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Tomas Bodin - I AM CD (album) cover


Tomas Bodin

Symphonic Prog

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4 stars Tomas has pulled out all the stops for his forth solo album. I wasn't sure if I liked it at first, and a 63 minute suite is a lot to take in all at once (it is split into 3 tracks, and each is subdivided into various parts, but it is still a cohesive single piece). The thing I had the most trouble with was the vocals. In the first track, they are quite frakly, grating at times. Fortuneatly, this is only a few spots here and there in the first track, and in the sucessive tracks they improve immensly. In fact, it is hard to believe it is the same singer in later parts, it is so much better. That is really my only gripe with the album, and it is a minor one. There are some excellent prog workouts, including a couple of the best solo's I have ever heard Bodin play. The bass and drums are very solid, and if you don't listen closely you may not realize just how well played they are. The new Flower Kings drummer Marcus is quite good, and reminds me very much of Jamie Salazar, the original Flower Kings drummer. JJ Marsh also has some very nice moments on lead guitar, and manages to inject some truly blusy moments as well as gritty 70's hard rock riffs. It is hard to do this album justice with a review. It was meant to be listened to, not discussed. Suffice to say, it is by far Tomas' best solo outing, and I enjoy it much more than I did the last Flower Kings release. It takes a few listens to come realize just how good this album is, but isn't that true of the best progressive rock and music in general? In any case, if you like his other albums and other bands, then you will enjoy this. If you like extremely diverse, excellently played, extremely dynamic prog rock music then this is a must have.
Report this review (#37106)
Posted Monday, June 20, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars Excellent cd, excellent vocals, excellent musianship, excellent lyrics, excelent concept... you can hear lots of bands in this one, like for example yes, pink floyd , deep purple. Its like The flower kings, but better much better =P I love progmusic, this cd is a must have GREAT CD !! BUY IT NOW!!!

P.d: Jonas Reingold and Anders Jansson are great!!!

Report this review (#37990)
Posted Wednesday, June 29, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars I agree with the first two reviewers, particularly the statement that this CD is meant to be listened to and not neccessarily duscussed. The vocals are probably the only negative I can point out on this record. They seem strained and don't fit very well with the feel of the CD. Small price to pay though because there is some fantastic music going on behind those vocals. This effort more than his previous works, show how much influence he REALLY has in making TFK the band that they are. The solos are exciting and energetic, the rhythm section is a force to be reconned with and the compositions are above average to superior.

I like the mindset that Bodin has injected into this project and it is quite clear and unmistakable and wrapped into 63 minutes of some of the best music I have heard in a while. I really like this album and rate it above all his other efforts.

If you are into innovative, fresh progressive rock... dim the lights, close your eyes and get lost in Tomas Bodin's latest and greatest project. It is worth the trip.

Report this review (#41920)
Posted Sunday, August 7, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars I disagree with a couple of the reviewers. I think the vocals are fine, not the best but it doesn't take away from this fine CD. Funny how all the Flower king solo adventures are pretty stinking good huh? I liked this cds right off. It didn't take 3 or 4 listens like some others. Too bad it skips in 2 places, now I have to find another one.
Report this review (#51839)
Posted Friday, October 14, 2005 | Review Permalink
King of Loss
4 stars This is Tomas Bodin's 4th solo album and by far in my humble opinion, his greatest piece of art. This is a 63 minute suite called "IAM" divided into 3 parts called I, A, M. Easy to figure, eh? ;)

We start with the first part of the album, called I (Hey, I figured it out!) It is of course a great piece of work, nothing short of amazing. Heavily reminiscent of the Flower Kings (of course! What can you expect with 2 other members of TFK?!) The song starts off nice and keyboard-ish and of course the jazzy TFK feel. Nice and smooth, eh? Reminds me heavily of Garden of Dreams (Don't know why?!??!?!???) The song is of course very good and very typical of a TFK album, except there isn't Roine Stolt or Hasse Froberg on it! The usually bad vocals do not really bother me, it is actually pretty good and fits the suite.

Actually rest of the suite pretty much sounds like a TFK album, except that it is much more keyboard dominated than the bass/guitar dominated TFK attack.

