Author Topic: Arjen Lucassen Discography Thread v. A moment lost in time  (Read 8875 times)

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Offline Evermind

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It was literally just Evermind, 425 and me :lol

Yeah, this, and it was a lot of fun still, at least for me.

I would be up for another listening session for THE tomorrow (Wednesday), starting at either 8 or 9 P.M.

Offline twosuitsluke

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I should be able to participate in that. Maybe not for the whole session but hopefully for most of it.

Offline home

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I should be able to join to if nothing unexpected happens.
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Offline home

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So is another listening session happening today? :azn:
Break the mold, let's shake the ground, wreak havoc!

Offline Evermind

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I will be in Ayreon Listening Sessions plug.dj room from 7.30 P.M. GMT onwards. If at least three more people will come until 9 P.M. GMT, I guess yeah, we'll do another listening session. :tup

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I'm going to do my best to be there  :biggrin:

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I think I won't be able to get there, again :/
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Offline Evermind

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No no, I actually fucked up the time, sorry. It's 5.30 GMT right now and I'm in. The listening session should begin at 7 P.M. GMT (usual time).

Edit: sent a round of PMs to people interested.

Offline Evermind

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I know we have huge gaps between posts in this thread, but still, I wanted to remind everyone that this thread hasn't died or anything. I was away due to the holidays, but now I'm reasonably sure that Embrace the Storm writeup will go up this week. I wanted to remind anyone who is interested that the next listening session will be hosted at January 9th.

Offline Evermind

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Re: Arjen Lucassen Discography Thread v. Life, the finest thread, wears easily
« Reply #184 on: January 08, 2017, 07:41:21 AM »
Stream of Passion — Embrace the Storm (2005)




Release date: 2005
Length: 53:45


Tracklist:

1. Spellbound
2. Passion
3. Deceiver
4. I’ll Keep on Dreaming
5. Haunted
6. Wherever You Are
7. Open Your Eyes
8. Embrace the Storm
9. Breathing Again
10. Out in the Real World
11. Nostalgia
12. Calliopeia

Personnel:

Band members:

Arjen Anthony Lucassen — guitars, keyboards
Marcela Bovio — lead vocals, backing vocals, violin
Lori Linstruth — guitars
Johan van Stratum — bass
Alejandro Millán — piano
Davy Mickers — drums

Additional musicians:

Robert Baba, Jenneke Tesselaar, Herrman van Haaren, Friedmar Hitzer — violins
Marieke van der Heyden, Tjakina Oosting, Jacqueline Hamelink — celli



Background / Writing and recording

Much like how he took a break after releasing two Universal Migrator albums by working on the Ambeon and Star One side projects, Arjen didn’t immediately start writing for new Ayreon record after releasing the critically acclaimed The Human Equation. He opted to collaborate with one of the singers present on that album, Marcela Bovio, a female singer from Mexico, who earned her place in The Human Equation lineup by winning the online contest Arjen organized in search of young singer talents. In the interviews, Arjen often mentioned that he was extremely fond of Marcela’s performance as Wife on The Human Equation, but he also felt that she was restricted by being required to sing Arjen’s melodies and lyrics instead of her own. As a result, Stream of Passion was born.

More precisely, the initial idea, as Arjen envisioned it, was to put out an acoustic album either as a new project or under Marcela’s name. He used a few ideas left from The Human Equation, wrote a few more ideas and riffs—all on acoustic guitar—and sent them to Marcela, who was living in her home country, Mexico, at the time. She would write her melodies and lyrics over them and send it back, and that’s how the work on the new record went on for a time. Arjen then would add instrumentation to the sketches of songs they had; somewhere along the way, the album naturally evolved from purely acoustic to heavier, more rock- and metal-oriented. When they had enough ideas and material, Arjen asked Marcela about the nature of this project, and she suggested forming a band for the upcoming album and going on tour—with Arjen’s involvement, they could also fill the gaps in the setlist with Ayreon songs, since the material from the album wouldn’t be enough. She also suggested picking musicians that weren’t famous at the time, to give them more exposure and experience playing live with a band.

Music

Embrace the Storm is probably one of the least Ayreon-sounding albums among all the records for which Arjen wrote music. The vocal melodies and lyrics written by Marcela make this album a lot different from Ayreon, being more intimate, emotional and personal, but there’s also the matter of Arjen aiming for a different sound, cutting the amount of synthesizers and using a real piano instead (played by Marcela’s boyfriend at the time, Alejandro Millán). The difference between Embrace the Storm and Ayreon is also enhanced by the nature of music on this record—somber, haunting and dark in places. The combination of all these factors makes this album quite unique in the context of Arjen’s output over the years.

The music, the lyrics and Marcela’s haunting voice complement each other beautifully, and the presence of additional violins and celli adds a whole other layer to this album, bringing it into something like symphonic progressive gothic metal department, as far as genres go. The album is mostly dramatic and filled with tension, and when the tension gets released in the passionate, climactic moments like in choruses of Passion and Haunted, it makes listening to the album an even more satisfying experience. Most lyrics are written in English, although there are some Spanish lyrics on the album, written by Marcela at Arjen’s suggestion. Another thing that inevitably grabs listeners’ attention on this record is the guitar solos, performed by Arjen and Lori Linstruth—we’ll see her appear on other Arjen’s projects later on.

All three Arjen’s side projects featuring only female singers ended up being so different genre-wise. Ambeon’s Fate of a Dreamer was closer to pop-rock ambient genre due to songs being stripped down to the bone and Astrid’s adventurous voice and her vocal delivery; The Gentle Storm’s The Diary (released in 2015) is closer to a folk record with a lot of flute and violin present on the record, and very organic and clean sound overall (at least if you consider Gentle disc of that record); and Embrace the Storm sounds like Arjen’s and Marcela’s attempt on writing dark symphonic metal, and while the album delves into more genres along the way, one could say the attempt was successful.

