4 June 2013

Into the Electric Castle

I seem to be blogging a lot about music recently. That's mostly because I had a little spending money, for a change, that was not earmarked for any bigger investment, so I guess I went just slightly overboard ordering CDs online... There is so much music out there that I love and would like to own, but money is, alas, finite. So whenever I can I try to buy as many CDs as possible...

Ayreon... for many years it was a name I occasionally encountered, haunting the periphery of the metal world that I was discovering, but never got around to looking into it. Until, like, a year ago. I first saw some videos promoting Arjen Lucassen's solo album Lost in the New Real. And I instantly loved the sound. I couldn't believe I hadn't discovered it years before.

I have been a fan of progressive rock for a long time, particularly listening to the likes of Jethro Tull and Gentle Giant. Arjen's work rekindled that interest in me. It's funny that I've mostly encountered him through the metal scene, even though much of his work is not really metal at all, but better described as prog rock.

Lucassen's best known project is of course Ayreon. Calling it a band isn't quite right – it's Arjen Lucassen, together with a large variety of guest singers and musicians. The albums are mostly sci-fi themed concept albums, sometimes described as 'rock operas', due to the variety of singers featured, portraying different characters.

I've been slowly adding to my collection of Ayreon CDs. Today I finally had a chance to sit down and listen through Into the Electric Castle again, this time complete with booklet in hand. This is my favourite of all the Ayreon albums. It is, in a nutshell, perfect. The music is awe-inspiring, the story cool. Simple enough to work well as a music album (not the easiest medium for storytelling) and be easy to follow, yet compelling, entertaining and imaginative. Right up my proverbial ally in every way.

There's a new Ayreon album in the works. Can't wait to hear it...

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