Author Topic: Arjen Lucassen Discography Thread v. A moment lost in time  (Read 6642 times)

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Offline Evermind

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Re: Arjen Lucassen Discography Thread v. Laughter kills the fear within
« Reply #70 on: September 25, 2016, 10:44:03 AM »
Funny, this is actually one of my favourite Ayreon albums.

Yeah, it's funny how that works. I'm glad someone actually loves this album, but for me, it just pales in comparison with other Ayreon albums, which are all at least good or great.

I'll post the listening session announcement in an hour or two.

Offline Evermind

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Re: Arjen Lucassen Discography Thread v. Laughter kills the fear within
« Reply #71 on: September 25, 2016, 02:04:58 PM »
Actual Fantasy listening session - Monday, September 26th, 7 P.M. GMT!

We're hosting a listening session for this album too! We'll gather in Teamspeak around that time, so feel free to join us using the instructions in the previous listening session post. The previous one-time password link won't work, however - I'll post the new one tomorrow, or maybe one of the people I've sent it through Skype will post it here.

We're aiming at pre-listening and post-listening Teamspeak discussion, the actual album listening and a few other things too. Bring some drinks and get ready to have fun!

Link:

ts3server://ts1.voice-server.ru?port=10370&password=54879

Offline Cruithne

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Re: Arjen Lucassen Discography Thread v. Laughter kills the fear within
« Reply #72 on: September 26, 2016, 02:33:42 AM »
Funny, this is actually one of my favourite Ayreon albums.

Same here. And I really disliked the version with the re-recorded drums - I like how the original sounds.

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Re: Arjen Lucassen Discography Thread v. Laughter kills the fear within
« Reply #73 on: September 26, 2016, 06:12:21 AM »
What I loved about Actual Fantasy is the use of the vocals on the albums. There's a certain warmth in them, especially from Edward Reekers and Okkie Huysdens. Actual Fantasy, Abbey of Sins and especially the chorus of into the last horizon make this album really special for me. I admit that I like the first half of the album more then the later half, it drags a bit from there. I actually like the re-recorded version better then the Original, but it's fun to compare the two as there are plenty of differences. A lot of songs from this album would form the basis for the Ambeon album, Fate of a dreamer.
From the ocean comes the notion that the realise lies in rhythm. The rhythm of vision is dancer, and when you dance you´re always on the one. From the looking comes to see, wondrous realise real eyes....

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Re: Arjen Lucassen Discography Thread v. Laughter kills the fear within
« Reply #74 on: September 26, 2016, 08:05:17 AM »
I might join in the listening session, seems like fun! I have listened a lot to Ayreon a few years ago, I just love the Human Equation The Theory of Everything but I don't think I've actually heard Actual Fantasy yet.
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Offline Evermind

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Re: Arjen Lucassen Discography Thread v. Laughter kills the fear within
« Reply #75 on: September 26, 2016, 10:05:16 AM »
What I loved about Actual Fantasy is the use of the vocals on the albums. There's a certain warmth in them, especially from Edward Reekers and Okkie Huysdens. Actual Fantasy, Abbey of Sins and especially the chorus of into the last horizon make this album really special for me. I admit that I like the first half of the album more then the later half, it drags a bit from there. I actually like the re-recorded version better then the Original, but it's fun to compare the two as there are plenty of differences. A lot of songs from this album would form the basis for the Ambeon album, Fate of a dreamer.

Yeah, we'll cover Ambeon in this thread too!

Regarding the vocals, true, Edward's voice sounds warm and inviting whenever it isn't distorted. The chorus on Beyond the Last Horizon is the best example I think, could be my favourite moment from the album. I'm not a fan of Okkie's vocals though.

Also, the link for Teamspeak is:

ts3server://ts1.voice-server.ru?port=10370&password=54879

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I won't be able to join, sorry  :-\ Hopefully I can join you guys the next listening session
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^ I know I'm way too late, but how does that link even work?
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Offline Evermind

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^ I know I'm way too late, but how does that link even work?

Yeah, I think it worked. The instructions were in the previous listening session post. Five or six people were able to join.

It should work now too. Try it, if it doesn't, we can try to fix it.

Edit: I've misread your post as "does this link even work?" :facepalm: Anyway, the instructions were in the previous listening session post, so there's that. I'll be sure to link it next time.

Offline Train of Naught

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Re: Arjen Lucassen Discography Thread v. Laughter kills the fear within
« Reply #79 on: September 28, 2016, 07:08:06 AM »
I'll keep it short but I guess I kinda promised to comment about the album in the chat the other day.

As the person least familiar with Ayreon out of all the people in the listening session I guess it doesn't come as a big surprise that I wasn't blown away. And while I thought it was overall a little more consistent than The Final Experiment I probably wouldn't rate any of them anywhere near 01001010101010101 which is the only one I've actually kinda enjoyed so far apart from Guilt Machine.