Live in the Real World / Future of the band

The band embarked on tour called Live in the Real World (named after one of the album’s tracks, Out in the Real World) in January 2006, playing in the number of Western European countries like Netherlands, Germany, France, Belgium and a few more. The setlist featured a lot of Stream of Passion songs, along with Ayreon songs like Computer Eyes, Valley of the Queens, Day Three: Pain, Day Eleven: Love, Into the Black Hole and a few more. The band also played a Star One cover, and, curiously, a cover of Led Zeppelin’s When the Levee Breaks. The backing vocals on the show were provided by Marcela’s sister, Diana.

After the tour concluded in 2007 with two cancelled UK dates, Arjen left the band to continue on his own projects. There were no hard feelings between both sides, because Arjen always said he would be there for one album and subsequent tour, and after that he could give no promises—his original intention was to get the band off the ground and then focus on his own music. Later that year, Lori Linstruth and Alejandro Millán also called it quits, but the band found replacements and went on to release The Flame Within in 2009, Darker Days in 2011 and A War of Our Own in 2014 (this album was financed by a crowdfunding campaign). A War of Our Own ended up being the last album by the band. Stream of Passion disbanded at the end of 2016 after performing their final farewell gig on December 28th in Utrecht, Netherlands.

My Thoughts

While I can’t say this album is fantastic, it’s certainly one of the most interesting of Arjen’s non-Ayreon records, rivaled only by Guilt Machine in terms of novelty and unexpectedness, as far as I’m concerned. Of course, it’s not strictly his side project, because it’s a full band effort for a change, but still, I tend to view it as one of Arjen’s brainchildren.

I also can’t compare it to other Arjen’s side projects, because they’re all rooted in different genres. Star One offers us hard rock and heavy metal, Guilt Machine is brooding, atmospheric and progressive, The Gentle Storm is folky and natural, Arjen’s solo album is quirky and fun, and Embrace the Storm is emotional, somber and maybe even gothic (although I know Arjen himself doesn’t think it’s gothic, he said “if that’s how people want to label it, so be it.”). But if I had to rank Embrace the Storm among the other albums Arjen released under other monikers, I’d say it’s certainly above his solo work and Ambeon, and certainly below both Star One efforts and The Gentle Storm album; probably somewhere in the middle with Guilt Machine. This means, this album is pretty damn good, in my opinion.

That’s not to say it doesn’t have flaws, because it certainly does. There are one or two songs I don’t even remember anything from, and there are irritating moments on the record, like the spoken verses on Haunted, but they’re mostly outshined by how many good moments there are on this record. I’m a sucker for string instruments, and the constant—and very appropriate—usage of violins and celli elevates this album, bringing it to another level for me. Marcela’s voice sounds excellent, and melodies like I’m willing to surrender in Passion are what makes this album so good, in my opinion.

This album isn’t something I would recommend anyone to get acquainted with Arjen’s work, but it’s a great introduction to Marcela’s music, and it convinced me to check Stream of Passion further; and while it’s not the greatest music I’ve ever heard, I wasn’t disappointed by their further albums (without Arjen) in the slightest.

Offline Evermind

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Re: Arjen Lucassen Discography Thread v. Life, the finest thread, wears easily
« Reply #185 on: January 08, 2017, 07:44:00 AM »
Embrace the Storm listening session - Monday, January 9th, 7 P.M. GMT!

We continue to run these listening sessions in 2017, and our next one is for Embrace the Storm, the album by Stream of Passion. While the band kept carrying on without Arjen after their first album, Arjen was one of the band's founders and he wrote the music for this album, which is why it's included in this discography thread. Come and check it out!

This session will take place at plug.dj site. To join the room, use the link below.

https://plug.dj/ayreon-listening-sessions

Offline Nick

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Re: Arjen Lucassen Discography Thread v. Life, the finest thread, wears easily
« Reply #186 on: January 08, 2017, 08:16:12 AM »
Ah, Stream of Passion...

Since I became a fan with THE, this marks the first release from Arjen after I became a fan. I was thrilled he was doing something extensive with Marcella as I loved her voice. I appreciated the different approach to the album, and there are quite a few really good tracks on the album. I kinda liken this project from Arjen to Blackfield for Steven Wilson, in how both have to somewhat step back and slow down in what they want to do. I loved that the project got Arjen back out on the stage, and love some of the Ayreon live tunes, especially Computer Eyes. I ended up getting the album, single, and live album all straight from Arjen for this cycle.

Once we go beyond that album though, it's rather downhill sadly. As you said the band had a lot of turnover, with Arjen the biggest obvious piece missing. Darker Days was a step down but alright, and things just got worse with the next two albums. I was fortunate to see them perform at ProgPower for their first and last US show, and while I enjoyed it a lot, they were frankly blown away by the exponentially better The Gentle Storm, despite sharing a few members.

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Offline twosuitsluke

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Re: Arjen Lucassen Discography Thread v. Life, the finest thread, wears easily
« Reply #187 on: January 10, 2017, 02:51:19 AM »
I missed this one  :sadpanda:  but will hopefully make the next one.

I'll try and give this album a listen this week and post my thoughts, this is one Arjen album I've not listened to yet  :corn

 

Offline Train of Naught

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Re: Arjen Lucassen Discography Thread v. Life, the finest thread, wears easily
« Reply #188 on: January 19, 2017, 11:20:20 AM »
I'm binge listening to Ayreon today :lol I've listened to 01010100101010101010101 and The Human Equation (yes, this one again), The Final Experiment (yesterday) and listening to Flight of the Migrator in the DTF plug right now. It's a lot of fun, and The Human Equation especially is really growing on me. 0101 has some amazing songs but not that consistent imo.

