General Strike - Danger In Paradise (Vinyl, LP, Album)
Although the covers are a great way to hear Arjen playing something that's not directed by his own, familiar vision, it would have been interesting to hear him go someplace with this solo project that was different than what he's already done with Ayreon and Star One.
For better or worse, this is another dose of Arjen Anthony Lucassen doing what he does. It's great, emotional and progressive music, and it enjoys some of the finest production you're bound to hear this side of the Alpha Quadrant. With the announcement of a new Ayreon album slated for a possible release, we may have to wait a while before we hear from Arjen's solo project again.
In any case, "Lost in the New Real" may not revolutionize Arjen's style, but it's excellent, excellent stuff. For thought provoking, memorable progressive metal, you need look no further. Yes, Arjen Anthony Lucassen is releasing a new album.
The mastermind behind the epic and mind blowing project Ayreon is releasing another album, but this time under hos own name, not under some mysterious intergalactic apocalyptic spaceship alias; no, Lucassen decided to release his newest album, Lost in the New Real as himself. Some may not get it right away, but I smelled something fishy right from that point, right from that little detail: deciding to release Lost under a different name from his already numerous projects.
Well, since when I had fist listened to Into the Electric Castle, some five or six years ago, I have been avidly following Arjen's every step, every new project he's on, every new musical idea he's behind and, believe it or not, I have found out that not every one of his projects and musical ideas are exactly brilliant.
Arjen, being the intelligent human being he is, know that as well, which is the reason why he has so many projects: he avoids mixing something that he believes may not have such a great outcome as his well established and well-known creation, the Ayreon alias. Because of that, everything that isn't perfect goes under another name, even though the style isn't a million miles away from Ayreon: he only releases his best and most well-crafted creations under Ayreon, leaving the stuff he isn't so sure of to other projects.
Just take a peak at Star One, Ambeon, Stream of Passion and Guilt Machine: they all have something, some musical feature that his main project, Ayreon, has, but he distilled such characteristics, such musical feature for that project alone, with variable results some end up being better than others, of coursebut all being sub- par when compared to Ayreon.
All that considered, I still managed to convince myself that this time it could be different, that there was a possibility that it could be as good as Guilt Machine, that I could be wrong for another time as I was with Guilt Machine. Turn out I was not; Lost in the New Real turned out to be exactly what I expected: an underwhelming album. This time, however, it wasn't underwhelming because the music was particularly uninspiring, but because the record is utterly pointless.
That is because Arjen chooses to mimic himself here, it seems as if he decides to recycle old ideas he had for Ayreon albums that didn't quite made into any of the records.
It is possible to clearly see, with each passing song, how they are similar to previous albums he released, with more or less similarities to either some Ayreon album in particular or to ideas he fully developed on side projects. The way the album is constructed, however, make the two biggest references the Universal Migrator parts 1 and 2, specially if you consider how LP and both parts of the Migrator album were constructed.
Hell, even the opening and closing tracks here are similar in nature to the opening and closing tracks of Universal Migrator part 1. Another reason as to why I find there are so many similarities between these three albums is that all of them are constructed around individual songs instead of being one big piece of music, as it happens with Electric Castle, Human Equation, Y and Guilt Machine.
In spite of that, you can still notice references to the other albums I just mentioned. It feels as a redux, a revision of all he has done so far For that reason, I feel that most of Lost in the New Real is forgettable and just don't add to anything you already have if you know this man's work. On the other hand, however, I feel that there is an audience for this album: first and foremost, I believethere are the hardcore fans, that will buy ANYTHING Arjen releases, regardless of whatever; second, people that don't know much of his work or don't exactly know their way around his considerable catalog of albums released.
Rating and Final Thoughts If you, as me, love Arjen's work and have listened to mostly everything he has General Strike - Danger In Paradise (Vinyl out, this will pass as something forgettable excluding the excellent title trackunnecessary and even tiresome at parts, so great is the similarities with Arjen's other works.