Final Experiment had some daring moments, probably went a bit too crazy with some of those ideas but hey, I bet Arjen learned and improved from that. Actual Fantasy was meandering a bit too much near the end but had some good moments, mainly some of the guitar solos. Still waiting to be blown away by Ayreon but it might just happen with Into the Electric Castle, who knows.

This has not been said in the thread yet I think, but the next listening session will be hold on the 10th of October. Be there or be square.

Offline Scorpion

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Re: Arjen Lucassen Discography Thread v. Laughter kills the fear within
« Reply #80 on: September 28, 2016, 12:54:11 PM »
I agree with what Train said, mostly. There was some good stuff and nothing that was outright bad on Actual Fantasy, but what dragged down the album for me massively was the fact that it was super samey throughout. The only songs that I remember good things about are Abbey of Synn and Computer Eyes, which were probably better than anything on TFE. But the rest was just so uninspired and trudging that the album as a whole just felt like a drag to listen to.

I'd give TFE a 6/10 and this a 4.5-5/10. So far, Arjen hasn't impressed me, but I'm looking forward to ItEC to finally do that, I guess.
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Re: Arjen Lucassen Discography Thread v. Laughter kills the fear within
« Reply #81 on: September 28, 2016, 01:50:05 PM »
Oh yeah I should probably comment in this thread since I really haven't yet.

I basically agree with Train and Scorp, in that I definitely liked The Final Experiment better and found Actual Fantasy samey, though with some good stuff.

I really liked the ambition of TFE even though some things worked better than others. There were definitely some questionable musical and lyrical choices on that album, but overall there was also a lot of good stuff.

With Actual Fantasy, there was much less ambition and more focus, I guess, on pure songwriting, which wasn't necessarily a good thing, because there were a lot of questionable choices. I felt like almost every song had some good parts, but also had some very weird choice (often having to do with a strange or bad vocal style) that dragged it down. I remember commenting about 80% of the way through Farside of the World, which Evermind had said was one of his least favorites, that I was actually liking the song a fair bit. And no sooner did I say that than the song went into that weird outro instrumental section with the loud fake drums and weird synths.

Overall, both of these albums could use to be revisited to trim out and fix some of the more questionable stuff, but Actual Fantasy is in far more dire need of that. With TFE, it seems like some of that stuff is justified as just an excess in the concept, while AF it just seems like poor songwriting.

TFE: 6.5/10
AF: 4/10

Offline MrBoom_shack-a-lack

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Re: Arjen Lucassen Discography Thread v. Laughter kills the fear within
« Reply #82 on: September 28, 2016, 02:21:30 PM »
Computer Eyes is such an awesome song.
There were times when Rik and I were writing together when we almost died laughing. They were some of the most carefree stupid days I ever had, and I feel privileged to have shared them with him. And now he's died for real. Without me. Selfish bastard.

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Re: Arjen Lucassen Discography Thread v. Laughter kills the fear within
« Reply #83 on: September 28, 2016, 08:18:51 PM »
This was better than I expected after looking at the cover and reading the write up. Wasn't a masterpiece, but it had some good moments. I enjoy synthy prog metal so I didn't mind that part of it. Not sure if I'd ever go back to this though. This and The Final Experiment were about the same level quality for me.

Offline Cyclopssss

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Re: Arjen Lucassen Discography Thread v. Laughter kills the fear within
« Reply #84 on: September 29, 2016, 01:28:31 AM »
Well hold on to your socks, folks. Into the Electric Castle was heading in next level territory.
From the ocean comes the notion that the realise lies in rhythm. The rhythm of vision is dancer, and when you dance you´re always on the one. From the looking comes to see, wondrous realise real eyes....

Offline Tomislav95

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Re: Arjen Lucassen Discography Thread v. Laughter kills the fear within
« Reply #85 on: September 29, 2016, 01:54:28 AM »
I pretty much liked FE, it is definitely the album I'll come back to. On the other hand, I can't remember much of AF other than Computer Eyes which is awesome.
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Offline Evermind

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Re: Arjen Lucassen Discography Thread v. Laughter kills the fear within
« Reply #86 on: September 29, 2016, 10:43:42 AM »
On the other hand, I can't remember much of AF other than Computer Eyes which is awesome.

What about "I have felt a blade of steel penetrate my armour" though? :D

Offline Tomislav95

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Re: Arjen Lucassen Discography Thread v. Laughter kills the fear within
« Reply #87 on: September 29, 2016, 12:00:44 PM »
On the other hand, I can't remember much of AF other than Computer Eyes which is awesome.

What about "I have felt a blade of steel penetrate my armour" though? :D
:huh:
I find it hard to concentrate while writing blurbs :P
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Offline Evermind

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Re: Arjen Lucassen Discography Thread v. Laughter kills the fear within
« Reply #88 on: September 29, 2016, 12:13:02 PM »
On the other hand, I can't remember much of AF other than Computer Eyes which is awesome.

