Bonus CD-ROM video feature:
Bonus CD-ROM video
This double CD is a voyage in time and mind; what is the nature of reality? How do we know what we believe we know? What is mind without body? The choice of Rutger Hauer as character and narrator is excellent. This seasoned actor possess a mesmerizing and deep voice which creates the far out ambiance needed. The first tune I listen to a month ago was "Lost in the New Real" which made me immediately think of Alan Parsons Project Tales Of Mystery And Imagination, but on a higher plane. Anyway, I was hook firmly by its many twists, complexity and richness of sounds. All the collaborators on this opus performed exquisitely, beginning with Wilmer Waarbroek super backing vocals, Ben Mathot inspired violin, Jeroen Goosens celestial wind instruments, the majestic drums of Ed Warby and Rob Snijders, the intriguing cello of Maaike Peterse. And as a multi instrumentalist and singer on this project, Master Lucassen shines really bright.
"The New Real" is the awakening of Mister L. by doctor Voight-Kampff [from the name of the machine built to discriminate between human and «replicant» in the best SF movie of all time,Ridley Scott Blade Runner from the novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? written by Phillip K. Dick] played by Rutger Hauer[who was in that same movie the replicant Roy Batty]. We hear for the first time the theme of Mr. L prior death which will come back in Lost in the New Real, but more nuanced than it will be on this last piece. This song is a very good introduction and prepare us to what is to come, a roller coaster of conflicting emotions in the realm of «to be or not to be», but what is being anyway? What real is real? "Pink Beatles in a Purple Zeppelin", this title is in itself an indication of the weirdness of this New Real. And yes, it definitely sound 60's and in the spirit of Magical Mystery Tour, the chorus «sounds so right, feel so wrong, and the song remains the same» is an ear worm. "Parental Procreation Permit" is darker in tone and an apt denunciation of what may be coming on earth. It's a song in the best tradition of heavy rock à la Black Sabbath with a great bass riff. As usual the singing is superb. "When I’m a Hundred Sixty-four" is a pastiche title from Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band "When I'm Sixty-Four" of the Beatles. This short song made me think somewhat of "River of Time" from the album 01011001, but much lighter in tone. "E-police", (who are the brain police?). On this piece, the melody is real catchy and the energetic chorus carried us farther on this musical roller coaster. It's the kind of tune I'd like to ear on radio when driving. "Don’t Switch Me Off" sounds like a floydian progressive ballad and the theme will return at the end of "Lost in the New Real". "Dr. Slumber’s Eternity Home" is another gem of a chorus written in Beatles fashion with a little Queen spicing. Another pop rock hit! "Yellowstone Memorial Day", well let's hope he stay asleep for now... or it could be the end of civilization as we know it. Interesting to sing about that, since we can't do nothing about it and it can happen anytime. "Where Pigs Fly" (Animals...) the violin, telephone voice, the guitar and the synths create another great floydian tune with a Jethro Tull touch. By far my favorite for now, "Lost in the New Real" is a sublime synthesis of CD 1 and one of the best progressive rock songs of all time in my opinion. I had a strange déjà vu experience listening to it and was deeply moved. The singing is awesome as is the unfolding and overall structure. A true masterpiece!
"Our Imperfect Race" is spacey from the start and offer us lush synths, and also some quite interesting lyrics to reflect upon. I don't know precisely why, but it sounded very 70's to my ears, a little like Hawkwind at that time. "Welcome to the Machine" a very apt choice from Pink Floyd to attach to the mind machine concept. And a shorter and more heavy machine sounding version at that, in phase with the story told here. "So is there no God?" is in Led Zep parallel universe. Another superb song where the musical form rendered well the content of the lyrics."Veteran of the Psychic Wars" from the super album of Blue Öyster Cult Fire Of Unknown Origin blends superbly in this project and is true to the original, but with a more contemporary sound. A real gem of CD 2 (a special demand to Arjen: a cover of "(Don't Fear) The Reaper" on a next album?). "The Social Recluse" is musically on more pop grounding and is in the best tradition of Ayreon music. The theme questioned us, especially with kids glued to their pc..."Battle of Evermore". I always love that tune from Led Zeppelin IV, but here instead of vocalist Sandy Denny singing with Plant, we hear Elvya Dulcimer voice singing with Arjen, which I prefer to the original. The contrast of voices gave more nuances to this song. Surely the best Led Zeppelin cover I've heard since Zappa "Stairway to Heaven" and far better than Enconium. Elvya Dulcimer works also quite well with the hammered dulcimer. "The Space Hotel" return us to a more Ayreon like musical realm."Some Other Time" from Alan Parsons Project I Robot is in phase with this opus and relatively close to the original (well, with modern means of the Electric Castle, it sounds better). "You Have Entered the Reality Zone" is another fun song sounding vaguely familiar. Best thing is to listen to it for yourself. "I’m the Slime" from Frank Zappa Over-Nite Sensation is so to the point as a conclusion. Here the slime doesn't oozed from the TV set, but from the internet. Well, I differ in opinion from the author since the TV set still vomits mainly formatted disinformation's. And the internet is not completely enslaved yet. I've heard that song many times in Zappa's shows and it is interesting to hear this version. Dweezil Zappa also does a good version live.
To resume my review, I don't hesitate to recommend it strongly for all lovers of rock period. This is a real treat which will aged gracefully. It is not often that a new project offers so much to ear without fillings and deceptive tunes. It is not only immediately good to ear, but it also grows on you. And that is not taking into account the many ear worm passages on both CD's. Thumbs up for this work of art.