Overall, this album is EXTREMELY WELL WRITTEN. An essential for all TFK fans and lovers of this style. Greatly recommended 4.5/5

(Too bad not many people have heard this good album!)

Report this review (#64648)
Posted Friday, January 13, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Previous Tomas Bodin albums, to me, have been very good. More so Pin Up Guru than Sonic Boulevard. They, however, didn't compare to The Flower Kings material Tomas is normally associated with. They had the same musical vibe, but the overall products I found were still a few meteres apart. That is, of course, till now. His fourth Solo Album, "I AM", is here. A 63 minute album spanning over, wait, three tracks, "I", "A" and "M". Not something you see every day. However, I cannot help but think this album is pure bliss. Rather dramatic in places, but still. Thats all part of the concept of I AM.If you listen, you can really here the pain of the person in question, doing this 9-5 job and completely forgetting who he/she is. Neither can I also help relate myself to certain parts of the album, but musically it is genius. Tomas hadn't really used vocals for his past solo albums, and I have to say with this album he has done a fantastic job. I wasn't sure at first, but the more times I listened to the album, the more I got used to them. Maybe thats because I was I find myself getting deeper and deeper into the music. Not for a long time has an album given me so much to think about, so much pleasure and that warm, spine-shivering feeeling you get when you know an album means so much to you. In a nutshell? You must buy this album, its absolutely essential. I am not saying that just because I can relate to it totally, but I honestly beleive if you like well written, beautifully put together prog rock masterpieces you can not go wrong with this one.
Report this review (#69242)
Posted Monday, February 13, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars 3.8 Stars

Wow, what an opus! Tomas Bodin shows everyone that Roine Stolt is not the only great composer playing in the Flower Kings. After hearing this album, I realized that Tomas Bodin should have more than 1 minute long interludes as it often happens. Here, he composes something I could call "Rock Opera". This is like a mixture of The Wall and The Flower Kings. A Personal concept album. I AM is divided into three pieces, one for each letter of the title. The Flower Kings sound is present as Jonas Reingold plays the bass in a similar way as he does with the band while quoting some bass lines from Unfold the Future and Bodin who's keyboard playing. I have some trouble liking the singer in the first and third movements.

I - After a long atmospheric intro focused in theatrical vocals, The overture blows you away with an organ workout featuring some blazing synth riffs. A church organ introduces the singer and the song begins. It is overall very dynamic, has some great heavy passages, and the main synth riff is played a few times. The last five minutes are a bit boring though: just vocals under repetitive and uninteresting piano lines. Overall, I find this piece the most enjoyable when it is heavy. 8/10

A - My favourite composition of the three. Beginning with piano like the ending of the last track, it fools you as the song won't be that soft. A distorted guitar plays a mesmerizing and absolutely rocking riff, and the singer sings much better than before, complementing the guitar riffing perfectly. Then, the next part involves jazzy drumming, simple piano playing, and the bass upfront making variations of a bass line from "Silent Inferno". When the singer talks to God, it is another highlight of the album. It starts tranquil with classical piano, but then it gets much more biting. The soft- heavy transformation is really well done! When the classical piano dominates again, it leads to another short highlight: a reference to "The Truth Will Set You Free" with the same riff and bass line, yet improved. The bass line is only 4 different notes in a loop, each note played twice rapidly before going to the next one. The next few minutes take you to the sound of the Flower Kings. The pice continues coherently into a heavier finale. 9/10

M - My least favourite piece, yet a solid epic. After a lot of time given to the singer, th song gets much heavier. I love the bass lines used and the hevy guitar riffs. A guitar solo ends this great moment. A soft piano/vocal section follows and it develops and progresses nicely. Another good guitar solo marks the end of it, and the climax ends the disc. I believe the climax is not very strong and does not capture all the emotion heard in all the three tracks. 6/10

Regardless of my negativity towards M, you should get this album if you like The Flower Kings. This is a beautiful opus that should not be ignored, as well as Roine's solo projects.