What about "I have felt a blade of steel penetrate my armour" though? :D
:huh:
I find it hard to concentrate while writing blurbs :P

Oh, I thought it was you who found it hilarious. Must've been 425 then.

Offline Tomislav95

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Re: Arjen Lucassen Discography Thread v. Laughter kills the fear within
« Reply #89 on: September 29, 2016, 01:18:20 PM »
I wouldn't forget it if there was penetration involved :zydarscouch:
And I knew exactly what to do. But in a much more real sense, I had no idea what to do. - Michael Scott

Offline 425

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Re: Arjen Lucassen Discography Thread v. Laughter kills the fear within
« Reply #90 on: September 30, 2016, 06:43:04 PM »
It was me, I thought that was a fantastic line.

Offline Evermind

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Re: Arjen Lucassen Discography Thread v. We're on an amazing flight in space
« Reply #91 on: October 07, 2016, 07:29:25 AM »
Up from the second page we go. I know these are taking longer than I'd (and perhaps you guys) like to.



Into the Electric Castle (1998)




Release date: October 31st, 1998
Length: 104:47


Tracklist:

Disc 1:

1. Welcome to the New Dimension
2. Isis and Osiris
     I. Let the Journey Begin
     II. The Hall of Isis and Osiris
     III. Strange Constellations
     IV. Reprise
3. Amazing Flight
     I. Amazing Flight in Space
     II. Stardance
     III. Flying Colours
4. Time Beyond Time
5. The Decision Tree (We’re Alive)
6. Tunnel of Light
7. Across the Rainbow Bridge

Disc 2:

1. The Garden of Emotions
     I. All in the Garden of Emotions
     II. Voices in the Sky
     III. The Aggression Factor
2. Valley of the Queens
3. The Castle Hall
4. Tower of Hope
5. Cosmic Fusion
     I. I Soar on the Breeze
     II. Death’s Grunt
     III. The Passing of an Eagle
6. The Mirror Maze
     I. Inside the Mirror Maze
     II. Through the Mirror
7. Evil Devolution
8. The Two Gates
9. “Forever” of the Stars
10. Another Time, Another Space

Personnel:

Arjen Anthony Lucassen — production and all instruments not mentioned in the section below
Oscar Holleman — mixing and sound engineering
Peter van 't Riet — mastering
Jef Bertels — artwork
John van den Oetelaar — layout and image handling

Vocalists:

Peter Daltrey (Kaleidoscope) — The Voice
Fish (ex-Marillion) — Highlander
Sharon den Adel (Within Temptation) — Indian
Damian Wilson (Headspace, Threshold) — Knight
Edwin Balogh (ex-Omega) — Roman
Anneke van Giersbergen (ex-The Gathering) — Egyptian
Jay van Feggelen (Bodine) — Barbarian
Arjen Anthony Lucassen — Hippie
Edward Reekers (Kayak) — Futureman
Robert Westerholt (Within Temptation) and George Oosthoek (ex-Orphanage) — Death

Musicians

Ed Warby (Gorefest) — drums
Robby Valentine — all pianos, synth solos on “Let the Journey Begin”, “Amazing Flight in Space” and “Tower of Hope”, mellotron on “Inside the Mirror Maze”
Clive Nolan (Arena) — synth solos on “Flying Colours”
Rene Merkelbach — synth solos on “The Decision Tree (We’re Alive)” and “Evil Devolution”, harpsichord on “Valley of the Queens”
Ton Scherpenzeel (Kayak) — synth solos on “The Passing of an Eagle”
Roland Bakker (Vengeance) — all Hammonds
Thijs van Leer (Focus) — flute on “Flying Colours”, “Time Beyond Time”, “Valley of the Queens” and “The Castle Hall”
Ernő Oláh — violins
Taco Kooistra — celli
Jack Pisters — sitar



Welcome! You have entered the cranial vistas of psychogenesis. This is the place of no-time and no-space. Do not be afraid for I am merely the vocal manifestation of your eternal dreams. I am as water, as air—like breath itself. Do not be afraid.

Look around, but linger not. Where I lead you will follow. Mark these words well. Ignite my anger with your delay and punishments will come your way.

You are eight souls of the flesh, chosen from different eras ancient and modern. The trivia of your mortal lives is unimportant to me... Indeed, some may die...

You have a task: to release yourselves from this Web of Wisdom, this knotted Maze of Delirium, you must enter the nuclear portals of the Electric Castle!


Nuclear portals of the Electric Castle, how’s that for you?

