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Toomas Vanem - I Award winner

Toomas Vanem
by Dorin Mandelbaum at 04 August 2014, 9:20 PM

TOOMAS VANEM’s debut album “I”, is exactly the kind of album I hope and yearn that will get the recognition it deserves.

“I” is a lovely masterful instrumental album by TOOMAS VANEM, an Estonian guitarist that knows what he’s doing and does it amazingly.

This album is a gem, the style of it is a great mix of Prog Metal, Fusion, Jazz Rock and even a bit of Latin. All JOE SATRIANI, DREAM THEATER, PAT METHENY, STEVE VAI fans are up for a treat listening to this baby (Another lesser known band that TOOMAS VANEM reminded me of is

RESIDENTS OF THE FUTURE a Fusion Prog Rock band that Metal-Temple reviewed earlier this year in March If you don’t know them you should check them out too).

Occasionally, I criticize “overplaying” or what I like to call “guitar masturbation”, what it means for me is when a guitar player plays “too many notes very fast”. The main reason I don’t like it is because I experience it as an attempt to prioritize showing off prowess and high guitar skill abilities over handing out great music to the listener. In the case of TOOMAS VANEM’s “I”, I can’t share this kind of criticism about any of the tracks of the album although he does tend to play fast and crowdedly, the reason is because each tune and each note was well thought of and has an important role in the overall message of his music, just like a script.

Moreover, I can only applaud this type of composing, one that makes rich guitar parts seem delicate and accurate when listened and observed as part of the overall sound of each track.

The main thing giving this feeling is that these tracks are composed very much like a song, with a strong hook line that is very memorable audibly, to the point that you want to sing the guitar part as if it was a song’s chorus. Composing instrumental music this way keeps the material very communicative and approachable and therefore very easy to get hooked on easily. The last few days I woke up singing “Flower Power” and nothing felt weird to me about it though there are no lyrics. The best part about it is that it doesn’t make the music any less complex or of high quality composing, vice versa, it allows the listener an option to enjoy the parts in between where the message of the guitar becomes more complex and starts playing around the main theme, or even give us new ideas, refreshing the ear of the enjoyable melody we became familiarized with from before.

This is why I enjoyed this album so much, because when you can create such perfect balance between communicativeness and complexity you truly make magic with instrumental music, the same way Bach, Beethoven or Mozart did.

Last but not least, I need to mention the fantastic tightness and musicality of the rest of his band members, Andrus Lillepea is a skillful drummer able to play many different styles with amazing accuracy and maintain the rhythmic foundations Toomas’ compositions require. Henno Kelp has an amazing “fat” bass sound, a grounded rhythmic feel in his playing and wonderful gentle bass slaps that give coloring to the overall sound.

This album is definitely one I’ll take with me to a lonely island.

5 Star Rating

1. Tomorrow’s Child
2. Lonely Proton
3. Ghost Story
4. Operation S.S.E.S
5. Birthday Illusions
6. Summer Samba
7. Orbital Man
8. Attack of the Killer Honey Bee
9. Gravity of Eiffel Tower
10. Flower Power
11. Butterfly Effect
Toomas Vanem - Guitars
Andrus Lillepea - Drums
Henno Kelp - Bass

Guest appearance:
Stuart Hamm - Bass
Record Label: Independent


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Edited 24 September 2021

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