My Rating : B-

Report this review (#71547)
Posted Friday, March 10, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Huge disc without a doubt some will be of the best thing than it leaves east year as far as progressive rock talks about, huge in all the necessities, as I title indicates the Spanish, I I am, if it is his form of expression with reaches immense of very deep dimensions I wonder myself if the New CD and very waited for "Ça Ira" of Roger WATERS the new one operates of the teacher based on the French revolution, is similar or different, since also it is in three movements and each movement is of 20 minutes approximately, good better nonadvance conjectures. This I magnify work that will give much of which to speak, is rather a well obtained piece where Takings BODIN its personal point of view is worth the redundancy of the same one, its particular mink of the world, "I" with a beginning to style OZRIC TENTACLES in "Jurassic Shift" the sound of a metallic piece that crawls, this it has an impressive sound is the longest piece of the disc that of in case it comes connected to way of a great track, with an obvious enhancement in the beauty of the keyboards, despite is remarkable the participation of the musicians, already recognized bearish Jonas REINGOLD and the new drummer of THE FLOWER KINGS young person of little 19 years but of showy talents Marcus LILIEQUIST Swedish also, luck that implies to be released in a disc destined to the greatness and the a praises and completes I circulate completes already all THE FLOWER KINGS are Swedish, like this alignment, is "I", are evident many things that same Takings BODIN, because in an interview it mentions that its influence is PINK FLOYD, YES, DEEP PURPLE and their friend and companion Roine STOLT, "To", with a smooth beginning, lets his tones to take step to the sounds of the guitar to the Hard style of DEEP PURPLE, the drummer makes a good work here of ambientación and the voice sounds very in the style of a smooth rock and delicious, there are parts that sound very space allow to the critical moment influence of PINK FLOYD, is not something bad that has ideas or it takes ideas from other bands while the bear adapts to them as this it is the case and very or done by the way, in these short whiles does of hers, also there are parts that sound to RENAISSANCE, music in any point of the disc is brilliant and of very good taste, there are choirs of the women and the man very or placed, for the end "M" but before the connection finishes is not fabulous and very beautiful plenty of bells and the initial sound, finally to happen to "M" completes part of this conceptual disc, the beginning until part of this is like a revision of the first two tracks, the rest could not beside the point less be appraised is also very good as all the disc in if, with flautas, very good guitars and riff of guitar, the drummer I adapt either, that very is something that speaks very or of not having professional experience and this being very its first examination it step or, the disc in the end it seems not to want to finish and in fact not if it does, it can that has one second brilliant serious part. Really a forced disc and that must have time to dedicate the total to him of its duration, then is worth the trouble will hear much of this disc, because it is very good.
Report this review (#88648)
Posted Friday, September 1, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Since this was my first album I bought from direct influence of this sight, I found it quite fitting that this would be my first review. But what can I say that has not already been said about this album? Not much since most of it has been covered, but perhaps I can put my own spin on it.

The three songs on this album are equily epic. The first song, I, does an amasing job of opining the album. It has almost a '1984' by Rick Wakeman feel to it, with a very deep sound, and very quick high notes on the keybords. Like the other two songs, the song goes through many changes, so if one part of the song does not do anything for you, there will be one part that will. Even the scechy vocals halfway through the song with some notes sounding like the lead sinnger: Anders Jansson just could not quite hit, makes it that much more enjoyable. It adds a feel of 'realality' to the sound. As though admiting to limitations, and instead of going back and trying to 'perfect' the album, leave it as it is. That makes it, at least to me, much more enjoyable then hearing the notes hit perficly.

The second song: A, is my favourity song on the album, and could quite posibly be one of my favourit songs. When first listining to it, you keep thinking "there's no way he can top that epic bild up and climax" when BAM! your hit again with an even greater one. It starts with a very soothing grand piano solo, and then hits you with a very heavy dubble gitar, acompanied with the very 'rockish' vocals. When they say "Take me home" it feels as though you are home, expeshaly when Tomas comes in on the keybords. The grand sound is almost over powering, and it's hard not to enjoy it. It then goes into a very mellow fase, with its main focus on focals, a base line and a very nice piano movement, which gets progressively mellow. It gets to the point where it's only the lead vocals just past a wisper, and the grand piano.