Offline Cyclopssss

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Re: Arjen Lucassen Discography Thread v. Life, the finest thread, wears easily
« Reply #189 on: January 20, 2017, 12:36:18 AM »
Forgot to react to Stream of Passion. The Human Equation had just cemented my fandom and I had started visiting the Arjen Anthony Lucassen forum online. It was a fun little community, growing steadily with loads of fun characters. When SOP hit, we were basically all very pleasantly surprised. The album had a lot going for it, great melodies, still heavy riffing, fantastic sound and an increddible lead singer. Pretty much all of the members of the band were pretty actively posting in the forums so, it was easy to connect with them. It didn't take long before I visited SOP concerts and meeting them they were all very nice people and easy to get along with. Although rumours of Arjen's divorce and health problems were already spreading before the (short) tour was over. A fan-meet was organised in Zeist and on the forum the idea of a tribute band 'Team of Passion' was formed and I joined as one of the vocalists. There were two great female singers as well, one of them being Marjan Welman, later to feature on '0100110etc'. She just blew me away from the start. And she cracks everyone up all the time. We did just two or three short bandrehearsals in Amersfoort and then performed 6 sings at the fanmeet in Zeist, in front of a packed house and with Marcela, Alejandro, Johan and Davy in attendance who came up to us before and after the gig. It was all very loose and relaxed and fun (except for the gig, ahem, nerves!). After that tour they did a short 'european tour' which ended in Brittain and recorded a live dvd, with Damian Wilson as guest performer.
Not long after that, the health rumours about Arjen were confirmed (losing all taste and sense of smell) and he announced his retirement from the band, with Lori, Davy and Alejandro soon following. The band continued with new members, which changed the sound to some degree. My opinion has always been that they were a pretty solid live unit and the three albums they put out after the debut although perhaps lacking the creative spark of Embrace the Storm, are all worth listening to in my opinion.
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Offline Bertielee

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Re: Arjen Lucassen Discography Thread v. Life, the finest thread, wears easily
« Reply #190 on: January 26, 2017, 10:34:15 AM »
New ayreon track featuring JLB, and the singer of Seventh Wonder among others entitled The Day That The World Breaks Down taken from The Source. :

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oFuMKdrzPqU

Awesome track if you ask me.


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Re: Arjen Lucassen Discography Thread v. Life, the finest thread, wears easily
« Reply #191 on: January 26, 2017, 10:43:54 AM »
New ayreon track featuring JLB, and the singer of Seventh Wonder among others entitled The Day That The World Breaks Down taken from The Source. :

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oFuMKdrzPqU

Awesome track if you ask me.


B.Lee

Not a big worry, but this is already being discussed in the main Ayreon thread if you want to hop on over. :D

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Offline Evermind

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Re: Arjen Lucassen Discography Thread v. Life, the finest thread, wears easily
« Reply #192 on: January 26, 2017, 10:57:31 AM »
But thank you for bumping this thread. :biggrin:

I actually finished 01011001 writeup an hour ago and sent it for editing. I think it'll be ready on Sunday.

Offline Bertielee

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Re: Arjen Lucassen Discography Thread v. Life, the finest thread, wears easily
« Reply #193 on: January 26, 2017, 11:06:01 AM »
New ayreon track featuring JLB, and the singer of Seventh Wonder among others entitled The Day That The World Breaks Down taken from The Source. :

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oFuMKdrzPqU

Awesome track if you ask me.


B.Lee

Not a big worry, but this is already being discussed in the main Ayreon thread if you want to hop on over. :D

Shame on me and my lazy ass! :blush  :rollin

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01011001 (2008)




Release date: January 25th, 2008
Length: 102:16


Tracklist:

CD 1 : Y

1. Age of Shadows (incl. We are Forever)
2. Comatose
3. Liquid Eternity
4. Connect the Dots
5. Beneath the Waves
     I. Beneath the Waves
     II. Face the Facts
     III. But a Memory…
     IV. World Without Walls
     V. Reality Bleeds
6. Newborn Race
     I. The Incentive
     II. The Vision
     III. The Procedure
     IV. Another Life
     V. Newborn Race
     VI. The Conclusion
7. Ride the Comet
8. Web of Lies

CD 2: Earth

1. The Fifth Extinction
     I. Glimmer of Hope
     II. World of Tomorrow Dreams
     III. Collision Course
     IV. From the Ashes
     V. Glimmer of Hope (reprise)
2. Waking Dreams
3. The Truth is in Here
4. Unnatural Selection
5. River of Time
6. E=mc²
7. The Sixth Extinction
     I. Echoes on the Wind
     II. Radioactive Grave
     III. 2085
     IV. To the Planet of Red
     V. Spirit on the Wind
     VI. Complete the Circle

Personnel:

Arjen Anthony Lucassen — recording, production, mixing, mastering and all instruments not mentioned in the section below
Jef Bertels — artwork
Felipe Machado Franco — lay-out and illustrations
Simon van Vegten — 3D illustrations for CD1

Vocalists:

Forever:

Tom S. Englund (Evergrey)
Steve Lee (Gotthard)
Daniel Gildenlöw (Pain of Salvation)
Hansi Kürsch (Blind Guardian)
Floor Jansen (Nightwish)
Anneke van Giersbergen (ex-The Gathering, VUUR)
Jonas Renske (Katatonia)
Jorn Lande (Allen/Lande, Masterplan)
Magali Luyten
Bob Catley (Magnum)