On the other hand, of you don't know much of this great man's work or is too much or a hardcore fan to let this go by, grab this album, you will probably enjoy it very much. Lucassen's Lowest Point So Far. Ayreon, the name of the project his man has been most successful with. Even though it is the same person writing the songs, the result is no way near as memorable as Ayreon's material, when Arjen was capable of forging landmark Prog Metal albums such as "The Human Equation".
Lightly played Progressive Metal has been Arjen's trademark in his music, and apparently still is: the crunchy, distorted guitars are here, but so are the abundant lead synthesizers that give to the music a strong spacey feel a-la-Star Trek. He puts in his stories a little bit of silliness, but for the most part, it ends up not being that entertaining, compared to the lyrics of another Prog Metal classic with a Space Opera concept, Devin Townsend's "Ziltoid The Omniscient". The songwriting is hit-or-miss, some songs can be quite catchy and memorable, other borderline pathetic in their over-synthetic production and cheesiness.
Another big flaw is the various inconsistencies of the album's natural flowing: especially due to the fact that this is a concept album, the result ought to be a coherent piece with a good climactic ending and with a solid succession of songs throughout; instead, a lot of these songs seem to be very loosely connected, especially in the second half of the album; plus, the ending is anti-climactic to the extreme, causing the final moments of the album to sound rushed and destined to end with an abrupt bump the album really doesn't deserve to have.
Lucassen is a great musician and has done some great music in the past, but his subject material was a bit risky, meaning that it could have fallen into full out tackiness, and it never really did.
Hopefully, just a temporary visit down there. I love the concept this album covers: a sort of dystopian view of a future human race and it's relationship with technology taken from the viewpoint of someone who was frozen years earlier in order to preserve themselves for a time when technology advanced enough to cure this person's disease.
Lyrically, Lucassen does an admirable job putting these concepts together; an area he seems to improve upon with age. The downside to this album are the compositions themselves. There is very little room for instrumental development and the album comes off as an attempt to cater to the more accessible crowd. Furthermore, the music in many cases sounds like it's following a formulaic approach that Lucassen has successfully developed over the years; sort of like a "connect-the-dots" approach to music composition.
It really doesn't seem to say anything new. Basically, the album comes off as a cheap ripoff of the more successful Ayreon project. As usual, it is impeccably produced. The other downside and this is even explained in the liner notesis that the album itself is just the first disc. The second disc contains songs that Lucassen didn't see fit to match in with the concept, but still covers similar subject territories. It should have been labeled as a bonus disc and marketed as such.
Without reading the liner notes, one could easily find the whole thing a rather disjointed affair. In addition to what could basically be called an entire disc of filler, Lucassen attempts to make General Strike - Danger In Paradise (Vinyl couple of horrible covers.
His version of Pink Floyd's Welcome to the Machine is ridiculous; and of all people, I thought he would be the most capable of pulling off a respectable cover of this song since it has the "machine thumping" aspects already perfected on many Ayreon songs.
A mostly disappointing release. Lyrics and concept alone are worthy of four stars. Music composition is worth two stars, so I'll meet them in the middle and give this three stars. It has it's good moments, but is hardly essential. On the melodic side, Arjen takes advantage of this to make each track essentially focus on a really catchy chorus. I think out of all the albums I have listened to, this is one of the few good albums where pretty much after one listen virtually every single chorus got stuck in my head.
I remember going to bed not being able to sleep because my cranium had "Pink Beatles in a Purple Zeppelin" on an infinite loop. This is both a blessing and a curse, since most of the choruses are extremely happy, bubbly, and silly. Beyond "Pink Beatles" you are sure to note a similar effect from songs such as "Dr. Slumber's Eternity Home. I'm not saying that they are my favorite of Arjen's career, but they are catchy, whimsical, and contain a lot of Album) fun.
