Bodin, Tomas - Sonic Boulevard

Year of Release: 2003
Label: InsideOut Music
Catalog Number: IOMCD 138/SPV 085-65972
Format: CD
Total Time: 64:20:00

I have no problem with the fact that both the Flower Kings and its members have tons of musical ideas, but for the average music lover it becomes an expensive hobby collecting the entire Flower Kings and side projects output. Compared to a lot of similar situations, the solo releases of our beloved friends do indeed include appearances from most of the other bandmembers, so in a way every single solo release does contain a decent amount of pure Flower Kings magic. For his third solo outing, keyboard player Tomas Bodin has been smart enough to enlist Roine Stolt only on two songs, but to give most of the guitar parts to his friend Jocke JJ Marsh. This move means that the typical FK trademark has been masked, as instead Marsh's guitar playing on "The Hero From Cloud City" ranges from Gary Moore to Jeff Beck. The song also illustrates Bodin's great gift what arranging is concerned. Next to the guitar outbursts the song also contains several pure symphonic passages which made me think of The Enid.

Bodin uses a lot of interesting, pleasant sounds turning Sonic Boulevard into the ideal canvas to illustrate his many talents regardless of the musical style he tackles. Over the years we have learned to love and appreciate the person and musician Tomas Bodin so whether as part of the Flower Kings or on his own we do know we can give Tomas every bit of room to improvise as he will always land on his own two feet. In "Back To The African Garden" he does indeed approach different corners from the musical spectrum but in the end it all fits. You have people who make a puzzle by first putting aside the straight edges whilst others put the pieces together by the same colour. Bodin mingles it all together putting a piece left then right then top then bottom yet in the end he delivers the most colourful result! And what better proof of his versatility than with the classical "Picture" where Bodin and piano become as one. This could be ideal music for a movie so if someone in Hollywood is reading this: give the guy a contract! But Sonic Boulevard doesn't stop here as it really is a calling card for the guy's many talents and equally as many faces. On "Walkabout" he even takes on the challenge to work together with African scatting to put his mark on a rather funky piece. Bobby McFerrin eat your heart out! Bodin certainly uses the Swedish multi-cultural environment to his advantage.

I mentioned The Enid before and I have to mention them again when I listen to "A Beautiful Mind." Maybe guitarist Jocke JJ Marsh has listened a lot to the guitar style of Francis Lickerish because it's he who delivers these dreamy sounds. As the composition evolves the guitar becomes very fragile reminding me of some of Jan Akkerman's better moments. Another side of Bodin's complex personality is illustrated by means of the funky "The Happy Frog" which contains some jazzy interventions from Ulf Wallander on saxophone. Most impressive of all is the guitar improvisation by Roine which is so different from what he is famous for. With Thomas adding some Fender Rhodes parts our "frog" sounds like one big jam session. The final two songs are like opposites of each other as one title suggests "Morning Will Come" whilst the other informs us that "The Night Will Fall." "Morning Will Come" sounds as fresh as Vivaldi's "Spring" with Anders Jansson reminding us of the vocal section in Pink Floyd's "Breathe." The build up of "The Night Will Fall" to me has a similar feel like the music of Saint-Preux yet adding some jazzy elemts such as the saxophone and Reingold's fretless bass.

Sonic Boulevard is not the kind of solo album you would normally associate with a keyboard player. Of course you get some nice solos, but throughout the album it's mainly Bodin's sense for composing that is the central idea. Tomas leaves plenty of room for other musicians to get involved, so in the end you get the jazz freedom within a well structured pattern, turning the album into a real calling card for his versatility and talent. To my great relief this is not a Flower Kings album with less guitar and more keyboards. Instead you are treated to a collection of outstanding genius which can stand the test of time with our without the help of the Flower Kings.

The Prayer (2:29) / The Hero From Cloud City (8:41) / Back To The African Garden (6:36) / Picture (4:19) / Walkabout (6:03) / The Horses From Zaad (5:27) / A Beautiful Mind (5:57) / The Happy Frog (6:35) / Morning Will Come (8:45) / The Night Will Fall (9:28)

Tomas Bodin - keyboards
Jonas Reingold - bass
Zoltan Csörsz - drums
Anders Jansson - lead vocals
Jocke JJ Marsh - guitars
Hasse Bruniusson - percussion
Ulf Wallander - sax
Jonas Knutsson - sax
Roine Stolt - guitar
N'Nogo Bjurhall - African scat

An Ordinary Night In My Ordinary Life (2000)
Pinup Guru (2002)
Sonic Boulevard (2003)
I Am (2005)
Cinematograaf (2008)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin SE

Added: September 8th 2003
Reviewer: John "Bobo" Bollenberg

Artist website:
Hits: 820
Language: english


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