Men:

Ty Tabor (King’s X) — an average middle-class worker on “Connect the Dots”
Simone Simons (Epica) — Simone on “Web of Lies”
Phideaux Xavier (Phideaux) — PX on “Web of Lies”
Arjen Anthony Lucassen — Mr. L on “The Truth is in Here” and backing vocals on “Connect the Dots”
Liselotte Hegt (Dial) — Mr. L’s nurse on “The Truth is in Here”
Wudstik — a 21st-century scientist on “E=mc²”
Marjan Welman — a 21st-century scientist on “E=mc²”

Musicians

Ed Warby — drums and percussion
Ben Mathot — violin
David Faber — cello
Jeroen Goossens — flute on “Age of Shadows”, “Comatose”, “Liquid Eternity”, “Beneath the Waves”, “Web of Lies”, “The Truth is in Here”, “Unnatural Selection” and “River of Time”; soprano and tenor recorder or “The Truth is in Here”, bass flute on “Unnatural Selection”, tin whistle on “River of Time”
Lori Linstruth — guitar solo on “Newborn Race”
Derek Sherinian (ex-Dream Theater) — synth solo on “The Fifth Extinction”
Tomas Bodin (The Flower Kings) — synth solo on “Waking Dreams”
Michael Romeo (Symphony X) — guitar solo on “E=mc²”
Joost van den Broek — synth solo and piano on “The Sixth Extinction”



History / Background

The period after the release of Embrace the Storm and before the next Ayreon album was the most difficult and most painful for Arjen. He and his wife went through a divorce, which, in some later interviews, he attributed to him spending most of his time engaged in creating music. In 2007, while going out with Heather Findlay, who performed on The Human Equation, Arjen apparently caught a virus which caused him to suffer from anosmia, a disease which causes the loss of taste and smell. The combination of anosmia and the divorce caused him to fall into a deep depression. Not only that, but his long-time manager decided to pursue her own goals and quit the job. Arjen had to climb out from the deep pit of depression he found himself in, and he did that by pouring his feelings into the music.

After the divorce, he moved into his own house and set up his studio over there, calling it The Electric Garage—which was, admittedly, smaller than The Electric Castle he was recording in previously. He changed his approach to writing music—for The Human Equation, he had most of the ideas before he entered the studio to properly record them; for the new album, he did most of his writing in the studio. He had a difficult time coming up with new material, and all the songs he managed to write turned out to be hopeless and dark. It came to the point he called his label, InsideOut and told them that this time it would be a single Ayreon album, a gloomy and dark one. Still, they gave him the green light for it.

However, during the writing process, musical ideas started popping up that were more uplifting and hopeful in comparison to Arjen’s first written material for the album. The ideas grew into songs, and the album went from single to double. As Arjen repeatedly mentioned in interviews given shortly after the album’s release, the music turned out to be the best healer for him. The album’s mood, while mostly dark and gloomy, was diluted by a few genuinely bright, hopeful moments among the doom, stagnation and hopelessness—the battle of emotions that became sort of a theme for the album.

Singers and musicians / Choosing the characters

That being said, the album’s mood wasn’t that obvious in the choice of singers. A lot of singers performing on this record are well-known by their progressive or power metal bands (Blind Guardian, Pain of Salvation, Evergrey and so on); as Arjen admitted later, he was simply looking for some well-known singers whose voice would give him goosebumps. However, by the time Arjen finished writing the material, he was still struggling with depression. He had no confidence in the material he wrote, and he had no idea how anyone would take it, because this time, more than ever, it came straight from the feelings and thoughts he was harbouring inside. He sent e-mails to some musicians, planning to have his usual amount of nine or ten different singers, but none of them responded for a few weeks. A little bit desperate, Arjen contacted other musicians, and then within a week most of his e-mails received a positive response—so he ended up with 17 different singers on one album.

Note: this information is different from interview to interview, but sometimes Arjen provided this version of events, and sometimes he said he was a bit insecure so he contacted all singers at once, suspecting most of them would reject the invitations—which of course didn’t happen.

All of the above doesn’t mean that Arjen picked the singers spontaneously. Jorn Lande was planned to have the biggest vocal role on the album, and this plan was fulfilled—he’s the most featured singer on the record, and his voice is always instantly recognizable. In interviews, Arjen received questions about Jorn and his willingness to participate in every guest project he was invited to; Arjen responded that if this guy gets so many invitations, he’s probably one of the best singers in the world. However, not all the plans Arjen had for the lineup worked. For example, Roy Khan was actually asked to perform on this album—he never appeared on anything Arjen-related—but he declined, and Daniel Gildenlöw was chosen to sing Khan’s parts.

While there are too many talented and famous singers on this album to describe in full detail, a special mention should be given to the late Steve Lee from Gotthard, the man who once auditioned for Vengeance, Arjen’s band from 80s. Arjen had wanted to collaborate with him ever since he started Ayreon, but it never worked out due to time limitations and other reasons. On this album, the collaboration finally came to life. When Steve Lee came to Arjen’s studio, his manager warned Arjen that Steve can only be featured on four tracks. Steve recorded those four tracks in two hours, and when he was finished, he wanted more parts to sing; Arjen tried to protest, because of what Steve’s manager had said, but Steve insisted, saying something along the lines of “oh, fuck the manager,” and he ended up performing on eight songs. That was one of his last studio performances, along with Gotthard album called Need to Believe, before his death in 2010.

The singers weren’t only performing Arjen’s material—some of them actually wrote their own vocal melodies. Anneke van Giersbergen, who also wrote her own melodies for a few songs on Into the Electric Castle, wrote her parts on Age of Shadows and Waking Dreams, and Jonas Renske from Katatonia wrote all his melodies for the album. The plentiful ad libs on this album, which reflect an unusual approach for Ayreon, were also free for the musicians to improvise.