While the choruses are fun and mostly silly, I would say that I really enjoyed the verses. The melodies are solid and Arjen's voice is wonderful in its own right. For all those Ayreon fans who were missing the superstar singer line-up, I for one thoroughly enjoyed listening to the voice of Mr. Sure, he's not a tenor, but that doesn't mean he's not good. There's something magical about his singing and it goes perfect with this kind of music, actually much better than would many potential guest vocalists.
In fact, rather than going to one singer projects Guilt Machine or Stream of Passion, as he has in the past, I'd like to see him keep going back to himself as a singer. This doesn't mean that I don't want to see another Ayreon album in all of its multiple singer glory, because I eat that up, but Arjen has a very enjoyable and personable sound that goes great, especially with his synth-driven melodic prog like "Lost in the New Real.
To sum up my feelings on his singing, I'm glad he took the time to deliver us one album which was full of himself. Let's talk a bit about the instrument performance and the song arrangements themselves. Honestly, while I was less a fan of the pop format of the songs overall as compared to standard Ayreon fare, I was totally blown away by the arrangements.
I want to say that this is the best arranging he's done since the Universal Migrator part 1, which is a huge compliment. The arrangements are exquisitely tasteful and meaningfully varied. Arjen majestically blends arpeggiators, chorusy clean guitars, string instruments, woodwinds, and gorgeous analog synths to produce a sonic tapestry that few are capable of which shouldn't be news to anyone. From the more synthesizer driven prog arrangements of "The New Real," "Lost in the New Real" and "Don't Switch Me Off" to the bardic strings of "Where Pigs Fly," there's a little bit for everyone I couldn't help but grin hugely at the woodwinds part following the lines "Jimi played the flute".
The true masterpiece of the album, in my humble opinion, would have to be "Lost in the New Real. Lucassen: brilliant use of synthesizers and mood, ultra melodic and tasteful guitar solos, nice traditional instruments, great grooves in odd time signatures, beefy guitar tones, great vocals, and finally, a fantastic story and narrative that ends in the absolute coolest way.
You all know what I mean. It's that moment when Mr. L realizes that his consciousness is, for lack of better terms, disembodied, and at the moment Arjen's voice itself becomes computerized. This track truly shows what a master Lucassen is at combining music with narrative. To combine the idea of narrative and music, I would say that the catchy melodies aim at delivering the content of the story in the most transparent way.
Herein lays the brilliance and mastery of this album: the ridunkulous, comedic, and unashamed way in which Arjen delivers some very cool sci-fi topics. He talks about a lot of really cool stuff. Treatments of many topics push the boundaries of silliness, like "When I'm a Hundred Sixty-Four," which humorously discusses the future of extended life or "Dr.
Slumber's Eternity Home" touches on the topic of euthanasia in the most comedic of ways. The totally corny but simultaneously awesome multiple universes of "Where Pigs Fly" delivers some of the funniest and most memorable lyrics on the album, such as "Michael looked like Michael" and "Darth Vader had no son.
All in all, Arjen shows himself to be a king among nerds, a truly masterful GM of prog. So, how about disc two, the covers, and the tracks that didn't fit into the main storyline? I'm not going to go into very much detail, since I've written so much already. I will say that the covers were well executed, especially Zeppelin's "Battle of Evermore" although I was a little disappointed with the interpretation of Floyd's "Welcome to the Machine".
As far as the originals, they were solid, just like on the previous disc, especially "Our Imperfect Race," my personal favorite from the second disc. Honestly, they all fit into the story thematically, so they don't just feel like extra. I'll stop there though and let you all explore for yourself. A quick note on the packaging: Arjen delivers the highest quality digi-books I've ever seen, following the same style as with Guilt Machine and the second Star One offering.
