Ayreon - The Universal Migrator Part 1: The Dream Sequencer

Year of Release: 2000
Label: Transmission Records / InsideOut Music America
Catalog Number: TM 019 / IOMACD 2015
Format: CD
Total Time: 70:14:00

Told in two parts, Ayreon's Universal Migrator tale is a musical journey through time and space. Disc one, The Dream Sequencer is the symphonic prog side of Arjen Lucassen's theme, where the music often takes on very Pink Floyd-like atmospheres. "My House On Mars" sounds, at times, like it could have easily been on The Wall but for some of the lyrical content; vocals here are by Johan Edlund (Tiamat) and Floor Jansen (After Forever). Except for the vocal-less solo passages, the track is somewhat plodding, moving just a bit to slowly. Perhaps it's Edlund's treated vocals that bother me a little bit about this track, though Jansen's are clear and lilting. With the opening track, "The Dream Sequencer," we get spacey keyboard themes laying a foundation for Lucassen's guitar solos and synth melodies.

Like on previous Ayreon releases, there are guest musicians and vocalists each telling a part of the story. The vocalists whose performances stand out for me are Lana Lane, Damien Wilson and Neal Morse. In fact, the Morse/Erik Norlander/Lucassen penned "The First Men On Earth" contains more than a little element of Spock's Beard, not just because of Morse's recognizable voice, but also in something about the arrangement and delivery - just a bit off-kilter. Which also tells you that there is also a strong Beatles-esque feel to this track, too ... including some brass that made me think of Sgt. Pepper's. Oddly enough, I think of the Flower Kings, too, and think that this is what I was expecting from Transatlantic.

Lane's haunting vocals grace "2084" and "Dragon On The Sea," tracks 3 and 6 respectively. What a great voice! Rich, warm, full-bodied ... makes you wonder what she'd do with the phone book, ya know; each address would echo in your mind ... It is also Lane who first guides us into the story, as she voices the Universal Migrator program/contraption.

"One Small Step," track four, reminded me a little bit of Rush's own "Countdown" and not just because you can hear "space chatter" in the background. There is a driving, throbbing beat to it - perhaps mimicking that very countdown. But, I also thought of Tangerine Dream because of the long synth intro. Edward Reekers voices this track, a man's impressions about the 1969 Moon landing (and Lana provides some backing "ahhs,"). There are parts here where I also thought of "Comfortably Numb" ... if it been on Dark Side Of The Moon. Can't really explain that except that there are pulsing synths and percussion that hint at Dark Side.... We also get some parping keys from Norlander, another emotional and soaring solo from Lucassen, and heavenly vocal accents from Lane. Reeker's is another vocalist who got a very, very listenable voice, smooth and very warm.

Almost moving away from Floydian musiscapes, we get "The Shooting Company Of Captain Frans B. Cocq," and Bobo is right about Mouse (Tuesday Child) sounding like John Lennon. But more than that, his delivery and the keyboards here make a very slight reference to "Strawberry Fields." A guitar phrase hints at "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds." And yet there is no getting away from the Floydian guitar solos (not that I want to) ... there are also moments where I thought of "Us And Them," but only briefly. The setting for this moment in time is the 17th Century.

It's the 16th Century in "Dragon On The Sea," where "Queen Elizabeth [has sent] the brave Sir Francis Drake to defend the English realm against the invading armada." That Armada was the Spanish Armada, sent by Phillip II with hopes of conquering England, who had "horned in on" their trade routes. Because the English had built smaller, faster and more maneuverable ships that could also fire from a longer range (and some nasty North Sea weather) assured an English victory ... thus "Dragon On The Sea." But the lyrics here seem to be a mesh of the English and Spanish point of views ... or just very confusing. More great stuff from Lane. If Spears or Aguilera win a Grammy (if they're even nominated, as I'm not really paying attention) then I'll certainly demand a recount. As I verily say: in a sing off, the young gals would pack their bags and head home, thinking about what other career they'd best suited to. And, as I keep saying, I'm not often given to such hyperbole, but I'll do so time and again, I think, with Lane ... and on the male vox side, Wilson (of those that appear here).