All the progressive bands and artists that are famous around the world usually have an album in their discography that is considered to be their “breakthrough” album. It’s that record that garnered them worldwide fame, the record that put them on the world map of progressive music, that brought them to the level of the most successful and famous projects. Images and Words by Dream Theater is, perhaps, the most relevant example of a breakthrough album for a band. Well, I’m sure I won’t be far off the mark when I say Into the Electric Castle is exactly this kind of album for Ayreon. You may love it, or you may be ambivalent toward it (as I am), or you may think it’s a bad parody of 70s progressive rock, but there’s no denying this album was what finally settled any doubts about Arjen’s credibility as a musician. This is when it became clear; when it comes to the world’s progressive scene, Arjen Lucassen is a person to be reckoned with.

History / Background

Actual Fantasy didn’t sell all that well, especially compared to The Final Experiment. Both the label and Arjen himself were rightly concerned about that. At this point, Arjen realized he had to come up with a perfect album to ensure his musical career would continue. He couldn’t allow himself to release another album that would flop commercially—that would mean the end for Ayreon. This is why the new album—which would turn out to be Into the Electric Castle—was almost like a reaction to Actual Fantasy. Arjen deduced that people didn’t like the lack of continuous story and the lack of concept, so he aimed at writing a huge rock opera. He guessed that people wanted to see more famous guests on the record, so he went out of his way to contact several stars from the progressive rock scene of 90s. He came to conclusions that people didn’t like the cold, mechanical, computerized sound on his previous album, so he ensured that the new record would sound as warm and honest as possible, with real drums and other, more eclectic instruments instead of samples. He also allowed the singers to come up with their own melodies and lyrics if they wanted, not adhering strictly to what Arjen had written for them.

Right before Arjen started writing music for Into the Electric Castle, he moved to another house, which was in the final stages of renovation. There were the renovation workers around all the time, so Arjen stayed in his own room writing music—he didn’t feel like wandering around humming the music while the workers were doing all the tough jobs. And so he spent hours and days in his room, writing, and the ideas just kept coming and coming until he realized it would definitely be a double album this time. First, he came up with all the music, without a definite story or any lyrics. He did have the vocal melodies written, too—a few different versions for each song to see which would work out better with the singers.

Now that Arjen had the music and vocal melodies written, it was time to finalize the story, settle on the list of singers, come up with the characters and write lyrics for their respective parts.

Singers and musicians / Choosing the characters

Arjen spent about three months developing the story and bringing it to life. From the very beginning, he wanted the story to feature a number of characters together in a particular situation, but he kept changing and altering the exact details all the time. He worked on a story about the seven seas before arriving at the final version of the album's plot. He didn’t know which characters he would create—he had some vague ideas, but it was also up to the singers. Arjen offered them his ideas, and if they weren’t content with the role they were handed, it was up for discussion. Arjen didn’t want the plot to be taken too seriously, especially after people began comparing the minstrel Ayreon from The Final Experiment to Christ. He wanted to create a somewhat serious story with exaggerated stereotypes as characters, which he explained to all singers in advance.

Some characters and singers ended up exactly as Arjen envisioned. He wanted to cast Anneke van Giersbergen as the lead female character from the beginning, and he imagined her as someone like an Egyptian. Anneke didn’t agree at first—she didn’t think participating in side projects would go over well with her band, The Gathering—but Arjen kept pestering her, and, finally, she relented—with the condition that her role would be a minor one. Arjen was also able to get Damian Wilson on board, and, apparently because Wilson is British, Arjen handed him the role of Knight of the Round Table—very loosely connecting the story to The Final Experiment. Once again, Arjen invited Edward Reekers to play a role, and since Arjen saw him as a bit of know-it-all guy, he ended up portraying Futureman: the most educated and science-savvy character in the story.

Some other characters weren’t created that smoothly. Actually, some characters weren’t planned at all. Arjen didn’t plan on inviting Edwin Balogh at all, but Edwin wanted to sing on the album so much that he eventually came to Arjen’s studio, grabbed a guitar and started to sing his lungs out, covering some well-known songs. Arjen was impressed and made a character for him. As it turned out, Edwin was interested in Roman history, so the choice was easy enough. Originally, Arjen didn’t plan on getting two female singers, either, but after reading the interview in Aardschok magazine in which Sharon den Adel said that Arjen was one of her main influences in music, he decided to see Within Temptation live. He met with the band backstage and Sharon said she would be glad to participate in another of Arjen’s rock operas if the opportunity arose. Her voice was different enough from Anneke for Arjen’s purposes, so he opted to include two lead female singers on Into the Electric Castle, picking an Indian character for Sharon.

Arjen was also able to get Fish on board to sing a few songs; so, naturally, he created a Highlander character for him. Arjen had to fly to Scotland to Fish’s own studio to record three songs with him. He recalls that Fish drank four bottles of wine while recording his vocal parts, but still didn’t miss a note, delivered his lines with the Scottish accent Arjen was hoping for, and also wrote his own lyrics. Arjen explained to him that he was supposed to portray a cowardly Highlander; Fish was nearly offended and retorted that there’s no such thing as a cowardly Highlander—his character was just tired of fighting. Another person who wrote his own lyrics was Jay van Feggelen. Arjen had imagined him as a gangster, but Jay was a huge fan of Conan the Barbarian, so he ended up with a Barbarian character instead.

