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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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Ayreonauts Only
Image © 2000 Transmission Records

Astrid van der Veen
Astrid van der Veen (website)
Image © 2001 Transmission Records

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

(06 June 2001) Released as a limited edition album with thehealth warning-"This is not a new Ayreon album. It containsunreleased versions of known Ayreon songs, home demos and newlyrecorded songs, sung by different singers"-the latest Ayreonrecording Ayreonauts Only (Transmission Records (Holland)TM-027, 2000) is a masterpiece. As a preview to his releasewith Astrid van der Veen and the Ambeon (review) project, Arjen Anthony Lucassen included two of the first tracks he recorded with her. A variety of other notable guests grace the album'seleven tracks.

Four alternate and more melodic versions of tracks from Flight Of The Migrator (review) resulting fromArjen's Los Angeles visit during the album's initial sessionsare included. "Into the Black Hole" features vocals by Damian Wilson and Lana Lane with additional synth solos by Erik Norlander and Clive Nolan. "Out of the White Hole" is sung by RobertSoeterboek and has additional synth solos by Erik Norlanderwhile the everso lush "Through the Wormhole" features lead vocals by Ian Parry with backing vocals by Fabio Lione and Lana Lane. The 'amazing' guitar and synth solo by GaryeonWehrkemp (hmmm?) during the bridge is just that! The 1992 of "Carpe Diem (Chaos)" blending Arjen Lucassen's guitar and synth work is superb.

Astrid van der Veen makes her initial appearance on the albumin her special interpretation of "Temple of the Cat" originallyreleased with Jacqueline Govaert's lead vocals on The Dream Sequencer (review). Sensually sung in every respect, accompanied only by acoustic guitar and light synth arrangements performed by Arjen Lucassen, Astrid's stunning lead and backing harmony vocals create a sweeter rendition of this tremendous progressive-oriented ballad. Arjen wrote, "This is the way I wanted this song to sound." It isalmost inconceivable from the maturity of her vocal delivery that Astrid was only 14 when the track was recorded.

A previously unreleased medley of the Beatlesque "OriginalHippie's Amazing Trip" with vocals by Mouse, Anneke vanGiersbergen (The Gathering) and Edward Reekers, piano by Robby Valentine and Hammond by Roland Bakker supporting Arjen Lucassen is especially enjoyable. Arjen reported that original Hippie vocals by Mouse were lost when Into The Electric Castle was being created but were recovered later and appear for the first time here. The blend of instrumentals, male and female vocals works extremely well.

A brand new version of "Beyond The Last Horizon" originallyfrom Actual Fantasy sung by Gary Hughes includes drumsby Stephan van Haestreght (Ambeon) and tremendous harmonyBeatlesque-style backing vocals supported Arjen's re-recordingsof the other instruments. A harder version of "Eyes of Time"originally thought as 'too over the top' for The FinalExperiment but suitable for the "Sail Away To Avalon"single is included. It is vocally quite different, with an almost Tina Turner-sounding lead, but has a keyboard solo during the instrumental bridge that is incredible.

Home demo versions from 1994 of "The Charm of The Seer" and the Beatlesque "Nature's Dance" later released on The Final Experiment are both sung extremely well and lushly accompanied by Arjen Lucassen on keyboard, guitar and drum computer. These are wonderful commemorative of the artist's progressive rock talent and overall strength.

Ayreonauts Only concludes with the signature Ambeontrack "Cold Metal" with lead and harmony backing vocals sung by Astrid van der Veen. A stunning track in every respect-instrumentally as well as vocally-it must be heard tobe completely appreciated. Signficant soundbites of the projetare available at Astrid's website (disographie). You can order Ayreonauts Only from amazon.comhere and the Ambeon album Fate of a Dreamer from amazon.comhere. Clearly both worth a trans-Atlantic journey, these albumsare both a must listen!

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