Universal Migrator, Pt. 1: The Dream Sequencer

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Ayreon is the brainchild of multi-instrumentalist Arjen Anthony Lucassen as this 2000 release represents Part I of the separately issued, two-part science fiction-based Universal Migrator CDs. Musically, The Dream Sequencer signifies tranquillity and serenity in conjunction with the "last of the Mars Colonists" who have depleted their resources thanks to a catastrophic, albeit futuristic war. And besides the rather far-flung yet pleasingly affable concept, the crystalline recording in concert with the musicians' often dazzling and altogether sympathetic interplay equates to a thoroughly enterprising affair that sustains interest. Lucassen enlists a multinational cast of vocalists and musicians for an exposition that at times elicits fond memories of early-'70s Pink Floyd-style dream-laden vistas. However, the band does indeed perform with a late-'90s edge, while also maintaining a consistently identifiable sound and style as many of these textural soundscapes are enhanced by sweet-tempered vocals, layered synths, and seductive melodies that skirt the fringes of ambient electronica and classic progressive rock. Whereas, Lucassen excels as an accomplished guitarist and colorist who chooses his notes wisely yet is equally adept at seizing the moment by way of bone-crushing leads and concisely executed chord progressions. The Dream Sequencer is brimming with climactic overtures, enticing vocal harmonies, and memorably melodic themes. Basically, Lucassen's strong compositions and alluring arrangements strike an engaging chord as the music and overall production hearken back to the glory days of defiantly inventive progressive rock. Highly recommended.

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