Last but not least, there was a lot of confusion around the role of Hippie. Originally, Arjen asked Donovan to perform the role; Donovan responded by advising Arjen to ask Jon Anderson, which didn’t work out. Then Arjen found another singer, Mouse from the Dutch band Tuesday Child. Mouse had doubts about the symphonic nature of the record, but he recorded his parts. Then, a few weeks later, Arjen called him and revealed who else would be singing and performing on this record. In the interviews that followed the album’s release, Arjen said he assumed that when Mouse’s manager got this information, he suggested Mouse should ask for something more. When Arjen received the contract from Mouse, there were some additional clauses and restrictions that hadn’t been discussed before. Arjen paid Mouse his money, rejected the contract and recorded all the vocals himself the same night. Mouse called Arjen a week later and apologized for the incident; they reconciled and later Arjen asked him to perform on his next album.

Some other notable contributions are also worth covering. Arjen almost got Ian Anderson to play flute on the album, but at the last moment it didn’t work out. Instead, Arjen invited Thijs van Leer from Focus. This album also marks the first time Arjen collaborated with Ed Warby, a drummer from Gorefest, who would go on to play on many Ayreon albums to follow. Arjen was also able to get more famous musicians on board, like Clive Nolan—who complained that his part on the album was relatively small—and Tom Scherpenzeel from Kayak—who insisted that soloing really wasn’t his specialty, but went ahead and performed his solo anyway.

Now that the characters and musicians were set, Arjen just had to write the lyrics and bring the whole story to life…

Plot

These eight characters from different eras and different countries—Highlander, Indian, Knight, Roman, Egyptian, Barbarian, Hippie and Futureman—find themselves in a place they can’t recognize. A disembodied voice greets them from the sky, explaining that they have to find the Electric Castle and enter the portal there to come back to their usual lives (Welcome to the New Dimension). The characters interpret this according to their own beliefs, myths and superstitions. Highlander believes he has died and is now in hell to pay for his sins, Knight thinks he’s on a quest to find the Holy Grail, Hippie thinks he’s tripping on some drug and the whole thing is a hallucination, and all the while Futureman is trying to find a scientific explanation for the situation. Arguing over this peculiar turn of events, they get acquainted with one another (Isis and Osiris, Amazing Flight, Time Beyond Time).

Soon enough, they have to face their first trial (The Decision Tree (We’re Alive)). The team has to pick one of them to die, for only seven people may continue further. Barbarian and Highlander break into an argument. Highlander, convinced he has died anyway, accepts his fate and stays behind (Tunnel of Light). With seven people left, the party continues Across the Rainbow Bridge and comes to the foot of the Electric Castle, passing through The Garden of Emotions. The emotions overload them, and while for Hippie (who is under the influence of drugs most of the time) it’s just another day, Egyptian is overwhelmed by the sudden rush of emotions and becomes convinced Amon-Ra came to take her soul away. Meanwhile, Roman and Barbarian get into a fight about who should lead their small team. Influenced by the heightened emotions of anger and rage, they both threaten to kill each other, while Futureman, who is, apparently, the only one who understands what’s going on, tries to reason with them. Egyptian is left behind to die (Valley of the Queens).

The party finally reaches the Electric Castle. They enter The Castle Hall, where spirits attack those who have killed before. Both Barbarian and Knight struggle to retain their consciousness—it is possible that some of their victims ended up here in the spirit form. Then the team climbs The Tower of Hope, where they can see a thousand possible futures, that reflect their own desires and dreams. The Indian joins the strange breeze on top of the tower, drawn towards the sun. Roman and Futureman both try to stop her, warning her about the recklessness of this and asking her not to give in, but to no avail. The Indian encounters Death on that breeze and passes away with a scream (Cosmic Fusion).

The team—with only five people left now—continues into The Mirror Maze, where they’re forced to reflect on themselves, their fears and their forgotten memories of the past. Futureman passes through it with a certain ease, but his mind is occupied with the possibility that computers have developed too far and will soon overpower mankind—he’s convinced the voice that guides them is some kind of a computer program, a machine (Evil Devolution). Finally, the party reaches their point of destination. They stand before The Two Gates, one of which is golden and new and the other of which is plain and old. The voice tells them that one of the gates will bring them back to their worlds, and another one leads to oblivion. Without a second thought, Barbarian strides to the golden gate and proudly walks through it. Naturally, he fades into oblivion.

