Toomas Vanem – I

Toomas Vanem - I

Toomas Vanem is an estonian guitarist with a proven experience in musical industry. On his first solo album, aptly named I, he plays in a fast and subtle way akin to the guitar heroes of the eighties, be they in rock/metal music like Jason Becker, or in jazz like Mike Stern. Backed by two creative musicians, bassist Henno Kelp and drummer Andrus Lillepea, he uses his dexterity to create dynamic instrumental songs within the realms of jazz-rock and metal.

The album presents a few marching instrumental anthems. Let’s cite the futuristic Tomorrow’s Child, where cosmic keys and menacing rhythm guitars make it the perfect OST to a Star Wars episode. Elsewhere, the alarmed Ghost Story and its Middle-Eastern flavoured breaks, or even the prudent Operation S.S.E.S, bearing echoes of Led Zeppelin‘s Kashmir, bring some more marching rhythms.  Besides, the aquatic Birthday Illusions sounds like a vibrant  tribute to Eddie Van Halen with its spectral riff reminiscent of the overture to Ain’t Talking About Love. Other amazing guitar solos can be witnessed on the catchy songs Orbital Man, with its wink to spanish folklore in the bridge, and Butterfly Effect where the main riff and the galloping synths bring to mind Saga, another band the guitar wizard used to listen to. The touching balad Flower Power shows a sensitive side of our guitarist. Furthermore, similarly to Nikolaï Rimski-Korsakov with his bumblebees, Toomas gives us headaches with his honey bees. Having grown up with the music of Spyro Gyra, it’s no wonder that Toomas colours his musical world with exotic jazz-rock tunes. In this league, the rhythmic Lonely Proton, the refreshing Summer Samba and the dreamy Gravity Of Eiffel Tower (with none other other than Stuart Hamm to deliver the thoughtful bass lines) are real stunners. Being a talented musician, Toomas is able to create various moods and expressions through his instrument. The guitar can be indeed in a singing mood on Operation S.S.E.S, or jubilating on Birthday Illusions. But it can also be laughing on the vivid Orbital Man, mesmerizing on the dizzying Attack Of The Killer Honey Bees, crying on the touching Flower Power, or even haunting on the mischievous Butterfly Effect.

I is an album of pure guitar brilliance, that certainly deserves a place in the discography of any serious guitar lover. It’s played with a lot of passion and prowess, and, since its title suggests that a follow-up should be expected, every effort should be made to support its genitor.


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

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