The huge number of singers on this album resulted in a lack of lengthy passages from the characters, and instead they’re mostly trading one-line responses to each other. While some of the singers have the dramatic, operatic voices that are meant to impress the listener, some of the guests have more ordinary voices... which fits exactly into the plot Arjen wrote for this album.

Plot

The action takes place simultaneously on two planets: Y (which is the planet where the race Forever of the Stars dwells—it’s name could be pronounced as “why?”, and it’s name is also reflected in the album’s name—01011001 is the letter Y in ASCII code); and Earth. While the first CD is called “Y” and the second CD is called “Earth”, there are songs from each planet on both CDs.

Note: I saw discussions of whether the multiple singers represent different characters from the Forever race, or if it’s all the same being arguing with himself. I’m going to assume the former, because the latter strikes me as a bit silly.

The following events happen during the times dinosaurs roamed the Earth. The race of aquatic beings called Forever is living on Planet Y, having lost all their emotions in exchange for immortality, living through machines (Age of Shadows, Comatose). Some of the Forever aren’t happy with this and seek to regain their emotions back, even if it means losing their immortality, while the conservative members of society oppose them—each side brings their own arguments to the discussion (Liquid Eternity, Beneath the Waves). As the discussion progresses, Forever decide to plant a newborn race on a fitting planet to revitalize their race and regain their emotions by living through the newborn species (Newborn Race), so they plant their DNA on a comet that is on a collision course with Earth (Ride the Comet).

Meanwhile, in the 21st century, the things on Earth are going in due course—we see a middle-class worker spending his usual days polluting the Earth using his car and polluting himself with cigarettes and fast-food (Connect the Dots), then we see a pair trying to hook up via an Internet dating website (Web of Lies).

The comet with Forever DNA finds its way to Earth, and despite the heated discussion between the Forever regarding whether it’s the right way to do things, it collides with the planet, and the explosion’s impact exterminates the dinosaurs in what would later be known as The Fifth Extinction. A new race, humans, arises from Forever DNA, and through human dreams, Forever are able to relive the emotions they once used to feel (Waking Dreams). However, the people who were once influenced by Forever appear to have visions of their previous encounters, which scares people like Mr. L’s nurse—Mr. L, who, apparently, was the Hippie who travelled Into the Electric Castle (The Truth is in Here), is now treated with pills to sedate him.

Everything is going quite well until some of the Forever are dismayed with the people’s incompetence and inability to overcome the simplest problems on Earth, such as microbes and illnesses. They propose to speed up the humans’ evolution, and despite the reasonable protests that this would lead to overpopulation and other scary things, the Forever share their knowledge with humans, which results in humans developing the same problem the Forever did once: they become technology-dependant, losing their emotions and wanting to resolve their problems with wars and conflicts (Unnatural Selection). Realizing their mistake, Forever try to find a way to warn human race of their inevitable demise, teaching them to send the telepathic messages back in time (River of Time). The knowledge reaches two human scientists in a dream, and they try to pass it back to the previous centuries, but they aren’t sure if their messages are getting through (E=mc²). As of the year 2085, the humans on Earth have exterminated themselves in a series of nuclear wars, and Forever are about to lose their chance to regain emotions. The whole race is in despair, and the bravest of them advices the others to “stop the machines, prepare to die” (The Sixth Extinction).

As there are no humans left on Earth, Forever now focus on the last surviving humans on Mars. They witness the eventual death of all the humans inhabiting the red planet, including the last surviving colonist, who uses The Dream Sequencer to preincarnate back in time, and eventually becomes the New Migrator. He then sets on a quest to free Forever from their dependence on machines and rekindle their capacity for emotion.

Music

As I said above, the music on this album is darker and heavier than on the whole than on the album’s predecessor, The Human Equation. The songs can be mostly divided in two categories musically, apparently depending on the planet they take place. When the song is set on Planet Y featuring Forever’s thoughts and discussions, it’s usually more brooding and epic sounding, with distinctive dramatic approach to the vocals, mostly operatic and powerful. When the song is set on Earth, the music is simpler, more approachable, and more mundane—reflecting the differences between two races. However, since according to the plot, the humans began their existence from Forever DNA, and therefore have similarities to them, so do the songs—despite the various different factors in writing and execution, they still sound similar enough to recognize the familiar Ayreon sound.

As opposed to the more organic and natural sound of Into the Electric Castle and The Human Equation, 01011001 has a lot of sci-fi themed synths on it, which, along with distorted guitar riffs, make the album sound more computerized. That sound, including the heaviness, goes hand-in-hand with raw vocal power of all the singers invited. Still, there is enough diversity to the album for it to retain a sense of flow. There are long, multi-section epics like The Fifth Extinction and The Sixth Extinction, there are ballads and softer songs like Comatose and Waking Dreams, there are folk-oriented songs like River of Time and maybe Newborn Race, and then there is one obligatory song with Pink Floyd influence written all over it, Beneath the Waves.

All in all, despite the darker mood, the album has plenty of typical Ayreon fare. Critics accused 01011001 of bringing nothing new to the table in terms of Ayreon music, and Arjen said in the several interviews that “if you hate my music, you’re going to hate this album, and if you like what I do, you’ll probably going to like this one.”

My Thoughts

First of all, I really like this album. The high moments are incredible, like those Jorn Lande / Floor Jansen trade-offs during Liquid Eternity and Beneath the Waves, or the Bob Catley / Daniel Gildenlöw quiet moments in The Sixth Extinction, or Jonas Renske on Waking Dreams… I could go on and on. There are a lot of things to like on 01011001, and it’s probably my 4th favourite Ayreon album overall.