We leap further back to the 8th Century Mayan Civilization in "Temple Of The King," sung by Jacqueline Govaert, who has an okay voice ... if just a bit childlike at times. Bubble like synths open "Carried By The Wind," which soon rocks a bit harder than anything else on this album though it still maintains its symphonic feel. Lucassen handles the vocals on this track, which is very appropriate, as it is meant to be Ayreon in the 6th Century - the so-called "Dark Ages."

But our journey doesn't end here, as we travel back to 2800 B.C., the Druids and the enigmatic Stonehenge in "And The Druids Turn To Stone," sung by a melancholy and restrained Damien Wilson. Beautiful arrangement, Wilson's vocals are warm. The track breaks for an tender and thoughtful acoustic guitar solo, breaks again after a few more vocal passages for spacey synth ... and then ends with a moment of near silence ... stillness, where only the sounds of nature (crickets) can be heard. After "First Man," we get "The Dream Sequencer Reprise." (and then to Part II).

The Dream Sequencer (5:08) / My House On Mars (7:49) / 2084 (7:42) / One Small Step (8:46) / The Shooting Company Of Captain Frans B Cocq (7:57) / Dragon On The Sea (7:09) / Temple Of The Cat (4:11) / Carried By The Wind (3:59) / And The Druids Turn To Stone (6:36) / The First Man On Earth (7:19) / The Dream Sequencer Reprise (3:36)

Arjen Lucassen - electric and acoustic guitars, bass guitar, analogue synthesizers, Hammond, Mellotron and additional keyboards; vocals (8)
Erik Norlander (Ritual Symphony, Rocket Scientists, Lana Lane) - analogue synthesizers, piano, vocoder, Hammond and additional keyboards (synth solos: 1, 4, 6)
Rob Snijders (Celestion Season) - drums
Clive Nolan (Arena, Pendragon) - synth solo (3)
Johan Edlund (Tiamat) - vocals (2)
Floor Jansen (After Forever) - vocals (2)
Lana Lane - vocals (3, 6), backing vocals (4, 5) and voice (1)
Edward Reekers (Kayak) - vocals (4)
Mouse (Tuesday Child) - vocals (5)
Jacqueline Govaert (Krezip) - vocals (7)
Damian Wilson (Threshold, Landmarq) - vocals
Neal Morse (Spock's Beard, Transatlantic) - vocals (10)
Mark McCrite (Rocket Scientists) - backing vocals (10)

Ayreon - The Final Experiment (1995)
Ayreon - Actual Fantasy (1996)
Ayreon - Into The Electric Castle (1998)
Ayreon - The Univeral Migrator Part 1: The Dream Sequencer (2000)
Ayreon - The Universal Migrator Part 2: Flight Of The Migrator (2000)
Ayreon - Ayreonnauts Only (2000)
Ambeon - Fate Of A Dreamer (2001)
Arjen Anthony Lucassen's Star One - Space Metal (2002)
Arjen Anthony Lucassen's Star One - Live On Earth (2003)
Ayreon - The Human Equation (2004)
Ayreon - Actual Fantasy Revisited (2004)
Ayreon - The Final Experiment - Special Edition (2005)
Ayreon - 01011001 (2008)
Ayreon - Timeline (2008)
Arjen Lucassen's Guilt Machine - Arjen Lucassen's Guilt Machine (2009)
Arjen Anthony Lucassen's Star One - Victims Of The Modern Age (2010)
Arjen Anthony Lucassen - Lost In The New Real (2012)
Ayreon - The Theory Of Everything (2013)
Ayreon - The Theater Equation (CD/DVD) (2016)
Ayreon - The Source (CD/DVD) (2017)
Ayreon - Ayreon Universe - Best Of Ayreon Live (2018)

Ayreon - The Theater Equation (BR) (2016) Ayreon - Ayreon Universe - Best Of Ayreon Live (DVD/BR) (2018)

Genre: Symphonic Prog

Origin NL

Added: January 30th 2001
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website: www.ayreon.com
Hits: 1407
Language: english


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