock ala KAIPA or DICE, as the music is full of Classical preludes and interludes, Mellotron waves and intelligent guitar work, all executed in elaborate arrangements.Dreamy textures and long instrumental orchestrations offer what any lover of Classic Prog can dream of.There are only a few tracks, which escape the rule, and come either with a Lounge profile with atmospheric keyboards, piano and sax plays (like the closing ''The night will fall'') or with a more pronounced jazzy taste, which still hold a deep sense of melody (like ''Walkabout').But the most symphonic tracks are the ones that win the race here, very nice and refined arrangements with beautiful keyboard variations by Bodin and a trully crafty guitarist like JJ Marsh.

More tight than ''Pinup guru'' as a whole, this time the reason a Bodin album loses some ground is the abscence of dynamics.Not a trully serious flaw though, as the arrangements are mostly well-worked and clever.Strongly recommended...3.5 stars.

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Send comments to apps79 (BETA) | Report this review (#1259391)
Posted Monday, August 25, 2014 | Review Permalink

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