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Tomas Bodin, 'An Ordinary Night in My Ordinary Life'

An Ordinary Night in My Ordinary Life  (1996,  66.12)  ***½

Entering the Spacebike
Into the Dreamscape
The Ballerina From Far Beyond
Daddy in the Clouds
Speed Wizard
An Ordinary Nightmare in Poor Mr. Hope's Ordinary Life
In the Land of The Pumpkins
The Magic Rollercoaster
The Gathering
Three Stories
  Samuel - The Knight
  Adam - The Prophet
  Miranda - The Queen
Tomas Bodin, 'Pinup Guru'

Pinup Guru  (2002,  70.54)  ***½

Sodium Regale
What's Going on?
Me & Liz
Harlem Heat
The Day I Saw My Beautiful Neighbour
New in the 'Hood
Bloood!
The Ballerina is Not Getting Closer
The Last Eagle
The Final Swig
Tomas Bodin, 'Sonic Boulevard'

Sonic Boulevard  (2003,  64.21)  **½

The Prayer
The Hero From Cloud City
Back to the African Garden
Pictures
Walkabout
The Horses From Zaad
A Beautiful Mind
The Happy Frog
Morning Will Come
The Night Will Fall
Tomas Bodin, 'I AM'

I AM  (2005,  63.23)  ***

I
  The Beginning
  Wheel Spinner
  Day By Day
  Mother's Heart
  Speeder
  They'll Fight for Me!
  Fighters
  War is Over
  Aftermath
  The Angel of Dreams
  The Awakening
A
  Take Me Home
  The Tree of Knowledge
  The Path of Decision I
  The Prayer
  The Path of Decision II
  Close the Deal
  The Path of Decision III
  The Tube of Reverse
M
  In the Land of Retrospect
  "Why/7 Days at Kingdom's Inn"
  Voice Macabre
  Dance Macabre
  The Halls of Future
  The Path of Light I
  The Path of Light II

Tomas Bodin, 'Cinematograaf'

Cinematograaf  (2008,  51.55)  ***

An Ocean in Between
A Spanish Ballerina in Love
Six Six Six
Tomas Bodin, 'You Are'

You Are  [as Eggs & Dogs]  (2009,  77.08)  ***

You Are
Poor Lucille
Food
Dad is Coming Home
Private Skies
American Standards
Silicone Bimbo Run
Tomas Bodin, 'She Belongs to Another Tree'

She Belongs to Another Tree  (2015,  64.15)  ****

Dried Leaves From the Sky
When a Ballerina Fish Made Her Gum Crawl
Damn, I Was Stung By a Zap Goblin
She Belongs to Another Tree
A Drama Queen in a Sky Bar
The Sloths Are Never Climbing Inwards
Dancing a Tree in a Paranormal Café
Night Forest

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Tomas Bodin is, of course, keyboard player with The Flower Kings and one of only two consistent members other than leader Roine Stolt. He's clearly an important part of the band's sound and the only other writer besides Stolt, but he not only finds time for a solo career amongst the chaos, but guests on many other artists' projects, not least Jonas Reingold's Karmakanic and Stéphane Desbiens' D Project.

Much of his first solo album, 1996's An Ordinary Night in My Ordinary Life, sounds as if it could easily slot into a contemporaneous TFK release, although Bodin flexes his stylistic muscles on the experimental An Ordinary Nightmare In Poor Mr. Hope's Ordinary Life (cut-up with funk bass) and the mad electronica of The Magic Rollercoaster. Best tracks? Probably church organ piece Daddy In The Clouds and the lengthy, symphonic prog of Three Stories, although the album could easily lose ten minutes or more without affecting its integrity. 'Mellotron' strings and/or choir on most tracks, with flutes (and cellos?) thrown in here and there, all obviously sampled, even if Mr. Bodin hadn't confirmed that for me in person some years ago.

I presume TFK business and other projects kept Tomas from his solo career for the next six years, but 2002's Pinup Guru was worth the wait for those who consider him possibly the most talented member of the parent band (ouch). It's not all good and (of course) is far too long, but there's enough quality material here to make a very good 45-minute record indeed; unfortunately, that would involve considerable editing of individual tracks, but there you go. Plenty of samplotron, with choirs all over What's Going On? and strings, choir, flutes and 'Tron cellos present across most of the album's length.

The following year's Sonic Boulevard, however, displayed either a Bodin content to spread his musical wings, or one suffering from overwork, probably depending on viewpoint. It starts well enough, The Hero From Cloud City (symphonic prog) and Back To The African Garden (fusion jamming) doing pretty much what you'd expect, but by the end of the overlong disc, eighteen tortuous minutes of the last two tracks, Morning Will Come and The Night Will Fall, are enough to make you want to ditch the whole thing. Plenty of samplotron dotted throughout, some so obviously sampled that you can only imagine Bodin has no real interest in the sounds as anything other than prog tropes, rather than for their own sake.

2005's I AM is something of a return to form, although, as ever, you could probably trim a good twenty minutes from its considerable length and end up with a better album. Three lengthy multi-part tracks constitutes 'none more prog', ditto the concept that is quite inevitably involved, though irrelevant to all but the most hardened of prog lyric-watchers, usually a slightly sad breed. Plenty of fine moments, though not enough to hold this listener's interest for a whole bloody hour; reasonable levels of samplotron, including a few 'solo' moments, but it all sounds so... sampled. Probably unsurprisingly, 2008's all-instrumental Cinematograaf has a distinctly soundtracky feel about it, although the overall mood of the album remains one of long passages of musical exposition interrupted by somewhat shorter ones of real musical content. Nonetheless, it's a decent listen, if rather unengaging for much of its length, while once again, samplotron use is sparing but effective.

2009's You Are, while frequently listed as a Bodin album (er, as here), was actually released under the one-off band name Eggs & Dogs, for no known reason. In fairness, while much of it sounds like a typical Bodin release, parts don't, not least the oddly bluesy opening title track, while the barbershop quartet vocals on Dad Is Coming Home are far from standard. As usual, the music has originality issues - the bit on Private Skies when they suddenly start playing The Cinema Show should've been dropped - but, unless you completely deconstruct the genre and rebuild from the ground up, modern symphonic prog is unlikely to sound overly different from its progenitors. Plenty of samplotron, as you'd expect, notable use including the clunky flute melody on Poor Lucille, with background strings at the end of the track, the flute solo that opens American Standards and the flutes in lengthy closer Silicone Bimbo Run.

After a lengthy gap, 2015's She Belongs to Another Tree is a minor revelation, in that it a) doesn't sound like The Bloody Flower Kings and b) is really rather good! It's a distinct left turn for Bodin, being an instrumental electronic album - well, of sorts. He actually plays quite a bit of piano on the record, not least on opener Dried Leaves From The Sky and the title track, but drums and vocals are notable by their absence. Highlights? Dried Leaves From The Sky (why am I reminded of The Enid?), the heavily electronic Damn, I Was Stung By A Zap Goblin and the title track, possibly, but this really is the best thing Bodin's done in a long time. Or, I suspect, the best thing period. Perhaps he's finally finding his own voice? Very little samplotron, however, with naught but the occasional choir part sticking its head up above the parapet.

Only a fool would attempt to deny Tomas Bodin's obvious talent; however, like many excellent musicians, I'm not sure he isn't better employed as a sideman than as a solo artist. Saying that, if you already have a soft spot for The Flower Kings' repertoire, I can probably recommend all the above save Sonic Boulevard.

links

Official site

See: The Flower Kings | Roine Stolt | D Project | J J Marsh | Karmakanic


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