Monday, October 02, 2006

Rock Opera Revival Pt 2: Side Projects! What?

Hello again kiddies. I am back with more things about the great Arjen Anthony Lucassen and his many projects that encompass many genres. First, more of the same, and then, SO MUCH SIDEPROJECT. Okay, not really so much.. but a little bit. Also, some of these files are in .mpc format. If you use winamp, you can find various plug-ins to play these files from winamps plug-in website. Just google .mpc files and your media players name. It should work.

In 2000, Arjen released the Universal Migrator in 2 parts. Part 1, The Dream Sequencer, and Part 2, The Flight of the Migrator. While part 1 was more electronic and atmospheric, part 2 was extremely heavy. Originally Arjen intended only female vocalists on the first part, and only male on the second, but it didn't work out that way. Though there is still extreme variation in the 2 releases. Especially in the vocals and the way the music feels. The album is about the last man on mars. Humanity had migrated to Mars because it was impossible to live on earth. He is the last survivor. He uses the Dream Sequencer to go back in time and re-live his past lives in the Dream Sequencer, and in The Flight of the Migrator, he goes back to the dawn of time and the beginning of the Universe.

Part 1:
Ayreon - One Small Step
Ayreon - Carried by the Wind
Part 2:
Ayreon - Dawn of a Million Souls
Ayreon - Into the Black Hole

One year following the release, Arjen somehow came across a young singer named Astrid Van Der Veen. She was only 14 at the time, but he was so impressed with her voice, that he developed a side project just so he could work with her. Generally, the way Arjen selects vocalists for his projects, is if they give him a certain feeling. Like, they make the hair on the back of his neck stick up, or give him chills. So for this project, he re-worked previously made Ayreon songs, and mixed them so they would be more subdued and ambient. He let astrid write all the vocal lines and lyrics, so it was a collaborate effort, which is rather unusual for Arjen. It was a good follow up to the Universal Migrator part 2, in the sense it was it's opposite. As you will soon find out, Arjen likes to do opposites.

Ambeon - Cold Metal

Ambeon - Ashes
Ambeon - Dreamer

Just one year after Ambeon, Arjen released a straight-forward heavy metal project called Star One. If featured 4 singers: Russell Allen, Dan Swanö, Damian Wilson and Floor Jansen. If you don't know who they are, that's okay. If you do, good for you, you get a cookie. Russel Allen and Damian Wilson handled of the powerful rocky vocals, Dan Swanö handled the deeper more creepy vocal melodies, and Floor Jansen did a lot of higher register vocal stuff. Combined, It sounds very interesting. All 4 singers are amazing in their own rights. The various songs on this project are based on Arjen's favorite sci-fi series or movies. Star Wars, Star Trek, Alien, Dr. Who, Dune, and even Stargate are featured. It's a little cheesier (eh?) and completely different from Ambeon. In fact, it was mostly a reaction to Ambeon that he made Star One. SPACE METAL! YEAH! WOO!

Star One - Set Your Controls
Star One - Songs of the Ocean
Star One - Sandrider

2 years later, in 2004, Arjen put together one of his most, in a sense, star-studded release. He recruited such big names as James Labrie(dream theater), Mikeal Akerfeldt(Opeth), and Devin Townsend.(hey it's that guy again) The Human Equation spans 2 discs, ranging from folky to heavy to electronica, it is by far the most diverse and bombastic Ayreon releases. The story is a little different as well. A man is in a car accident, and goes into a coma. The events surrounding the accident seem kind of odd, as there were no other cars nearby, and nothing at all in view. He just smashed right into a tree. 11 singers play out a story where they take on the role of a specific emotion or idea. Agony, Reason, Pride, Love, Passion, and Fear are all present. The 5th Ayreon release takes you into a man's mind to face his troubled past, foolish pride, and ruthless nature. It's pretty neat.

Ayreon - Day 3: Pain
Ayreon - Day 8: Hope
Ayreon - Day 14: Pride

Arjen's latest project, entitled Stream of Passion, was brought about by a contest for the Human Equation. He held a contest for a young female singer to send an audition tape or recording of somekind, and he would let them sing on his project. A young Mexican singer named Marcela Bovio won the contest hands down. Arjen liked her singing so much, he started a side project just to focus on her voice. He allowed her to write the vocals and lyrics, and he recruited a band of young musicians from various places. Mostly out of nowhere. Another interesting choice is the lead guitar role was given to an American woman currently living in sweden named Lori Linstruth. Also, he finished with a young dutch drummers, and the piano/keyboard player is Marcela's boyfriend Allejandro. It's the last thing he's released, and now all we can do is wait for more.

Stream of Passion - Passion(Music Video)

Stream of Passion - Out in the Real World(Music Video)
Stream of Passion - Calliopiea

Other Links:
Ayreon's Website
Stream of Passion Website
Ayreon Wiki

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