How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
As if trying to prove that EVERY member of the top-notch Swedish prog band The Flower Kings is blessed with more talent than should be allowed, keyboardist Tomas Bodin has decided to strike off on his own with An Ordinary Night in my Ordinary Life - a showcase of quality compositional skills and home of some of the hippest keyboard stylings you'll ever want to hear. Bodin is not alone however, he's joined by familiar pals Roine Stolt on guitar, Jaime Salazar on drums, and newcomer Owe Eriksson on most of the bass duties (Roine and his brother Michael also kick in some bass work for the album). The personnel line up make this sort of an "alternate universe" Flower Kings release, albeit one with Tomas Bodin and the keyboards take a lead role, and Roine Stolt's guitar plays second fiddle. In the end, the result are nothing short of fantastic, as Bodin explores musical styles ranging from the funeral dirge-like church music of "Daddy in the Clouds" to avant-garde experimentalism with "An Ordinary Nightmare in Poor Mr. Hope's Ordinary Life" (complete with a voice chanting "Number Ten" over and over) to what can only be described as "jungle-fusion" with "The Magic Rollercoaster". Bodin is all over the musical map, and his styles work on every level.
Bodin compositional prowess is at center stage here, as he deftly moves from style to style without seeming to even break a sweat. While he does break into some killer keyboard chops from time to time, it's obvious that he's professional enough to show restraint and allow the other musicians to contribute to the songs as well. After all, when you've got Stolt and Salazar backing you up, you LET THEM PLAY! And play they do, with Stolt contributing some incredible guitar work (did you expect anything less?) and Salazar flying all around his drumkit with both reckless abandon and pinpoint precision at the same time. Stolt REALLY shines in the middle of Bodin's brilliant 17-minute epic "Three Stories," counterbalancing Bodin's beautiful piano work with some incredibly emotional guitar work that seems to patch directly to your soul (as Stolt's work often does). Bodin and Stolt also score a major victory with "In the Land of the Pumpkins," which combines standard progressive sounds with excellent piano passages and some furious fusion to create a song that will stick in your head like white on rice. But perhaps the most impressive musical moment of the CD comes not from familiar faces such as Bodin or Stolt, but from bassist Owe Eriksson who simply BLOWS THE LIGHTS OUT with his bass licks on "The Magic Rollercoaster". His wonderful interplay with drummer Salazar on this cut is something that simply must be heard to be believed.
Despite all the praises I have to the boys in the band, the ultimate kudos must go to Tomas Bodin who has shown that he has compositional talent that rivals that of Flower Kings leader Stolt. Perhaps future releases from The Flower Kings will showcase more of Bodin's writing as well as his always solid keyboard playing. However, if this does not come to pass, I very much look forward to any future solo efforts put forth by this very talented musician.
Track Listing: 1. Entering the Spacebike (1:28), 2. Into the Dreamscape (9:41), 3. The Ballerina From Far Beyond (7:37), 4. Daddy in the Clouds (3:57), 5. Speed Wizard (5:34), 6. An Ordinary Nightmare in Poor Mr. Hope's Ordinary Life (5:54), 7. In the Land of the Pumpkins (9:06), 8. The Magic Rollercoaster (3:07), 9. The Gathering (3:02), 10. Three Stories (i. Samuel-The Knight, ii. Adam-The Prophet, iii. Miranda-The Queen) (16:41)