Arjen Anthony Lucassen's Star One — Space Metal
(Inside Out Music IOMACD-2036, 2002, CD)
by Jon Davis, Published 2003-02-01
Arjen Lucassen is nothing if not prolific. His main project, Ayreon, has released six albums in the last seven years, including the two-disc concept album Universal Migrator in 2000, and he has put out three other albums on the side. For this newest recording, he’s concentrating on the heavier aspects of his music, so he has chosen not to call it Ayreon. Enter Star One. Rather than telling a single story, this is more of a theme album, with most of the tracks based at least obliquely on science fiction films, Star Wars, Alien and others. He wisely avoids mentioning any specific characters or other copyrighted material, but most of the references are fairly obvious, especially after reading the lyrics (available at www.ayreon.com). The music is fairly standard progressive metal, with bombastic arrangements and dramatic singing (luckily no Cookie Monster growling). Chugging guitars coexist with big Mellotron chords and sparkling analog sequences. Lucassen handles most of the instruments, aided by Ed Warby on drums and guest soloists Erik Norlander, Jens Johansson (of Yngwie Malmsteen’s band), and Gary Wehrkamp (Shadow Gallery). Vocals are handled in typical Ayreon fashion with a number of singers on each song representing different characters. Dan Swano (ex-Edge of Sanity), Russell Allen (Symphony X), Damian Wilson (ex-Threshold), and Floor Jansen (After Forever) belt out the lyrics in turn, often in big blocked harmonies. All in all, I find the music humorous and enjoyable, a real kick to listen to, probably because of my love for the source materials.
Harold Budd RIP – Harold Budd, one of pre-eminent American composers of avant-garde and minimalism, has died of complications from the coronavirus. Budd came to prominence in the 70s, championed by Brian Eno on his Obscure Records label, with music that blended academic minimalism with electric jazz and electronic music. Much of Budd's best known work was done in collaboration with other artists, including Eno, Daniel Lanois, Robin Guthrie, Andy Partridge, John Foxx, Jah Wobble, and many others. » Read more
Audion Is Back in Business – Our esteemed colleague Alan Freeman has restarted Audion Magazine after a seven year hiatus. The new incarnation is available online on their Bandcamp site. Audion's history goes back to 1984, and included 58 issues up to 2013. Issue #59 is available now, and #60 is in the works. » Read more
Romantic Warriors IV – Krautrock (Part 2) Is in the Works – Zeitgeist Media, the people who have brought us the great series of documentary films chronicling the history of progressive rock, are working on the second installment of their examination of German music. Krautrock 2 will focus on artists from Münich such as Guru Guru, Amon Düül II, Xhol Caravan, Kraan, Witthüser & Westrupp, and Popol Vuh. » Read more
Simeon Coxe RIP – Simeon Coxe, best known for his experimental electronics in the band Silver Apples, has died at the age of 82. The band's 1968 debut album set the stage for both German electronic music and experimental punk music a decade later. Coxe died on September 8 from pulmonary fibrosis. » Read more