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Arjen Anthony Lucassen - Lost In The New Real

InsideOut Music
Produced by Arjen Lucassen

Despite being often the single creative force behind albums under the Ayreon and Star One projects, and having sole control over the timescales, production, storylines and participants of those projects, none of the resulting Arjen Lucassen records could be considered "solo". Every one uses a plethora of guests, mostly in the vocal department, to achieve Lucassen's vision and have always very much been collaborative efforts once all of the main decisions regarding direction and the vast majority of the songwriting had been completed by the giant Dutchman.

This time, for the first time since his 1994 album under the name Anthony (his middle name) has worked almost entirely by himself, writing all of the songs, handling all of the vocals, guitar, bass, keyboards and production, and only bringing in additional musicians to handle drums (long-time associates Ed Warby and Rob Snijders), occasional orchestral instruments, and celebrated actor Rutger Hauer to do the voiceovers. The resulting double-disc concept album, about a man (Mr. L) from the 21st century waking from cryopreservation in the future when technology has been able to cure the terminal disease he had and now needs to re-adjust to his new present, is more or less a two-hour version of that one song on each of the Ayreon albums sung by Lucassen himself which was always stylistically out of place and didn't seem to contribute very much in terms of content to the over-arching storyline.

The opening track, The New Real, has Mr. L waking up and being greeted by his psychiatrist voiced by Hauer, and it's air of mystery and ominous tones do an excellent job of setting the scene. Then things go horribly wrong. For some reason, instead of continuing the story in a logical way, Lucassen takes a swipe at modern music in the atrocious single Pink Beatles In A Purple Zeppelin, which spends a nicely-conforming three-and-a-half minutes suggesting all new music just copies the old bands. That may be true, but why is it here? It just goes to highlight how this album is going to play out. It lurches back and forth between a meaningful track which adheres to the story, and out-of-place excuses to make a tongue-in-cheek commentary about something. That's for the first disc. The second does the same thing, except between storyline tracks and covers by Blue Oyster Cult, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin and others.

What this basically boils down to is two hours of typically well-crafted, well-played, melodic progressive rock (albeit often with repetive choruses) by one of its genuine masters put together in an uncharacteristically disjointed fashion, making it a very difficult listen. There are highlights, but they're few and far between and don't really link up as they should. There's also a surprising and disappointing lack of variety across the album. Lauded as his most eclectic work to date, it's really rather homogenous. It is simply nowhere near Lucassen's usual standards and is about twice as long as there is worthwhile material. There's more than enough scope in the concept to be a genuinely great double album, but that potential hasn't been realised.

“ lurches back and forth ”

CD1 - The New Real / Pink Beatles In A Purple Zeppelin / Parental Procreation Permit / When I'm A Hundred Sixty-Four / E-Police / Don't Switch Me Off / Dr. Slumber's Eternity Home / Yellowstone Memorial Day / Where Pigs Fly / Lost In The New Real
CD2 - Our Imperfect Race / Welcome To The Machine / So There Is No God? / Veteran of The Psychic Wars / The Social Recluse / Battle of Evermore / The Space Hotel / Some Other Time / You Have Entered The Reality Zone / I Am The Slime

Written by Andy Lye
More: 2012, Albums, Progressive,

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