The voice reveals itself and tells the remaining four people that he’s “of the stars” and he’s called “Forever”. They’ve an alien race, developed to the point where they’ve lost all their emotions and are living through machines. They’ve vanquished the dinosaurs and planted people on Earth in order to experience the emotions through them, to feel, to at least partially get back what was lost. This whole thing with eight people and the Electric Castle was an experiment—they picked eight people from different eras of history to find out how they’d react to different situations, to see what emotions they’d feel during the trials. The voice tells them they won’t remember anything of this after they walk through the gate (”Forever” of the Stars). Shortly after, all four people—Roman, Knight, Hippie and Futureman—wake up alive in the real world, wondering, but unable quite to place or remember what has happened to them (Another Time, Another Space).

Offline Evermind

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Re: Arjen Lucassen Discography Thread v. We're on an amazing flight in space
« Reply #92 on: October 07, 2016, 07:29:44 AM »
Music

Into the Electric Castle features what should be probably called the “trademark Ayreon sound”. While both The Final Experiment and Actual Fantasy showed some traces of it here and there, it’s on this album that Arjen finally found his sound. While blending a lot of his favourite styles seamlessly, he managed to use his favourite synths to an extent that some would call excessive, and also incorporate some of the instruments you don’t usually find in a standard band setup, like flute, violin, cello and sitar. Lots of synths, lots of other eclectic instruments, lots of stylistically different singers, and lots of genres blended together—I think it’s a good description for the Ayreon sound. And of course, don’t forget the drums by Ed Warby.

Still, while the modern Ayreon albums sound, well, way more modern, this record’s sound is deeply rooted in 70s progressive rock. The songwriting here is way more focused than on The Final Experiment, despite the album clocking in at over a hundred minutes. Both ten-minute-long epics, Isis and Osiris and Amazing Flight, stay cohesive and tight, even with the number of singers and styles featured in them. The former switches from acoustic and folky to pounding and heavy without visible effort. Arjen said he had that acoustic riff from Isis and Osiris in his head before he started writing the album—it was his very first idea and it started everything that followed. Amazing Flight has some bluesy parts before switching into a sprawling instrumental section that takes up almost half of the song. While there are more songs clocking in at around eight or nine minutes, like The Garden of Emotions and Cosmic Fusion, there are also some short numbers that are also quite memorable. The ballads on this album, Valley of the Queens and Time Beyond Time, are top-notch, and when Arjen decides to go into straightforward rock territory with Across the Rainbow Bridge, The Decision Tree (We’re Alive) or commercial pop-rock territory with The Tower of Hope, the results are also solid.

The guitars also appear way more frequently throughout the album, be that in the form of acoustic chords, heavy distorted riffs, or clean guitar solos. While the synths heavily prevailed over the guitars on the first two records, I would say the presence of the two is almost equal on Into the Electric Castle, and it definitely makes the album more balanced.

Artwork, album release and reception

Arjen was sure this album was something special even before they started mixing it. Hans van Vuuren and the Transmission label had their doubts after Actual Fantasy, but Arjen was immediately sure that this release would be a success. However, Arjen decided that he didn’t want the album to be as expensive as double albums usually are. He wanted it to be sold at a price of single album. The label told him they could sell it for a price a bit higher than a single album, but he would have to pay all the expenses from his own pocket—the double pressing costs, the double copyrights costs, and other expenses. Arjen agreed to this offer—taking a significant personal risk in so doing. In the end, it proved to be the right decision—after all, eighteen years and five Ayreon records later, Into the Electric Castle remains Arjen's best selling record worldwide.

And, of course, there was the matter of the artwork. Arjen wanted the cover art of Into the Electric Castle to be more old school and eclectic, in contrast to Actual Fantasy. He went into a few art galleries, searching for a fitting artist. Then his brother, Gjalt, called him on the phone and said he found an amazing Belgian painter, Jef Bertels. Arjen and John van den Oetelaar (who was responsible for booklet layout) went to his house, where Arjen kept exclaiming at each exhibited picture in utter delight, while John told him to shut up each time: he expected the price would rise considerably because of Arjen’s outbursts. Arjen ended up buying the final painting and hanging it in his house… and this was just the beginning of his collaboration with Bertels.

My Thoughts

Well, here I go. I’m a bit indifferent towards this album. My appreciation certainly went up a notch after I listened to it a whole week in preparation for this writeup, but I still would pick about four Ayreon albums over this one.

The album starts off very strong, I’ll give it that. Both epics are fantastic and, along with Valley of the Queens, are my favourite tracks from the album. The first CD takes a dip after Time Beyond Time, but it’s still pretty good and enjoyable. But I can’t help but notice that the second disc drags immensely for me. Everything that comes after The Castle Hall isn’t enough to hold my interest, and my mind begins to wander off during The Tower of Hope, The Mirror Maze and Evil Devolution. I love Arjen, but I wish he could get either Donovan or Jon Anderson for the role of Hippie, as he originally intended. His voice is always distorted on this album, and the only time it works, in my opinion, is in the beginning of The Garden of Emotions. The Mirror Maze is the worst offender here; I just can’t stand the first part at all.