It then enters what I love about this song, a very powerful and holesome sound. It even pays tribute to The Flower Kings album 'Unfold the Future' when Anders sings "The truth will set you free" being followed by the Zilaphone, similer to the song "the Truth will set you free" and back up humming has a very fermiler sound that I cant quite place. It again gose into a mellow fase, with a synthazised flute, and starts to bild momentom. It then reaches the first of two big climaxes of the song. On first listining to the song, I though there was no way he could top that and that was the end of the awesome song. Luckaly, I was very wrong and the song continues on, as though the song itself does not wish to stop.

It then continues on where the last climax had left off, but going through a slows down, as though walking down slanted stairs, or riding a bumpy slide. And again, when you think its over, it hits you with the hardest part of the song, with full forse sound. From here it comes to a nice finish and a lead in to the last song.

Ever since I first heard the last song, to even now, I still think the begining of the song is how Pink Floyd's "The wall" or "The Final Cut" should have ended, sound wise. It starts with very emotional vocals, and offers a very reflective lyrics. After the intro, it continues on to how most of the album has sounded before it, with heavy gitars, and keybords. The song goes through many changes like the songs before it and ends very abruply that takes a few listens to get use to.

All in all, this is one of the best albums I've heard. If you're a fan of long epic songs, this album is for you. I give this album 4 stars since each time I listen to it, I can't help but enjoy it; the only down side to the album is the last song really doesn't go anywhere, unlike the first two songs which have clear direction, it just flounders. Also, at times it can be little too 'grand' sounding which isn't so much as a bad thing, it's just a lot to take in at one sitting and hard to get others who are use to 'Mainstream, pop radio' music to listen to it, or threaten to harm you if you don't take it off. But it is to those that Tomas is rebelling against, and it is very apparent in the album. So a very strong 4.5 stars for one of my favorite albums.

Report this review (#118659)
Posted Tuesday, April 17, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars When I bought Tomas' album I took a bit of a gamble because I had no idea of his own work, I was only aware of the fact that he was the keyboardplayer of The Flower Kings. But in fact that was enough because I believe TFK are (one of) the best band (s) ever. I have to say Tomas did not disappoint me with this very special album. It is one of the most complicated progressive albums I know and I had to listen to it many times before I got familiair with the songs. Of course they are all very long tracks but besides that it is still quite tough stuff. But I mean this positively, prog can't be complicated enough mor my liking. Only after more than 10 times playing I got through to the essence of it all. I was very pleased that my respect for this masterpiece grew and grew and is now on a very high level. The only critics I can think of are the endings of in fact all three songs. They are not exactly the highlights of the compositions.

But the rest is so good that I even doubt (once again) between 4 and 5 stars but according to the abovementioned I will have to go for four since progarchives wants us (and I believe with every right) to save the 5 stars for the very very best.

Report this review (#140309)
Posted Monday, September 24, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars ...and remember......''fake it until you make it''.

Well, Bodin seems to have made it nicely with this album. The quoted text is from the first page of the sleeve, where he talks about ''human hostile tempo'' of the 21st century and how people are intoxicated by it and about his ''bemusement over the modern 'docu-soap phenomenon''. Quite intelligently. After thit Tomas writes that ''What you'll find on this CD, however, does not concern such things....'' and that ''I AM is dedicated to everybody who dares take the inner journey, to those who dare to break established, self-destructive patterns and to everybody who believes in the impossible.'' Big words... maybe it has more of commercial value than readers benefit, but eh, it works very well as an intro-foreword.

(Hmm...quite alot of quoting done here...but, well, at least I didn't write down the text of the album's foreword completely...)

Shortly, I AM IS melodic, interesting, with nice keyboard-oriented-compositions and basically has a very likeable concept. The album artwork is really nice too, and this had quite frankly a lot to do with me buying it. I am not very well acquainted with the creations of The Flower Kings, but I do recognize that this album by their keyboardist, Bodin collaborating here with two other TFK members, drummer Marcus Liliequist and bass-player Jonas Reingold, is musically very similar to TFK. This can mean that Roine Stolt isn't making TFK happen by himself. The main thing bringing this album down is the vocal performance by Anders Jansson, but it isn't all that bad. I at least got used to it quickly and find that it fits in with the music well.

