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Current concise reviews of the albums by adult alternative, contemporary, and crossover artists. Images of album artwork and links to both internet-based resources are always included. Click on the title to view the article.

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The Dream Sequencer
Image © 2001\r\n\r\nInsideOut Music

The Story

On Universal Migrator, Arjen picks up the thread in the 22nd century. More than a hundred years have passed since the last world war destroyed all live on the planet earth, in precisely the same manner as foretold by the leading character Ayreon in the sixth century (from The Final Experiment, the first Ayreon album). Colonists were on Mars during that struggle, from where they observed the annihilation of earth from a remote distance. For years they were able to survive with the supplies they had brought with them. But the stocks, now depleted and none of the colonists have survived except the main figure of the Dream Sequencer. The sole survivor, a child of one of the original Mars colonists, he has never set foot on earth.

To make the tedious life at Mars a little more bearable, clever technicians designed the Dream Sequencer, a machine that enables them to travel back under hypnosis to their own childhood, and to lives before that; their pre-incarnations. In this way the main figure witnesses the first landing on the moon in 1969. he was a standard-bearer in the famous Rembrandt picture The Night Watch (17th century), he appears to be a reincarnation of Ayreon (6th century), he was present when Stonehenge was built (2,300 BC) and once, in the mists of time, he wsa the first (erect) human being on earth (50,000 BC). His wanderings are musically accompanied by mellow and atmospheric sounds.

On the previous Ayreon album, Into the Electric Castle there's a distinct opera-like structure in which the main figures react to one another within the same song. This time Arjen opted for a different approach. Each and every male and female singer has his or own song. As a result of this each new figure has its own distinct character.

More Arjen Anthony Lucassen
Live On Earth
Space Metal
Ayreonauts Only
Flight Of The Migrator
The Dream Sequencer
Fate Of A Dreamer

(14 April 2001) The latest project from Arjen Anthony Lucassen is a two album Ayreon set entitled Universal Migrator. The first album, entitled The Dream Sequencer (Transmission Records (Holland)TM-019, 2000 and InsideOut Music America (USA) IOMACD 2015, 2000), for the greater part contains subdued, atmospheric progressive songs with female vocal contributions by a broad variety of artists familiar to Musical Discoveries' readers. The second, Flight of the Migrator (Transmission TM-020 and InsideOut IOMA2016) is filled with pulverizing metal songs.

Each album has its own concept and individual character and are natural follow-ons to the two-CD Ayreon rock opera Into The Electric Castle (Transmission TM-014, 1998). Further details on thealbums' concepts, characters and artist contributions are readily available at Ayreon's website.

An album of rare alternative mixes and bonus tracks emerged after the Universal Migrator set was released. Entitled Ayreonauts Only (Transmission TM-027, 2001), the eleven-track compact disc includes two tracks by Arjen with Astrid van der Veen, a new and amazing female vocalist, with the track "Cold Metal" being from his forthcoming Ambeon project. A review of Ayreonauts Only and this new compact disc will be posted here soon.

A spacy narration by the machine opens The Dream Sequencer album. With a running time exceeding 70 minutes, richly produced with lush progressive arrangements, the album alsofeatures stunning female vocal contributions. Floor Jansen (After Forever [feature]) provides a lovely backing vocal supporting Johan Edlund in "My House On Mars."Lana Lane (feature)sings the stunning progressive ballad "2084." Thelovely and highly memorable track "One Small Step" tells the story of the first lunar landing; lead vocals are by EdwardReekers and backing harmonies are by a choir comprised of the album's female vocalists.

The instrumental melody in "The Shooting Company Of Captain Frans B. Coco" is balanced between guitar and keyboard parts. Beatlesque-style vocals by Mouse add a lovely texture to the spacy texture of the track. Written by Erik Norlander, the symphonic "Dragon On The Sea," with its lush keyboard arrangement and stunning acoustic guitar part, is a 'classic' Lana Lane ballad. Powerful vocals lead vocals soar well above the instrumentals in the verses; the choruses are full of lush vocal harmonies.

"Temple Of The Cat" is very clearly one of the standouttracks on the album. Sweetly sung by Jacqueline Govaert (from theDutch punk band Krezip) over an acoustically light keyboard orchestral arrangement, vocal harmonies provide a lovely texture to the everso sweet ballad. Arjen sings the lead vocal part on "Carried By TheWind," a short but melodic progressive track featuring complimentaryguitar and keyboard work. Damian Wilson's powerful and evocativevocals—typified by his former work with Landmarq, Threshold and Ayreon—soar in the theatrical style ballad "And the Druids Turn To Stone." Arjen's guitar solo mid-track and shimmering Hammond organ parts are tremendous.

"The First Man on Earth" is sung by Neal Morse (Spock's Beard)very much in a Beatlesque style with lush processional style keyboards being complimented by acoustic and electric guitar. Layers of harmony vocals by Rocket Scientist Mark McCrite add texture in the track's choruses. Highly accessible and orchestral,the epic track—complete with dramatic guitar and keyboard solos—is certain to delight a broad range of audiences. The album concludes with a gently dramatic—yet spacy—instrumental entitled "The Dream Sequencer Reprise."

The first collection of this new set from Ayreon is a a superb song-based progressive rock masterwork and certainly is fitting as the next installment from Mr Lucassen. Whilst only four of the eleven tracks feature female vocalists, Arjen's passion for their inclusion remains evident. Check out the soundbites on the web. Worth a trans-Atlantic journey, this album is certainly a must listen!

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