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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Ayreon

The Dream Sequencer Universal Migrator (Part 1)

Review by G. W. Hill

Dutch band Ayreon has released two albums together as two parts of one story. The discs both have very different sounds, and a large cast of supporting musicians. This disc is the more melodic, song-oriented mode. It has a very traditional sort of prog sound in contrast to the other album's heavier leanings. Both are wonderful releases, and do make a fine combined work.

The core group on this release is Arjen Anthony Lucassen, Rob Snijders and Erik Norlander. This unit is augmented by the addition of Clive Nolan, Johan Edlund, Floor Jansen, Lana Lane, Edward Reekers, Mouse, Jacqueline Govaert, Damian Wilson, Neal Morse and Mark McCrite.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: The Early Years Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
The Dream Sequencer
This one begins with a long cinematic sci-fi dialog and sound effects intro that is very Hawkwindish. As that intro ends, a very slow building Pink Floyd type segment ensues, ala Wish You Were Here era. This is an awesome piece.
My House on Mars
This cut slides straight out of track number one, with a technoish musical mode. The vocals come in, dramatic and almost Gregorian. This track seems to feel a lot like Klaatu as it moves forward. The vocals go into a processed sort of mode, and this cut just keeps building on themes and continuing in a great sci-fi mode. It gets quite powerful as it carries on. Gilmourish guitar augmented with sound effects ushers this one out.
2084
Sci-fi sound effects, keys and war sounds start this piece. Guitar in a melodic and moody progression begins to move the piece forward. The female vocals on this one are very strong. It has a texture that is really cool slow building prog, a bit Floydish at times. The majority of that Floydian texture comes from the guitar sound. This is great moody prog that gets quite powerful at times.
One Small Step
Percussion and a processed rocket liftoff countdown begins this one in definite Hawkwindish modes It then takes on a rhythm that calls to mid that band's "Motorway City" a bit. As it continues, Floydish modes take the piece for a time. It then starts building on a great prog balladic mode. Lyrically this one focuses on the first moon shot. More Floydish textures emerge in the female backing vocals, but it also takes on Royal Huntish textures at times. This number really does cover some very diverse styles in its extended instrumental break. A metallic flourish gives way to percussion and sound effects that lead into the next number.
The Shooting Company of Captain Frans B. Coco
The percussion and effects begun in the last number build up and the song becomes a rather Klaatuish prog piece with strong sci-fi textures. This one runs through a lot of musical changes in true prog fashion, getting a bit Floydish at times.
Dragon on the Sea
Percussion begins this one, and the piece starts building on this rhythmic theme. It then shifts gear becoming melodic in a balladic fashion. Lana Lane adds her vocal skills to this one. It is another great prog ballad.
Temple of the Cat
This one is a rather poppy, easy listening sort of prog ballad.
Carried by the Wind
A Pink Floydish texture dominates the early sections of the intro. As the keys enter, this sound disappears. The overall mode for the rest of the movement is in a neoclassical format. As the verse enters, the cut becomes more stripped down and straightforward, but the neo classical modes continue off and on throughout.
And the Druids Turn to Stone
This number is a straightforward and melodic prog ballad. It becomes a bit Flower Kingsish at times.
The First Man on Earth
With a strong Klaatu/Beatles texture, this is a very potent piece that alternates between sedate and crunchy. It covers a lot of prog territory in a very organic sort of progression. The song gets a bit Spock's Beardish at times. This one rocks out pretty well from time to time. It dissolves into sound effects that lead into the album's closer.
The Dream Sequencer Reprise
A variant on the first track from the album, this is a shorter version beginning with Floydian elements. This is an instrumental take on the piece and creates a nice tie between the beginning and ending of the disc.
 
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