image © Transmission 2012
review, interview, photos (2001)
(07 July 2012) Released in late 2011, Fate of a Dreamer - Expanded Edition (Transmission (Netherlands) TMD-070, 2011) is a remastered edition of the stunning Ambeon 2001 album with an extensive range of well-produced bonus material. It includes two CDs: Chapter 1: The Album and Chapter 2: The Unplugged Recordings. Ambeon is the moniker created by Arjen Lucassen for his project with the young Dutch singer Astrid van der Veen. The original issue was produced when she was only 14 years old. Sadly Astrid left the music business after Ambeon and several other projects, but Arjen reports that the young woman has found a new creative outlet in painting.
Transmission maintain their history of superb physical product in this expanded edition. The package includes a tri-fold digipak including the two CDs with a separate 20-page full-color booklet containing of photos, lyrics and other artwork. The booklet also includes a forward written by Arjen Lucassen. Miniature versions of the covers and release poster are thoughtfully positioned in the booklet layout. The two CD compilation includes three rare Ambeon tracks not included in the original issue on the first disc and an entirely new disc of previously unreleased material. Centertainment's Hans van Vurruen is the executive producer of this project.
The Fate of a Dreamer 2001 recordings have been remastered in the 24-bit domain from the original masters at FineTune (website) by Peter van 't Riet using the Sonic Strudio System. Listeners familiar with the original 2001 release will be drawn to the additional richness of this remaster and the clarity of Astrid's vocal work that we hear on the new pressing. Enthusiasts will appreciate the single version of "Cold Metal" and remix of "High" included as a bonus tracks. But even moreso, the non-album bonus track "Merry-Go-Round" from the ensemble's Cold Metal EP (Transmission (Netherlands) TMS-032 CDM, 2001) will delight listeners.
In 2001 Arjen Lucassen was asked to do a show with his Ambeon project in Italy. In addition to Astrid, Arjen invited Ewa Albering (flute) and Dewi Kerstens (cello) to join him. The four artists rehearsed their material and recorded a combination of Ambeon and Ayeron tracks in his studio. The show was eventually cancelled but the recordings survived in Arjen's vault. Arjen provides further remarks on the project within the Expanded Edition's booklet.
The Unplugged Recordings CD is completely stunning. Astrid's vocals are sweet and on point for both the Ambeon and Ayeron tracks, accompanied on a couple of tracks by Arjen, most notably in "Garden of Emotions." Arjen provides all the guitar work, which is primarily acoustic. Ewa Albering, who was formerly with the Polish progressive band Quidam, adds flute to a large number of the tracks, playing not only to the acoustic tone of the project, but also adding a slight Celtic edge to some of them. The solo passages reveal her extensive talent. The cello works well in all of the tracks substituting not only for bass but also uniquely contributing to the melodies. Astrid's vocal performance is remarkable.
The Unplugged Recordings CD includes the Ayreon tracks "Actual Fantasy," "Valley of the Queens," "Charm of the Seer," "Castle Hall," "Temple of the Cat," "Isis and Osiris," "Garden of Emotions," "House on Mars" and "Into the Black Hole." Unplugged performances of Ambeon material include "Ashes," "Estranged," "High," "Lost Message" and "Cold Metal." "Cold Metal" is actually blended with "Into the Black Hole" on the last track of the CD.
The Fate of a Dreamer album has been out of print for quite some time. This expanded edition, including a remastered version of the original project with bonus tracks and a stunning second CD of new Ambeon recordings from Arjen Lucassen's vault is
delightful in every respect. This new release by Transmission will delight both those that have heard Ambeon's original release and newcomers to this branch of Arjen Lucassen's musical history.