Tomas Bodin, full-time keyboardist for The Flower Kings, has previously released solo records in the Jazzrock/Fusion and Retro Prog vein, on Inside Out Music. I Am is a Progressive Rock Opera concept album, in three parts. Bodin explains that this record is very different than previous efforts and lists his influences as Pink Floyds The Wall, David Bowie, Deep Purple and Yes. I Am will appeal to fans of The Flower Kings, as well as Prog & Jam Music fans in general.
参加メンバーは、TFKでおなじみのヨナス・レインゴールドに、前作に続き、メインヴォーカルにアンダース・ヨハンソン、ギターにJOCKE JJ MARSHを迎えて1曲めから爽快なシンフォニックロックが全開の快作。
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 possibly 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.
I Am is the start of a trilogy. And as expected from a guy with a background like Bodin, the music in this is tight, coherent, flowing, and - well - perfect. If there's a flaw on this album, it's the vocals. No, they aren't bad at all. Notice I gave the album 5 stars.
The album has three tracks on it. 'I', 'A', and 'M' (in case you missed it, it spells the title of the album). Each track is about twenty minutes in length, and composed of several parts.
'The Prayer', of 'A', is one of the highlights of the album. Its sang to God, over light piano. Wonderful and beautiful. The vocals on 'M' are amazing, as well - they're sung with such emotion and passion that it's almost unbearable.
If the next two albums are anything like this, I can't wait for them. One of the best releases of 2005, of any genre.
The second track "A" starts with a heavier feel and a great guitar riff. Tomas' vocals at times really remind me of Roger Waters. At times angry and at other times soft and feeling.
The third track "M" ties it all together with some catchy riffs and various impressive melodies.
I was hoping for a bigger finish, as it just kind of stops after a decent crescendo but this has to go towards the top of list for Prog CD of the year!