AYREON — Universal Migrator, Part 1: The Dream Sequencer

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AYREON - Universal Migrator, Part 1: The Dream Sequencer cover
3.52 | 44 ratings | 7 reviews
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Album · 2000

Filed under Non-Metal


1. The Dream Sequencer (5:09)
2. My House on Mars (7:48)
3. 2084 (7:41)
4. One Small Step (8:45)
5. The Shooting Company of Captain Frans B. Cocq (7:57)
6. Dragon on the Sea (7:08)
7. Temple of the Cat (4:10)
8. Carried by the Wind (3:58)
9. And the Druids Turn to Stone (6:36)
10. The First Man on Earth (7:19)
11. The Dream Sequencer Reprise (3:36)

Total Time: 70:13


- Arjen Anthony Lucassen / Vocals (#8, as Ayreon the Minstrel), Guitars, Bass, Hammond, Keyboards, Analog Syths, Mellotron

Guest musicians:

- Lana Lane / Vocals (#1, as The Dream Sequencer Voice, #3, as a Dead Woman, #6, as Queen Elizabeth I of England), Backing Vocals
- Johan Edlund / Vocals (#2, as The Mars Colonist)
- Floor Jansen / Vocals (#2, as The Mars Colonist's Sister)
- Edward Reekers / Vocals (#4, as Young Arjen)
- Mouse / Vocals (#5, as the Ensign-Bearer)
- Jacqueline Govaert / Vocals (#7, as the Mayan Girl)
- Damian Wilson / Vocals (#9, as a Druid)
- Neal Morse / Vocals (#10, as the First Man on Earth)
- Mark McCrite / Backing Vocals
- Peter Siedlach / Strings
- Rob Snijders / Drums
- Erik Norlander / Keyboard Solos(#1, #4, and #6), Analog Synths, Piano, Vocoder voice, Hammond, Keyboards
- Clive Nolan / Keyboards Solos (#3)

About this release

Release date: June 20, 2000
Label: InsideOut US

Thanks to adg211288, diamondblack for the updates


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Specialists/collaborators reviews

This is the only AYREON album that i can seem to tolerate. Mind you it's different from all of the others as it's not a Metal album at all, more like in the PINK FLOYD style. It's very spacey with some electronics too. Heck there's not even the usual all-star cast although having neal Morse sing lead on one track and Damian Wilson involved vocally is a huge plus. Like i said earlier though this one is different from the norm for an AYREON record. You don't get that musical vibe here that i detest with vocalists singing the lines to each other. That's what turns me off with the other albums plus the bombast which is also missing here thankfully. Still a low 4 stars from me but i like the mood of this album and even the concept of it.
With the Universal Migrator albums, Arjen Lucassen made a classic mistake - having produced enough songs to fill a double album, he decided to actually make a double album as opposed to trimming the fat out to produce a really top-notch single album. In this case, I can kind of see why he did it - Ayreon has already catered to both a prog audience and a metal audience, so it must have made some sort of sense to make one album (this one) err towards prog and the other tend towards metal, but on the whole I think he'd have been better off putting out one carefully pared-down album to cater to both audiences.

In this album's case, the space rock-tinged, almost Floydian side of the band is paramount, and whilst there's good songs - the doomy My House On Mars is particularly good - there's also a little too much filler for the album's good.
A pointless and boring length of useless music. (Warning: cynicism ahead)

This album is one of the very few albums that I legitimately hate. I cannot stand this album. 70 minutes of ambient music that is supposed to be passed as metal really annoys me. Sure, the concept is alright, and there is one track that I can stand (Neal Morse and his genius), but the weight of other useless music outweighs any good points to the album. There are very few albums I would give 1 star. This is most certainly one of them.

The Dream Sequence is for the most part an intro track with a somewhat nice guitar solo at the end. The beginning is a short narrative, adding nothing to album, and backed by awkward futuristic sounds. The ambient at the end is somewhat nice, but not really cutting it. This is one of the few high points of the album, and it isn't even very high.

My House on Mars is the beginning of my intense hate for this album. This track is just so... boring. It does *not* need to be 7 minutes long. The vocals are spacey and uninterested. The rhythm is boring and overly repetitive. The music is atrocious; it consists of futuristic synth sounds repeated. That is all. I really have nothing else to say about this track, other than that it is just painful to listen to the entire way through.

2084 is no different than the previous track. Spacey ambient synth music, uninterested vocal melodies (what am I talking about... there's no melody!), and just an overall boring 7 minute song. This would be acceptable if it was 75% shorter and was at a faster tempo, and then it would be just barely acceptable. Not a good start, my Lucassen, not a good start.

One Small Step in the right direction, in my opinion, but *very* small. This is basically the same as the previous two tracks, except the synth piece is different and.... it's a minute longer! Oh joy! So far, this music is just unacceptable. The music does speed up somewhat in this song, with some more guitar work and somewhat more interested vocal work. Melody and tangible drumming can actually be heard, but it is still steadily boring. But, this is the best song on the album so far, which is quite sad.