But there are a few things that make me enjoy this album a bit less. First, I don’t think it needed to be as long as it is. It’s longer than The Human Equation by two seconds, but while I feel that The Human Equation has perfect flow and no filler whatsoever, I can’t say the same for this record. I mean, I’m not going to call any song here “filler”, but my attention tends to wander during songs like Connect the Dots, Web of Lies or Unnatural Selection, and I wouldn’t miss any of those. I know that, technically, Unnatural Selection is important plot-wise, but I just dislike that song. Second, the number of singers is overwhelming, and they don’t get their time to shine except maybe Jorn, Floor, Anneke and Steve Lee. I’ve listened to this album a lot of times, and if you ask me which songs have Tom Englund or Daniel Gildenlow, I could only name you one or two for certain, and for the others, I would have to guess. Third, there are some instrumental sections that go on for too long, in my opinion, like the one in The Fifth Extinction. It has a few decent ideas, but by repeating them over and over it becomes too predictable and too boring. The one in Liquid Eternity might also fall into that category, but at least it has as a long buildup with an incredible payoff.

While I have those criticisms about music, I’ve got no objections about the plot of this album. I like it a lot, more than any other Forever-related Ayreon album, (not counting The Human Equation). I like how Arjen wrapped the story up, or at least it seemed so back then—with the announcement of The Source, we know the story isn’t done, even though the album would take place before the events depicted on this album. And overall, it’s a damn fine album, a great conclusion to the story and a worthy addition to Ayreon discography.

Offline Evermind

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Before I post the next listening session time, I want to thank you guys for all your fantastic contribution to this thread! Nick's and Cyclopssss's posts were great to read. I know Stream of Passion album wasn't that popular, so I'm glad we've got at least a few posts about it. Now, let's move on.

01011001 listening session - Monday, January 30th, 7 P.M. GMT!

Despite my problems with plug.dj recently, we will try to run this session tomorrow at our usual time! Feel free to join us to discuss the plot, the music, the shows you've been watching recently and whatever the hell you want. It's a lot of fun.

This session will take place at plug.dj site. To join the room, use the link below.

https://plug.dj/ayreon-listening-sessions

Offline home

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I'll try to be there but won't be participating much in the chat, I've got two exams tuesday  :P
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Online Tomislav95

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I'm listening to it right now!
I heard this album a few time a while ago and recently I've been listening it again in preparation for survivor and I liked it more than I remember. Actually, I think it is awesome.
Also, great write-up :tup (did 425 change anything in your dramatic introduction? :P)
Quote from: Evermind
...and Jonas Renske from Katatonia wrote all his melodies for the album...
Obviously :lol
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Offline Shadow Ninja 2.0

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This was my first Ayreon album (also one of the first three albums I bought), and it's still one of my favorites. I think that the abundance of singers does kind of hamper it a bit, since most of them don't really have enough time in the spotlight, but musically I think it's one of Arjen's best. Maybe that's just a 'first Aryeon album' thing? Dunno. I really like it though.

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Offline PixelDream

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I did not feel it lived up to The Human Equation, and perhaps that's also because it's a very similar type of record. Still, some real bangers on there. Love the opening track, E=MC2 (that Michael Romeo solo is awesome), and both the 'Extinction' tracks.
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Offline Evermind

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Good to see all the positive thoughts about the album. :tup As I said, I think it does have some flaws, but some moments and songs are brilliant.

Also, great write-up :tup (did 425 change anything in your dramatic introduction? :P)

Actually, he didn't, and that's why I forgot to cut this comment from the final draft. :lol

Listening session will begin in two hours from now on!

Offline twosuitsluke

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I'm hoping to make it in tonight  :tup I'm at work so the best I can do is drop in and out (and time it that I'm there for the songs I like most)

Offline Scorpion

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I really really like this album. It could probably be shortened to a long one-disc album and still leave the best stuff in there, but when it's amazing, it's out of this world. Age of Shadows, Liquid Eternity, Beneath the Waves, The Fifth Extinction, River of Time, E=mc² and The Sixth Extinction are some of my favourite Ayreon songs.
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Hey, the length is fine :azn: Thanks!

Offline Big Hath

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potentially my favorite Ayreon.  Love it!
Winger would be better!

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Offline 425

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Also, great write-up :tup (did 425 change anything in your dramatic introduction? :P)

Actually, he didn't, and that's why I forgot to cut this comment from the final draft. :lol

Ha, I probably should have cut that comment myself!

This is very close to the top of my Ayreon rankings. It's probably a close #2 to The Human Equation among the ones I'm familiar with. A few of the songs are a little fillery, but the high points are really good.

Beyond the obvious Age of Shadows, Beneath the Waves and the two Extinctions, I'd put two shorter songs among the high points of this one: Comatose and The Truth is in Here. Comatose might actually be my favorite track on the album; Jorn's performance is so impressive and it's just such a good song. The Truth is in Here is just exactly the type of quirky song that works for me. It really tells a self-contained story that becomes that much more when you add in the context of the whole Ayreon story. It's pretty evocative and awesome in that context. I think the female vocalist on there does a good job at character and counterpoint, and Arjen absolutely goes for it in what is my favorite of his vocal performances—he really embodies the character. It's my favorite Arjen-fronted song, just ahead of Carried by the Wind.
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Offline Nick

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It's so interesting to read this one compared to the rest as it was the first new Ayreon release for me.