Nevertheless, the strong parts are among the best Arjen has even done. Valley of the Queens may just be my favourite Ayreon ballad, Across the Rainbow Bridge is how you do a rock mini-epic right, and of course, the first two songs are flawless. However, compared to some of the following Ayreon material, I find this one lacking still. Perhaps it’s a matter of singers—out of big names present here, I’m not a big fan of Damian’s voice, and I don’t think Fish is a great singer either (lyricist, yes; singer, no). That leaves Anneke and Sharon, along with Edwin, who I’d say pleasantly surprised me on this album, but still, it’s a bit dry in the singers’ department, especially when you compare Into the Electric Castle with the records that came after it.

And did I say The Mirror Maze was the worst offender? Well, another contender here is that Death’s Grunt part, where we have a grunt duet over that brass section. No offense to anyone involved in this part, but it feels like it came straight out of How To Write Cheesy Death Metal Grunt Sections 101. It feels unnecessary and forced by the story—which I know it isn’t, since Arjen had written all the music before the story—and I can’t help but feel this section is severely out of place. Could be my inner hatred of growls showing, though.

Still, I enjoy this album. I actually enjoy it a lot, for what it’s worth. But whenever I want to listen to some Ayreon, I pick some other album to spin, be that The Dream Sequencer or The Human Equation or anything that came after it.

I guess this is going to be good for the write-ups, since we’re heading straight to that Ayreon era after this album…

Offline Evermind

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Re: Arjen Lucassen Discography Thread v. We're on an amazing flight in space
« Reply #93 on: October 07, 2016, 07:46:23 AM »
Into the Electric Castle listening session - Monday, October 10th, 7 P.M. GMT!

We're holding a listening session for this album! I'll post the updated instructions for joining us at Sunday. If the time suits you, check this thread in two days to find the instructions. Meanwhile, feel free to discuss the album and/or the writeup.

Offline Train of Naught

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Re: Arjen Lucassen Discography Thread v. We're on an amazing flight in space
« Reply #94 on: October 07, 2016, 08:19:14 AM »
Are we attempting skype and teamspeak again or are we just sticking to tinychat (or whatever it was called) this time around? I got a new modem so my connection might be fine now but if we are not going to bother with skype/teamspeak I'll just stick to my desktop.

Might read that ITEC write-up depending on how much spare time I have left during the weekend :lol never seen a write-up this enormous before on DTF I think! Just skimming through the line-up though I'm psyched to hear Damian Wilson on one of these albums.

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Re: Arjen Lucassen Discography Thread v. We're on an amazing flight in space
« Reply #95 on: October 07, 2016, 08:33:28 AM »
Just wanted to say that this is a good pace for me. These albums are long so I don't always have time to listen to them right away, I'm also trying to get more than one listens in if possible.

Offline Bolsters

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Re: Arjen Lucassen Discography Thread v. We're on an amazing flight in space
« Reply #96 on: October 07, 2016, 08:34:41 AM »
This is the best them.

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Re: Arjen Lucassen Discography Thread v. We're on an amazing flight in space
« Reply #97 on: October 07, 2016, 09:37:41 AM »
Great album although I do agree on a couple of points. Arjen have never had any luck with grunting on his records. When it's in free flow (Amazing Flight, Isis and Osiris, The Two Gates, Castle Hall) the music doesn't get any better or proggier for me. When it doesn't, it drags. Still I consider this Arjen's first great Journey into Ayreon Land.
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Re: Arjen Lucassen Discography Thread v. We're on an amazing flight in space
« Reply #98 on: October 07, 2016, 09:47:34 AM »
My favorite Ayreon album. I really like the growl section, too.
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Re: Arjen Lucassen Discography Thread v. We're on an amazing flight in space
« Reply #99 on: October 07, 2016, 11:46:50 AM »
My favorite Ayreon album. I really like the growl section, too.

It's a great buildup.

My favorite is Isis and Osiris. Love that riff before Strange Constellations begins. And Annekes vocal harmonies.
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Offline Evermind

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Re: Arjen Lucassen Discography Thread v. We're on an amazing flight in space
« Reply #100 on: October 09, 2016, 08:39:29 AM »
Are we attempting skype and teamspeak again or are we just sticking to tinychat (or whatever it was called) this time around? I got a new modem so my connection might be fine now but if we are not going to bother with skype/teamspeak I'll just stick to my desktop.

Might read that ITEC write-up depending on how much spare time I have left during the weekend :lol never seen a write-up this enormous before on DTF I think! Just skimming through the line-up though I'm psyched to hear Damian Wilson on one of these albums.

I think it's too much trouble with Skype and Teamspeak to be honest. But if you stop disconnecting every few seconds, I'm up for it, mostly I just want to hear your recap of Actual Fantasy I guess. :lol

I'll post the instructions a few hours later. I guess I may as well include the tinychat link in that post, so people won't have to bother with Teamspeak.