In other words, not that garbage that Nuclear Blast puts out. These things are made of thick, solid materials and will last a long time. They are incredibly pleasing to look at and handle. Furthermore, the artwork is genius, the perfect mix of retro, modern, and of course, nerd. Check LP the documentary on the artwork, which is pretty cool. Finally, the experience of Arjen Lucassen's latest "solo album" begs the question that has now been raised by three Progulator staff members; in other words, Mr.
Cueva versus myself and Mr. Norgren, the former claiming that we are ignorant, while Mr. Norgren and myself continue to call this an Ayreon album. In Mr. Norgren's own words, "it's sad that Arjen doesn't even realize that this is an Ayreon album.
All of the influences and styles we see here have already been demonstrated on previous Ayreon works. I would argue that there isn't a single song on here that would seem out of place on an Ayreon album.
While certain influences have been highlighted here, and while the frecuency of short song format may be higher here than on other Ayreon albums, the instrumentation and style of the songs is not anything that's not been done on previous Ayreon records.
As always, Arjen is combining his various preferred styles in ways that are still fresh, just as he has done album after album. Even the storyline on some Ayreon albums has been far less Ayreon than this.
Take The Human Equation, for example, which has a meager tie-in to the Aryeon story arc which is only briefly mentioned as the album closes. On the other hand, here we have a deep link to the story of Mr.
L which thoroughly embeds Lost in the New Real thoroughly into the Ayreon universe. The question of "Ayreon-ness" thus lies only in whether or not one considers the defining aspect of Ayreon to be the element of abundant singers. For some, this may be the issue. For myself, it's not. The specific use of instrumentation, the textures, tones, and melodies are what defines Ayreon for me. This doesn't sound like Star One, Guilt Machine, or Stream of Passion, each which have a distinct sense of texture, tone, instrumentation, and melody.
However, this album contains all of those elements in the Ayreon style. Goldman's and Blouin's delightful, insouciant "It's Only Money" " Indeed, all of Chantage's songs are concerned with some sort of transaction between people, whether it's financial, emotional, or physical. In it, Goldman discusses the meaning of these songs and dispels some of the incorrect interpretations at that timegender politics, men's tendency to express themselves through violence, and the assassination of John Lennon.
A long-overdue retrospective of a good portion of her musical work, Vivien Goldman's Resolutionary Songs is jammed full of very smart, oftentimes provocative, and always incredibly enjoyable songs--and is a vital post-punk document. As a diehard fan of that phenomenal era of music, attitude, and style, I almost can't express how happy I am to have this album in my collection No comments:.
Newer Post Older Post Home. Subscribe to: Post Comments Atom. The Duff Guide to Ska. There are reviews of original pieces, but the book's real purpose is to show how the 2 Tone sound and—more importantly its ideals—carry on today Get this book right away!
Shafer has definitely not forgotten how socially conscious issues were at the root of Ska even from the beginning. He makes certain to thread the political issues that motivated the development of Ska throughout his narrative; painting a picture that took both the oppressive political environments and the often ecstatic musical content into account. And in that, he nails down for me what the enduring pull of Ska was to its many fans.
Was there ever a more upbeat dance music that combined its boundless energy with a push for progressive social values and calling truth to power? Search This Blog. Review by Steve Shafer For the uninitiated, Late Night Tales is a long-running series of compilations, each selected by a musician with The Specials Terry Hall, Lynval Golding, and Horace Panter, plus collaborators have announced that they are releasing their follow-up to Reburial: 7 Wonders of the World Music.
While I was poking around the internet looking for info on an upcoming "Shots in the Dark" posting I'm writing on the Japanese Cheers and good listening. I finally cheated the archive, playing the difficult titled tracks with 'media player classic' and saving the files with corrected names. What a wonderful surprise!!! Thank you so much. But, how can I download it?
Amazing though, the crackling LP sound is delightful! Very good Blog of yours, will come back! I love oyu I love you I love you I really love you! Oh yeah. I love track 12 too, not to forget! Archive working. Thanks for posting. More E. Like many years have gone by trying to catch these tunes from the film
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