It was also one of the first reviews I ever wrote. I certainly cringe at writing from a year ago, let alone close to a decade. That said, here it is for everyone: http://wpapu.com/new-releases-025/#006

There are things I love about this album, but plenty that isn't quite as well executed as most Ayreon is. That said it's a perfect example of why I love Arjen so much. This album is either my least favorite or close to it, and yet I still stand by the B+ rating I gave it, or perhaps a B at worst. There is truly nothing with the Ayreon name on it I don't thoroughly enjoy.

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Offline Cyclopssss

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I remember this being released and being excited that my girl Marjan Welman would be on it! I remember playing it through for the first time, not really grasping the storyline.
I remember being impressed with Anneke v. Giersbergen and Jonas Renske's parts, being blown away by Jorn Lande, being totally underwhelmed by Daniel Gildenlow's contributions as I found him totally unrecognisable! Other than that it sounds great, musically and mix-wise. It sounds futuristic and folky at the same time at certain points, in a typical Ayreon fashion. Ultimately, my conclusion was that it didn't make as big of an impression on me the way The Human Equation did. I remember playing the album, that was just released, on the way to the releaseparty in Stairway to Heaven in Utrecht and when arriving there, the lonoooong line that formed in front of the entrance. (really, theys should've gone for a much larger venue. When I got to the front, they were just about to announce that the place was packed and couldn't allow anymore of the audience in. When Yvette Boertje, Arjen's (former) PA saw me standing outside she motioned me inside, all part of being a former Ayreonote and Team of Passion member, I guess. It was so packed inside you couldn't even get a good view of the stage when Wudstick, Arjen, Marjan, Floor, Hansi Kurch  and Ed Warby performed some of the songs accoustic, to great applause. I remember being VERY impressed by a towering brunette with the greatest blue eyes I'd ever seen and thinking 'Where do I know this chick from?' Offcourse, it was Floor  :facepalm: After that short acoustic gig, they all went outside and played a few songs for the people that were still outside and couldn't get in. It was that kind of an afternoon.
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Offline Evermind

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It's so interesting to read this one compared to the rest as it was the first new Ayreon release for me.

It was also one of the first reviews I ever wrote. I certainly cringe at writing from a year ago, let alone close to a decade. That said, here it is for everyone: http://wpapu.com/new-releases-025/#006

Same here. I also noticed a few cringy things in this review indeed. :biggrin: Still, it was pretty good I think.

I remember this being released and being excited that my girl Marjan Welman would be on it! I remember playing it through for the first time, not really grasping the storyline.
I remember being impressed with Anneke v. Giersbergen and Jonas Renske's parts, being blown away by Jorn Lande, being totally underwhelmed by Daniel Gildenlow's contributions as I found him totally unrecognisable! Other than that it sounds great, musically and mix-wise. It sounds futuristic and folky at the same time at certain points, in a typical Ayreon fashion. Ultimately, my conclusion was that it didn't make as big of an impression on me the way The Human Equation did. I remember playing the album, that was just released, on the way to the releaseparty in Stairway to Heaven in Utrecht and when arriving there, the lonoooong line that formed in front of the entrance. (really, theys should've gone for a much larger venue. When I got to the front, they were just about to announce that the place was packed and couldn't allow anymore of the audience in. When Yvette Boertje, Arjen's (former) PA saw me standing outside she motioned me inside, all part of being a former Ayreonote and Team of Passion member, I guess. It was so packed inside you couldn't even get a good view of the stage when Wudstick, Arjen, Marjan, Floor, Hansi Kurch  and Ed Warby performed some of the songs accoustic, to great applause. I remember being VERY impressed by a towering brunette with the greatest blue eyes I'd ever seen and thinking 'Where do I know this chick from?' Offcourse, it was Floor  :facepalm: After that short acoustic gig, they all went outside and played a few songs for the people that were still outside and couldn't get in. It was that kind of an afternoon.

Now that's an awesome story. I have no idea how can you not recognize Floor, though. :lol

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Guilt Machine – On this Perfect Day (2009)




Release date: August 28th, 2009
Length: 57:37


Tracklist:

1. Twisted Coil
2. Leland Street
3. Green and Cream
4. Season of Denial
5. Over
6. Perfection?

Personnel:

Band members:

Jasper Steverlinck — vocals
Lori Linstruth — lead guitar
Chris Maitland (ex-Porcupine Tree) — drums
Arjen Anthony Lucassen — electric and acoustic guitars, mandolin, bass guitar, keyboards and vocals

Additional musicians:

Ben Mathot — violin
David Faber — cello



History / Background / Choosing the musicians

Despite announcing her intention to pursue her own goals, Arjen’s manager Yvette Boertje stayed with him until 01011001 was released, and only then quit her job. Arjen needed a new manager right then, and he didn’t want a manager who was only interested in cash—he needed someone who would be a stimulating force to him, a person whose opinion he would always be able to ask for, and whose opinion he would value. Yvette recommended him Lori Linstruth—the guitar player for Stream of Passion back in 2005—she and Arjen got along really well during the first Stream of Passion tour. Arjen considered it and offered her the position, going out of his comfort zone and adding that the position also included living with him. At that time, Lori was fighting depression like Arjen—she recently broke up with her boyfriend and didn’t know what to do with her life—so one could say two kindred spirits found each other in this case. Lori agreed to give Arjen’s proposal a try, and thus a new period of life began for both of them.

Now that Arjen’s life was back on track, the inspiration started flowing for him, and new songs began coming up effortlessly. Originally, Arjen planned this project to be a solo album, with laid-back Floyd-influenced music, but then Lori heard his ideas and insisted on adding heavy guitars to them. Naturally, then, a laid-back album didn’t happen. Arjen decided to abandon that “solo album” idea, and when he did, he became quite sure what this album was going to sound like: melancholic, heavy at times, with some Floyd-influences—most importantly, it was going to be more consistent in terms of the sound and vocals. In contrast to 01011001, Arjen wanted to get only one singer for the whole album; and since he had released Fate of a Dreamer and Embrace the Storm with female singers, he decided that this time the singer had to be male.

