Ayreon - Actual Fantasy Revisited

Year of Release: 2004
Label: InsideOut Music
Catalog Number: SPV 087-40662 / IOMCD 194
Format: CD
Total Time: 79:55:00

If you take a painting by any artist, will you, after some time, paint extra items on the canvas to make it more up-to-date? It?s that kind of question which puzzles me, seeing Ayreon's second album re-released after such a short space of time. I fully agree that at the time of recording, budgets were very limited, forcing Arjen to use a drum computer and to also play the bass parts. But is it financially sane to re-record large chunks of this album? Many albums stand or fall by means of their drummer. Once this mega important vacancy is taken over by a drum computer there's no way the result will get the full thumbs up it deserves. That's why we have to see this newly released version of Ayreon's Actual Fantasy as almost a brand new album, as that clinical drum computer has now been replaced by the flesh and blood of Ayreon's very own drum machine Ed Warby. Looking at the entire Ayreon output so far, it has to be said that Ed Warby has become a very important part of the Ayreon sound. So now this project has reached many more music lovers over the years, I understand Arjen's wish to re-release this album, which now probably sounds the way he initially intended it to sound. Also Peter Vink now plays all of the bass parts, whilst certain guitar solos have been re-recorded in order to sound more up-to-date, to have more punch.

Needless to say, Ed's contribution puts a lot of extra spice into the music, whilst it all falls much better into place, resulting in a very detailed production. Although the original recordings took place in 1995, to my ears the acoustic contents of "The Stranger From Within" get very close to the feel of "Congo" from the Genesis album Calling All Stations, as released in 1997. Also I feel that parts of "The Dawn Of Man" remind me heavily of the ending of Yes' "Starship Trooper." Prior to this release, Actual Fantasy to my ears didn't really fit in with the rest of the material. Now it does.

Fans who already got the early version of the album will not be disappointed, as an amount of interesting extras have been added on the accompanying DVD. First of all there's the animated video for "The Stranger From Within," which comes both in a 5.1 and 2.0 mix. You also get to hear the full 2004 version of the entire album in a stunning 5.1 mix with added visuals. In an extra featurette, Arjen gives an insight into the "why" of it all, illustrating the replacement of a more psychedelic guitar part on the initial release by a heavier more "in your face" riff. The guitarists amongst you will also be interested to know Arjen explains how he obtains certain sounds, showing you step by step what you have to do. And if you didn't get the 1996 version of Actual Fantasy the first time around, it is also fully included here. So, in the end, looking at the hard work that went into this new recording (Arjen lost certain midi info, all of the clicktrack, certain effects), the Actual Fantasy Revisited package certainly is not a quick cash-in. Of course Ayreon fans would like to get their hands on brand new material, but knowing it takes a couple of years before a new album gets to see the light of day, this most certainly is a nice addition to anyone's record collection. Now all we can do is hope for The Final Experiment to be given the same treatment!

Actual Fantasy / Abbey of Synn / The Stranger from Within / Computer Eyes / Beyond the Last Horizon / Far Side of the World / Back on Planet Earth / Forevermore / The Dawn of Man

Bonus DVD: Actual Fantasy Revisited 2004 - 5.1 Surround Mix / Actual Fantasy 1996 - original version / Video clip The Stranger from Within - 5.1 & 2.0 / Featurette: Recording drums, bass and guitar 2004

Arjen Lucassen - guitars, keyboards, banjo, bass, Hammond, harpsichord, lute, mandolin, Mellotron, Mini-moog, vocals
Cleem Determeijer - keyboards, piano, synths
Edward Reekers - vocals
Okkie Huysdens - vocals
Ren? Merkelbach - Hammond, harpsichord, keyboards
Robert Soeterboek - vocals
Peter Vink - bass
Ewa Alberink - flute

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: February 19th 2005
Reviewer: John "Bobo" Bollenberg

Artist website: www.ayreon.com
Hits: 1592
Language: english


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