The Shooting Company of Francis B. Cocq is even more boring than My House on Mars. I neatly fall asleep while listening to this song. As expected, this track is a 7 minute long spacey ambient song with some guitar work and uninterested vocal work. Yet another musical fail.

Dragon on the Sea is slightly better than all the other tracks so far. Finally, more instruments than just synth! Vocal melodies are actually listenable and enjoyable. Yet another step in the right direction, thank god. So far, this has been the best track on the album, but is still weak and can be boring and repetitive at times.

Temple of the Cat is listenable, but still overly repetitive and boring. The melodies on the album do begin to pick up slightly at this track, with some compassionate melodic work by Ms Govaert. But, why is it the Temple of the Cat? Couldn't a better Temple name have been chosen? Even just saying it is awkward.

Carried by the Wind is a more enjoyable song, but the prevalent synths are getting extremely old. The instrumental chorus is preformed by guitar mainly, but the verses are synth. Continuity in albums is great, but when every track begins to sound the same, it gets very old and boring. The song is better, but not by much.

And The Druids Turn to Stone is a good and a bad track. Even though little synth is used, the song has a very prevalent pop sound. The track can be listened to without wincing, which is good, but I feel like I should hear a shorter version of this on the Top 40; essentially, the song lacks any of the pretentious attempt at prog the previous songs did have a glimmer of. So, it breaks some of the monotonous continuity, but is much too poppy for my taste.

The First Man on Earth is one of the only legitimately good songs on the entire album. Neal Morse, god bless that man. Everything he touches turns to gold. This is legitimately prog rock! It's not spacey ambient monotony nor is it poppy ambient ridiculousness! This is truly the only good spot on the entire album. If there ever was a reason to listen to this album, this would be it.

The Dream Sequencer Reprise can be overlooked as a continuation of the overlookable first track. Simple ambient work with a spacey guitar solo that is the same feel as the first track. Ends the album on a slower and boring note.

ALBUM OVERALL: What a disaster. Sure, about 3 tracks are listenable. Other than that, the remaining 8 tracks are pointless and boring. Spacey ambient synths are the motif of this album, and trust me, you do not want that as the recurring theme in your music. If you have insomnia, I recommend this album as an alternative to sleeping pills. Although the tone of my review may seem a little immature, words can barely describe how much I truly detest this album. 1 star.
Well what can I tell you about the Dream Sequencer half of Ayreon’s two Universal Migrator albums? Well for a start its not metal, its progressive rock, whereas its companion, Flight of the Migrator, is progressive metal. The two are supposed to complement each other though and they do that nicely. Of the two I'd say that this is the better one, but if you are after metal then this is definitely not the album by Ayreon that you want to be hearing first. While its true that the project's mastermind Arjen Lucassen is greatly influenced by progressive rock artists, The Dream Sequencer is not a staple of the style of Ayreon, being the only album of the seven released to date to sound like this. What we have here is a record aimed directly at Ayreon’s fans that listen to the project for the progressive music over the metal. It’s progressive rock and is heavy on the synthesisers rather than the guitars. Very atmospheric, haunting in parts and very versatile with only one major fault in the form of the song The Temple of the Cat, which I feel lets the album down. I believe that Arjen Lucassen himself considers it his least favourite Ayreon song too. I can agree with that, although I am believer that there is no such thing as a bad Ayreon song and Temple of the Cat is not very long so in perspective it doesn’t lower the final score of this album an awful lot.

A good portion of any Ayreon album is all about the vocals. What we have here is songs that nearly all feature a single singer each and in most cases someone new on every track, the only exception being Lana Lane who sings on both 2084 and Dragon on the Sea. There is a cast of characters as such in the album just like in the previous Ayreon albums that were a part of Arjen Lucassen’s grand story, but this time it’s pre-incarnations of one soul going back through time starting as the last man alive on planet Mars and going back to being the first man alive (No I don’t think that’s a coincidence either). Only this album has a slight similarity to the debut The Final Experiment in the fact that Lana sings for two incarnations. Sadly her voice isn’t the best one on the album. No, I have to give that credit to Neal Morse whose vocals on The First Man On Earth are some of the best heard on Ayreon to date. Arjen Lucassen sings Carried by the Wind all by himself as well and it is his best vocal performance to date on Ayreon as well. Other honourable mentions to Ayreon veterans Edward Reekers and Damian Wilson. The only vocal fault really is in what wasn’t done rather than was we actually have. It would have been nice to hear more of Floor Jansen rather than just as a backing vocalist for Johan Edlund in My House on Mars.

The song writing here has produced some of the best in Ayreon to. My House on Mars has the haunting feel that I mentioned earlier to it, mainly because of Edlund’s vocals and One Small Step features some heavier parts than the rest of the album, giving it more of a kick to it. Carried by the Wind is shorter that the rest and more traditionally structured but comes across as a great addition to the album. But it is the song that is sung by the man that I gave credit as the best on the album that is the best. The First man on Earth is progressive, and catchy without being overly poppy in its chorus. I consider it to be the best of not just the light half of Universal Migrator but of the whole thing. Certainly it is the best light song from any Ayreon release to date.