There were other requirements for the singer, such as having good pronunciation in English and not being too well-known on progressive rock or metal scene—Russell Allen was briefly considered, but Arjen didn’t want to send expectations through the roof, so he didn’t ask Russell to participate. One fan sent Arjen a message regarding the singer of a Belgian band called Arid, and Arjen and Lori went to see him performing live. The singer—Jasper Steverlinck—blew them away, and they offered him the position, but he wasn’t interested in it at first. It took a few months for Jasper to think about it, and then he contacted Arjen, saying he was willing to sing on a track called The Memory Remains from Timeline.

After collaborating on The Memory Remains, Jasper agreed to sing on Guilt Machine, but the problem was that Arjen had all the melodies written, but didn’t have any lyrics. He turned to Lori, and she was quick to supply him with lyrics for one song, the opener of the album. Arjen liked them so much, he asked her to write the rest of the lyrics; and she did, focusing her writing on dark emotions like guilt, sadness and regret. The resulting record isn’t a concept album in the sense of having one continuous storyline, but all the songs are built around the same emotions of guilt, regret and inner struggle.

Writing / Recording

In the several interviews that followed the release of On this Perfect Day, Arjen described the writing process for this album as “very relaxed.” The inspiration kept flowing, and the songs were growing from the mere ideas to the full-blown 10-minute epics in no time, with one exception called Over, the shortest song on the album. The band struggled with this one, and even the ideas that everyone contributed to it weren’t doing any good, according to Arjen—the song ended up being a “problem child” of the album.

Arjen finally managed to get Chris Maitland to play on his record—he tried to get him for The Dream Sequencer, but Chris didn’t answer Arjen’s e-mails for a few days, and when he did, Arjen had already asked another drummer to perform on that album. Arjen chose Chris Maitland over usual Ayreon drummer Ed Warby because he thought that Chris could perform the intricate, groovy passages on the slower, subtler songs better than Ed. Though Ed can definitely perform those types of passages well, he would probably not do so as well as Chris, since he is more of a powerhouse drummer. Chris flew over to Netherlands and recorded his drums there.

All the people who were involved in recording this album had a chance to contribute their own ideas to the music Arjen wrote. In case of Chris, Arjen sent him the tracks with programmed drums over them. Naturally, Chris told him that wasn’t the way he was going to play it. Arjen responded that this was exactly the answer he had hoped for. Similarly, Jasper had guide vocals from Arjen, but being a better singer with a higher range, he went all out on the songs, sometimes abandoning the guide vocals entirely. Arjen only encouraged that, because it gave additional depth to the songs, making them more impressive and adventurous.

Music

The music on On this Perfect Day, perhaps, resembles Ayreon more than any of Arjen’s other side projects do. It has those signature synth sounds you can notice on 01011001, it has those long songs with intricate song structures and different sections, it even has those machine sounds—curiously, not synth-produced—which were recorded in a magnesium oxide industrial plant. The machine sounds weren’t originally in the cards for this album, but Arjen and Lori added them after they settled on the project’s name: looking at the lyrics, the only reasonable name that wasn’t already taken was Guilt Machine, and that justified the machine sounds. Arjen and Lori also decided to include a form of interaction with the fans where every fan could call and leave the message on their answering machine in their native language (also providing the translation), and the ones that they liked the most ended up being on the actual album.

Anyway, most of the material on Guilt Machine is depressing and written in a minor key; except for Over, which features some happy major chords and, as I said, was the most problematic song on this album. Still, there are some songs on the album that carry depressing, guilt-ridden messages, yet still manage to stay cheerful enough, like Green and Cream; and then there are also the songs that embrace the “guilt” concept to the core, like Season of Denial.

My Thoughts

Uh, my first thought is that this writeup is rushed as hell and I wasn’t able to do this album justice because of my job and the stupid business trip to Egypt scheduled for this weekend and beyond.

Regarding the album, I’ve got to say that I really like it. Not as much as I like some of Arjen’s other projects, like The Gentle Storm, which is my personal #1, and Star One, which is my personal #2; but this Guilt Machine album is a damn fine offering from Arjen, and it’s probably my #3 among his side projects. It’s not hugely popular, and it’s true that the sales for this album were pretty low, but I’m proud to own it, because while I think it’s not absolute musical perfection, I still think it’s a hell of an effort. The effort went somewhat unnoticed, even though Arjen was behind it, but the album is actually way better than a lot of records that were released in 2009—in my opinion, it’s better than Black Clouds & Silver Linings, for instance.

There are songs I’m not too fond of, like Over and Green and Cream, but then there are songs I’m totally in love with, like Season of Denial and Perfection?, so while I can’t say this album is very consistent, it has a lot to offer to any fellow progressive rock-/metal-head. It’s usual Arjen music with a dark, melancholic twist to it, and also with a singer you probably haven’t ever encountered—while you may think that’s not a big deal, there’s a good chance that he’s going to blow your mind. Because Jasper Steverlinck is that good on On this Perfect Day, in my opinion.

All in all, it’s not Arjen’s best side project for me, but it’s far from the worst, either. Very solid album.

Offline Evermind

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I know it's late for the announcement, but all the usual crowd knew this time in advance, and if you just stumble upon this, feel free to join us!

Guilt Machine - On this Perfect Day listening session - Tuesday, February 7th, 7 P.M. GMT!

This session will take place at plug.dj site. To join the room, use the link below.

https://plug.dj/ayreon-listening-sessions