Great album although I do agree on a couple of points. Arjen have never had any luck with grunting on his records. When it's in free flow (Amazing Flight, Isis and Osiris, The Two Gates, Castle Hall) the music doesn't get any better or proggier for me. When it doesn't, it drags. Still I consider this Arjen's first great Journey into Ayreon Land.

Well, I think the growls on THE and 01011001 are well done and fit the music rather well, too. Here, not so much.

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Re: Arjen Lucassen Discography Thread v. We're on an amazing flight in space
« Reply #101 on: October 09, 2016, 08:44:43 AM »
That's so annoying tbh because I actually did my full recap (it was probably no longer than 30 seconds though) and afterwards I was like "do you have anything to add to that guys?" and no one responded...

5 sec later I hear that stupid TS voice tell me that I had been disconnected, probably started DC'ing even before I started with my recap.  :rollin

I'd be happy to do one again though I personally prefer a free-flow discussion rather than one person doing a recap, but me being a total dumbass when it comes to Arjen probably makes it all the more enjoyable for you to hear it from me.

Offline Evermind

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Re: Arjen Lucassen Discography Thread v. We're on an amazing flight in space
« Reply #102 on: October 09, 2016, 12:14:25 PM »
That's so annoying tbh because I actually did my full recap (it was probably no longer than 30 seconds though) and afterwards I was like "do you have anything to add to that guys?" and no one responded...

5 sec later I hear that stupid TS voice tell me that I had been disconnected, probably started DC'ing even before I started with my recap:rollin

I'd be happy to do one again though I personally prefer a free-flow discussion rather than one person doing a recap, but me being a total dumbass when it comes to Arjen probably makes it all the more enjoyable for you to hear it from me.

Yeah, this is exactly what happened. :lol

I don't think a free-flow discussion will work, since there are usually only five of us. Scorp has this awful background noise even with noise reduction, and Tomislav doesn't speak at all. But I do want to hear a recap, exactly for the reasons you mentioned.

I think I'll do the instructions post tomorrow before the session. Gonna watch another episode of True Detective instead, just so I can discuss it with Tomislav tomorrow.

Is anyone else going to join the listening session tomorrow besides our usual crowd?

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Re: Arjen Lucassen Discography Thread v. We're on an amazing flight in space
« Reply #103 on: October 09, 2016, 12:38:16 PM »
Is anyone else going to join the listening session tomorrow besides our usual crowd?
If I finish my homework assignments in time I will join! it's been almost two years since listening to this album :azn: I'm in for a skype/teamspeak discussion afterwards too then.
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Offline Evermind

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Okay, so, to join our listening session you will need:

- Join the DTF tinychat following this link. This is where the actual listening will be happening.

- Join the Teamspeak for possible discussions and stuff. Here's how you can do it (I mostly copied it from the previous post, so let me know if it doesn't work):

1. Get the latest Teamspeak 3.0.19.4 version from here. Pick the link you need depending on your OS.

2. Install the client. Follow the instructions inside the installing manager.

3. Launch the client. Connect to the server via Connections -> Connect. Put the following address and your own nickname into the respective fields:



(here's the address for you to copy)
ts3server://ts1.voice-server.ru?port=10370&password=01011

This link contains the one-time password which will work for the next 24hours. This should allow you to enter our Teamspeak 3 Server. You will be automatically placed in Default Channel. From here, you can also access Open Channel 1 and Open Channel 2 if you need to.



Default and Open Channels are the only ones you can enter, the other ones require passwords to enter. The actual listening will be happening in "Arjen Lucassen Listening Session" channel (duh). I will drag everyone from Default / Open Channels in there. In case someone will join in just to troll us (which I doubt, but it never hurts to be careful), I will be able to kick the person from that channel and they won't be able to join back.

4. When you're in Teamspeak and in the right channel (or not), be sure to check some of your settings:

- "Settings" -> "Playback" -> Playback Device should be showing your preferred playback device, like speakers or headphones or whatever.

- "Settings" -> "Capture" -> Capture Device should be showing your microphone if you want to talk with people before and after the listening. Be sure to either use "Push to Talk" option which requires you to push the button of your choice to be able to talk, or "Voice Activation Detection" which will automatically react at any noise you made and put your mic on depending on the level of noise.

5. Please note that since it's an extention of the project I'm doing on DTF, most of the rules used on DTF apply. If you're going to criticize the band, try to do it politely, or you'll break my tender heart or something. I mean, just don't go all "hell, this sucks" on me. I won't appreciate that.

6. Despite the session beginning at 7 P.M., I will be in Teamspeak from 6 P.M. onwards. If you want to test your equipment and anything else, I'll be there and I'll be glad to help you.

7. Bring some drinks or whatever.