Sunday, August 18, 2013

Arjen A. Lucassen - Lost in the New Real (2012)

Lost in the New Real is a rare solo effort from Arjen A. Lucassen, the Dutch producer of seemingly endless rock operas. Most famous for his Ayreon collaborations, Lost in the New Real fits that mold much more so than any of his other various projects.

Normally, Arjen's vocals tend to rank as the least memorable, easily outshined by the greats he assembles for his Ayreon and Star One collaborations. Besides two backing vocals, Arjen is the primary voice on this album, and he produces some very memorable choruses. I've been humming "Yellowstone Memorial Day" since the minute I first heard it.

Other stand-out songs include "Battle of Evermore" and the title track "Lost in the New Real." The latter finds Arjen layering his vocals to produce the complex choruses found on his other albums. It is in this moment that the album starts to feel like Aryeon b-sides, and I suspect many of these songs began life that way. In fact the album cover references "The Dream Sequencer," an earlier Ayreon album.

Story connections to that album are superficial. Lyrically Arjen plays with a variety of sci-fi concepts, although more interesting are the bevy of allusions to famous rock bands peppered throughout the album. Perhaps most telling is the song "Parental Procreation Permit" where the main character laments that everything has been done before. Rutger Hauer provides narration as Doctor Voight-Kampff (standard levels of cheese are fully engaged on this album btw). On the aforementioned song, Doctor V-K challenges the singer to cease producing music as it's all been done before. I got the sense that Lost in the New Real is a mid-life crisis of sorts for Arjen, as he ponders whether he should continue making this type of music; indeed, there are many sounds, riffs, and effects on the album that sound suspiciously similar to his earlier work.

Be that as it may Lost in the New Real is a solid album Arjen fans. I'd absolutely give it a listen for Ayreon fans biding their time until Arjen releases that next album later this year.

Verdict: Win [7/10]

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