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TOMAS BODIN IAM Inside Out (2005) Tomas Bodin

I really cannot believe that it's been two years since Tomas Bodin released his previous solo album "Sonic Boulevard", and here I am with another of his promos in my hand - a release entitled "IAM". Some of you may remember me describing "Sonic Boulevard" as a multi-influenced, easy going album which would have no trouble in attracting a mixed audience, but soon after I first listened to Bodin's latest release, I realised that quite a few things have changed in relation to his musical vision during the last couple of years.

The main difference between "Sonic Boulevard"and "IAM" is that, while the first one was a collection of ten different compositions that presented a variety of different influences, the latter is a concept/rock opera album that's divided in three enormous musical pieces with an average duration of twenty one minutes. It is also very important to mention that this is the first time that the keyboard player of The Flower Kings has decided to create a non-instrumental album, for the creation of which he used not one, but three different vocalists.

If you put all these things together, it is not difficult to imagine why listening to "IAM" can be challenging, not only for the average music fan, but even to Bodinís loyal fans.

Creating a concept album, or a rock opera if you prefer, is by no means an easy task - especially the way Tomas Bodin envisioned it, and even though I consider "IAM" to be a quite successful musical "experiment", I believe that it is not going to be easily accepted by people whose ears are not "properly trained" to that style of music. It is most probably the fans of The Flower Kings will first invest in it - but also people who listen to bands like Pink Floyd and Kansas will find quite a few tracks to be to their liking.

Even though "I", the opening part of the album kicks off really nicely, with it's 70's Kansas-influenced Hammond sounds and Jonas Reingold's (also The Flower Kings) beautiful bass tunes, it was not long before I began to loose interest in it - especially the last seven minutes, which don't seem to fit that well with the main theme of the composition. The other two parts, "A" and "M" are much better focused and full of good quality prog-metal tunes and beautiful vocal parts sung by Anders Jansson, Pernilla Bodin and Helene Schonning.

I am indeed a big fan of The Flower Kings music, and I really appreciate Tomas Bodin's solos, so I will not find it very difficult to place "IAM" in my CD player. On the other hand, I do admit that I will probably have to be in a very specific mood when I decide to do such a thing. Don't buy this album if you are not willing to give it your utmost attention. Sometimes, it takes a lot of effort to enjoy good quality things.

***½

Review by John Stefanis

***** Out of this world | **** Pretty damn fine |
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan |
** Instant bargain bin fodder | * Ugly. Just ugly


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