The three musical pieces here (I; A; M) make out a whole, so it's preferrable to listen to the album from start to finish. If you have time in this tempo-intoxicated world, that is.

Though there isn't anything superb or essential to this record, it gave a wonderful musical (rock-opera'ish) experience and has 'feeling' to it.

I think it deserves about 3.8 stars from me.

Report this review (#142981)
Posted Tuesday, October 9, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars For the very first time, there are lyrics featured on a Tomas Bodin album. I would say for the best and the worse since some parts are fairly good and other ones pretty much forgettable.

Apart from this new characteristic, the music which is played here is probably the closest TFK one you can expect form one of his solo work so far. There are as well some Genesis synth sounds and of course the Yes usual influence that can be listened to most of the TFK albums as well.

So, globally this is the sum of some of the three bands. Needless to say that the musicianship is brilliant (Jocke Marsh proposing some typical Roine moments as well) but that the album is too much derivative to be catalogued as truly innovative. Still, it is an enjoyable work which is running smoothly on your CD player.

The female vocals from Pernilla (Tomas's sister) are very smooth and gives a certain Kaipa angle to the opening song called I.

The second part of this album starts with a very heavy intro, this was not really expected on a Bodin solo work to say the least. After four minutes of this treat, the music gets back to a more symphonic side, which I prefer to be honest. Sweet vocals and very, very much TFK oriented moods.

The listener is embarked in a TFK ride with quiet parts, some furious electric guitar ones, which are in full accordance with Roine's play and some bombastic organ. I told you, this could have been released on several TFK albums.

When comes the third piece M, I have to say that I almost have disconnected from this album. Too much of the same actually. Still, as I have said, this album is enjoyable but I usually listen to it without really paying too much attention to its content to avoid to have a negative feel like during this review which needed a more in-depth attention.

Three stars.

Report this review (#189934)
Posted Wednesday, November 19, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars Tomas has pulled out all the stops for his forth solo album. I wasn't sure if I liked it at first, and a 63 minute suite is a lot to take in all at once (it is split into 3 tracks, and each is subdivided into various parts, but it is still a cohesive single piece). The thing I had the most trouble with was the vocals. In the first track, they are quite frankly, grating at times. Fortunately, this is only a few spots here and there in the first track, and in the successive tracks they improve immensely. In fact, it is hard to believe it is the same singer in later parts, it is so much better. That is really my only gripe with the album, and it is a minor one. Also, I came to realize (based on things Tomas has said on the Flower Kings Yahoo group) that he wanted the vocals to be gritty and angst ridden and, yes, even a bit off key for certain parts. Basically to emphasize the tortured nature of some of the lyrics.

There are some excellent prog workouts, including a couple of the best solo's I have ever heard Bodin play. The bass and drums are very solid, and if you don't listen closely you may not realize just how well played they are. The new Flower Kings drummer Marcus is quite good, and reminds me very much of Jamie Salazar, the original Flower Kings drummer. JJ Marsh also has some very nice moments on lead guitar, and manages to inject some truly bluesy moments as well as gritty 70's hard rock riffs.

It is hard to do this album justice with a review. It was meant to be listened to, not discussed. Suffice to say, it is by far Tomas' best solo outing, and I enjoy it much more than I did the Flower Kings release that came right before it (Adam & Eve). It takes a few listens to come realize just how good this album is, but isn't that true of the best progressive rock and music in general?

In any case, if you like his other albums and other bands, then you will enjoy this. If you like extremely diverse, excellently played, extremely dynamic prog rock music then this is a must have.

This album has had a profound affect on me the more I've listened to it over the years since it's release. I really think this is a prog rock masterpiece.

Report this review (#216609)
Posted Tuesday, May 19, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars Funny how I just finished my Pain of Salvation's BE and I got the urge to jump right to this CD at once. Maybe because the former CD ends with exactly these words 'I AM'. Although they are both great concept albums and from Sweden, and seem to be with obsession with these words, the two concepts are worlds apart.

While BE is a fictional and philosophical endeaver, IAM is pretty personal and to my poor English it seems Mr Bodin's key message is simply 'be yourself', or make "the world remember your name".

