Monday, June 05, 2006

REVIEW: Thomas Bodin - I Am

A Thomas Bodin album? Isn't he that guy who writes the 30 second piano interludes between the epic-length pieces on all the Flower Kings albums? Why would he want to make a solo album? It's 60 minutes long!? So you're telling me this album consists of 120 thirty-second solo piano pieces? Well, not quite...
You see, the Thomas Bodin that we know from the Flower Kings has been keeping something from us all these years. We all know the guy has great chops, we've heard his fantastic keyboard solos all along. It's in the song writing category that he's been shocking many people lately. Its either Mr. Roine Stolt didn't want to give the guy a chance, or it said specifically in his FK contract that he's only responsible for those 30-second interludes.

Whatever the reason for holding back all these years, it's a good thing he started releasing solo albums. Although I've only heard two of his albums so far, the one currently under review and Pinup Guru, I can say with quite confidently that this guy is one heck of a songwriter.

This album, his first one to feature lyrics, is a true Prog epic (in every way possible). It's pretty much an hour long piece split into three tracks. (As things tend to go quite often in this wonderful genre of ours). Each track is labelled after a letter from the album's title. I, A and M respectfully. If you try to break it down for a track-by-track comparison you'd be wasting your time. Don't bother. Instead do the thing you must do with most Prog albums. Listen to the entire album as one. It's a concept album, one that has more in common conceptually with a Pink Floyd album then what you're used to hearing from the Flower Kings. Bodin decides it's best not attempt singing himself, instead passing on the duties to fellow Swedes Anders Jansson, Helene Schönning and his wife Pernilla Bodin. English isn't Bodin's first language, but you would not know it as he manages to pen some very emotionally powerful stuff in his second language.

Changing the focus from lyrics to music, this is a stunning treat for the ears. The keyboards are present, as expected, and current Flower King members Jonas Reingold and Marcus Liliequist fill the rhythm section. The result is a mix of familiar FK tones and colours (including a quotation from The Truth Will Set You Free), and a surprising harder rocking edge. The music alternates quite nicely through all sorts of moods and atmospheres. It's a roller coaster ride of great strong emotions.

Mr. Bodin has a strong future in the world of Prog Rock. I plan on getting all of his solo albums up to date and any ones that will be coming out in the future. If you’re a fan of emotional and melodic Prog with great musicianship and melodies then this is for you. Even if you don't like the Flower Kings I'd venture to guess you might enjoy this album. Prog on!



C0ops said...

Good Review Paul....sorry about all that chess verbage the advertising and wot not.

Paul Di Meglio said...

thank you sir! and don't worry about it. I think our readers wouldn't mind playing chess while listening to prog. Although parts of this album may make it a bit hard to concentrate.