All in all, another great Arjen Lucassen release.

(Review originally written for Heavy Metal Haven)
Conor Fynes
'The Dream Sequencer' - Ayreon (7/10)

Of all the Ayreon releases, this is the one that I find stands out. Not necessarily because it's musically better than the others (it doesn't top any of the double albums) but simply because the style is taken in a very unique direction. Most Ayreon music features alot of different, highly-progressive changes throughout a song, and a strong metal influence. However, 'The Dream Sequencer' concentrates primarily on Ayreon's softer, more emotive side. The result is an introspective album that stands out as Ayreon's best single-disc album.

As a contrast to the metal-oriented 'Flight of the Migrator' (relatable to Opeth's Damnation/Deliverance releases) 'The Dream Sequencer' takes the listener to the planet Mars, where the last surviving human is spending his last few days alive on a Mars colony. In order to spend his remaining hours in relative comfort, steps into a Virtual Reality capsule called the dream sequencer. This mechanism takes him back to his soul's past lives, and each most of the songs on the album (excluding the Intro and Outro) reflect their own past life. In this fashion, there is a wide span of content, ranging from apocalyptic warfare, to the Apollo 11 lunar landing, to a Mayan festival and even a reference to 'The Final Experiment.'

Alot of the music draws upon alot of electronic instruments and synthesizers. It fits in very well with the science fiction theme of the album. The performances of the singers range from mediocre to well done; Damian Wilson's performance in 'And The Druids Turned To Stone' stood out to me particularly. Instrumentally, there isn't anything thats incredibly technical, but you can get a real feeling of the musicianship and skill through the amount of emotion conveyed.

While it may be outshined by the three double albums (Into The Electric Castle, The Human Equation, 01011001) 'The Dream Sequencer' stands out as an amazing and emotional concept album, and one of Arjen's greatest musical hours.
Universal Migrator is an intriguing concept epic album from the masterful Ayreon project. As usual this Cd features incredible vocal performances from all involved and has some low lights and some highlights but it all blends seamlessly into one great package. It begins like many Ayreon albums with a robotic instructional voice and a lengthy instrumental. The first CD is actually part 1 which sold separately on initial release. It has quite a melancholy soundscape, soaked with synthesizers and some haunting guitar passages. There is no real metal surprisingly enough but it creates an ambience that flows from track to track. Neal Morse is a special guest and one of the highlights.

I purchased this with the special 2 CD package with part one and 2 together and when heard together this is the weaker of the 2. Firstly, the tracks are not as consistently good as part 2 and secondly, there's little to no metal and as a prog metal band they don't commit themselves here or satisfy the average metal fan - some may be disappointed at the lack of heaviness as I was. It is still compelling music but I so used to the heavier Ayreon. Part 2 of this sage is very heavy in comparison to this and as a result more satisfying.
I'm a fan of much of Arjen Lucassen's work, particularly the more recent Ayreon projects. This is the fourth but turns out to be one of my least favourite in the series. It's certainly not a bad album, there are moments where I quite enjoy it but there's too many keyboard sequencers used for my tastes for starters. Prog Metal?.....well you wont find much metal here which in itself is not a problem but I found myself wishing this album would take off occasionally, overall being a fairly laid back plodding affair.

Pink Floyd influences abound, none more so than on The Dream Sequencer which comes across like a Shine on You Crazy Diamond for the new millennium; much of Lucassen's guitar solos here are going for that Dave Gilmour vibe.

Two of the best tracks feature Lana Lane on vocals. 2084 and Dragon On The Sea both have decent melodies and Lane's powerful voice help breath life into tracks which in lesser hands may have blended in with much of the rest.

Another criticism is some of the tracks drag on a bit too long. Don't get me wrong, I love long tracks but to keep interest they need more changes and plenty of dynamics which are lacking in the main here, the songs being structurally simple. It's difficult to stay interested as the album heads towards the end but And The Druids Turn To Stone turns out to be a late highlight featuring Damien Wilson (of Threshold and Landmarq fame) on vocals and some Hammond Organ, much better than those bleeping sequencers which no doubt give the desired futuristic spacey vibe but unless used as minor support soon get on my nerves.

Overall then this album is a little dull with a few good moments. Incidently, if you have not already noticed, this is the companion album to part 2 of The Universal Migrator, Flight of the Migrator, both albums being available now as a double disc set. No doubt it was Lucassen's intention to keep this one more on the mellow side as a contrast to the heavier part 2 which I find more enjoyable but I may have enjoyed this one more if it could have been mixed up with some of the heavier aspects of it's follow up, obviously without destroying the flow of the concept. Just a few rocking moments would have given a lift to an album that's a bit too long and one dimensional to retain my interest. Okay but far from essential so just about worth 2 1/2 stars.

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