To be honest, I haven't followed much the Flower Kings and other side projects of the band members. This is a very fine record to my opinion. However,I think this album would really improve tremendously if Mr Bodin can get a good lyricist (sorry Tomas) to avoid some of the cliches.

Musically, this is a wonderful offering. Obviously it's a keyboardist solo album, Tomas' using patches is great. No sounds come out pretty cheesy. Other instruments are not any less solid. Some of the guitarworks are very not so bad. There's nothing else to say on the bass as it's his TFK bandmate Jonas Reingold. His bass is in all the right places. The mix is good and crisp.

One of the moments in the CD that I like best. I am playing this CD now and this section in A track from The Path of Decision I, The Prayer, upto The Path of Decision II. The first is an instrumental section with almost jazzy feel. JR is brilliant in his duel with TB's soft piano. The Prayer has some of the most haunting melodies I've ever listened this year. Too bad it's too short, and you just can't rewind a 21minute track to certain spot right?

The weakness, if any, would be the voice of Anders Jansson. His voice seems to have an interesting range, from brilliant to rather lame. Obviously the guy has some good moments but I think he seems to be very good in hard-rockish tracks (e.g. Take Me Home or In the Land of Retrospect Part 2). His lower registers in some of the quieter moments in The Prayer and the first verse of The Halls of Future are nothing short of briliant.

Another let down is the Voice Macabre section in the M track. It's so similar to one of DT songs off Train of Thoughts album. Luckily it's short.

On rating, I think this one is somewhere between 3 and 4 stars. Looking at the rating guidelines below, i am forced to ask myself if I lose this CD would i buy a new one. Then I know I can give it only 3 stars here. Sorry Tomas. I'd look forward to hearing new stuff from your new You Are album.

Report this review (#241524)
Posted Saturday, September 26, 2009 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
3 stars This is Bodin's fourth solo album but first with vocals. He's brought a couple of FLOWER KING members with him in bassist Jonas Reingold and drummer Marcus Liliequist who played on the "Paradox Hotel" album. I don't know why but i'm not having much luck with these FLOWER KING offshoots, well except for THE TANGENT but I look at that as more of an Andy Tillison led venture. Anyway there's lots to like here but also lots that I don't enjoy.

"I" opens with what sounds like wind chimes as reserved vocals join in.The music kicks in before 2 1/2 minutes. Good section. Powerful organ before it settles with reserved vocals before 5 minutes. Female vocals before 8 minutes then it kicks back in. It settels again this time with male vocals before 9 minutes. Great sound 11 minutes in. The guitar lights it up 15 1/2 minutes in, synths follow as they trade solos. A calm after 18 1/2 minutes with spoken words and keys, then female vocals return.

"A" opens with piano but some heavy guitar comes in quickly then vocals.This really reminds me of KING'S X just not as good. It settles with piano and flute 4 minutes in. Light vocals a minute later. A fuller sound 10 minutes in. Tasteful guitar 13 minutes in then we get some female vocal melodies a minute later. Kicks back in around 16 minutes. Piano and spoken words in the background ends it. "M" opens with reserved vocals and piano. Drums and guitar join in as it builds to a full sound. Sampled mellotron after 3 minutes. A nice heavy sound before 4 1/2 minutes. Check out the bass 7 minutes in and the guitar that follows.That's the best part of the album for me. It settles before 12 minutes with reserved vocals and piano. Guitar comes in then flute takes its place. The guitar is back before 15 minutes with organ. Vocals are back.

Good album with some outstanding sections.

Report this review (#246143)
Posted Saturday, October 24, 2009 | Review Permalink
The Quiet One
4 stars ''I Am the keyboardist of the Flower Kings'' said Tomas Bodin

'I Am' while being my first Tomas Bodin solo album that doesn't mean I didn't know what was coming from it. It's unmistakably in the vein of Tomas Bodin's main band, The Flower Kings, as well as similar to the recent release of Karmakanic, 'Who's the Boss in the Factory?'. However like all seperate projects by Flower Kings' members there's always some slight differences in sound, but in composition you really can't expect any differences: huge symphonic sound full of influences from 70's Prog bands, lots of instrumental passages and time changes, excellent musicianship, and the classic crescendo finale, all making up the modern symphonic prog stereotype.

Anyhow, like most solo projects, the artist shows what he really is capable of, both as a songwriter and a player, so all those who thought Tomas' playing on the Flower Kings was rather okay-ish, this album will change your mind completely(it did for me). You can still listen to his usual aspects, his soft and atmposhperic mellotron soars and the Wakeman-esque synth solos, but there's more to that now: he presents lots of piano playing which is truly fantastic varying from jazzy tones to simple beautiful notes, and there's also plenty of organ which reminds of Andy Tillison's great playing, all in all making a more diverse playing compared to his playing on The Flower Kings which is essential but rather lacking of greatness and diversity.

Anyways, when it comes to Tomas' song-writing it really isn't that different from that of Roine's with the exception of the less quantity of up-lifting melodies which are replaced by hard rockin' passages which The Flower Kings doesn't feature many, and that's why I relate 'I Am' with 'Who's the Boss in the Factory?' by Karmakanic since both share that similarity: they present a darker edge to that symphonic sound that The Flower Kings are known of. Anyways, it's just a slight difference, you can still expect lots of melodies and soloing very ala Flower Kings.

Overall 'I Am' is your typical new wave of Symphonic Prog subject, but it's probably one of the best of that! Just three outstanding epics comprising the whole album wtih magnificent playing and memorable melodies, which is another difference to the incosistency of The Flower Kings which abound of filler in some their albums.

If you don't like The Flower Kings and the like, this won't change your mind at all, it's more of the same, but someone who enjoys that style will surely find this release an excellent one. Essential if you're a fan of the ''New Wave of Symphonic Prog''.

Report this review (#256569)
Posted Thursday, December 17, 2009 | Review Permalink
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.

Report this review (#260564)
Posted Tuesday, January 12, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars The truth will set me free...

Since I heard "A" here in PA, I tried to find this album to be able to listen to him, after all it is a solo project of Tomas Bodin, who though not my favorite keyboard (I do not like very playful in their keyboards the Flower Kings), certainly had something to offer me.

And here it is: "I AM", an ambitious project who Bodin treats the delicate subject of God (delicate for some, but not for me, who worships in spirit and in truth) through different points of view: philosophical, religious, scientific ... the letters do not matter much, as I'm more interested in music.

That in turn is exceptional. The album consists of three epic strong (we could see it as an extended version of the structure of "Close to the Edge" or "Relayer"), each named after a letter of the title (ours that he had lot of work to name the songs ...).

"I" begins with some strange sounds before the vocals enter. These grow to 2 minutes until the song explodes into a perfect jam with keyboards a la The Flower Kings (ie, a la Yes), and 4 minutes to turn the vocals. I'm not a fan of this singer, because sometimes he exaggerates the treble and the music is uncomfortable, but this is offset by large instrumental sections - although these are broken by strange places, like a strange mix of jazz and phones (?). After moving in several directions the song comes to a strange but beautiful anti-climax that builds attention to the next song.

"A" is the best song on the disc, a soft piano after a heavy guitar riff takes the song to an interesting and easy the "verse-chorus-verse-chorus," and after a section reaches a more- jazzy vocals after this part, there is a very instrumental part dragged, which will accumulate until you reach what I call "the peak of the album", the singer has a conversation with God, and it is simply stunning. Then a pianette repeating the main theme of "The Truth Will Set You Free" from TFK (this phrase is also sung here, but slightly modified), reaching the best part: a guitar solo with an excellent touch of blues, just the way I like it. The music grows until reaching its first climax, and soon after the battery leads to another instrumental jam that ends in a climax even more powerful. The last two minutes are filled with sounds of female voices making requests, while providing a guitar and bass support.

"M" is the weakest song, their first 4 minutes are somewhat forgettable, but then she gets a very heavy section that takes a long time. Unfortunately the music can not keep, but to 11 inutes she calms down and starts a building to a climax that, I thought it would be monstrous. But when the song seems to be dragging its climax and ends brutally open even more brutally. Pfffff ... I smell the air of disappointment.

In the end, this is a good album, although I expected more. 4 stars

Report this review (#503606)
Posted Monday, August 15, 2011 | Review Permalink

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