While this website has become known for its in-depth album and concert reviews,
the digest contains concise comments on new music our audience has either recommended
or might enjoy. Click on album covers or label names for links to further information.
Click on the title to view the article.
More Digest Entries
Previous Digest Entries
Image © 2001
Image © 2001
Reviews and Interview
Sunrise In Eden
More Sabine Edelsbacher
Beto Vaszuez Infinity Feature
(10 April 2001) The debut album from Edenbridge is entitled Sunrise
in Eden (Massacre Records (Germany) MAS CD0248, 2000). Categorised by the label
as 'angelic bombast metal,' the album features nine metal-edged progressive tracks
featuring the stunning vocal work of Sabine Edelsbacher. The band were founded in
1998 by guitarist and songwriter Lanvall in Linz, Austria. Kurt Bednarsky (bass)
and Roland Navratil (drums) round out the lineup. Astrid Stockhammer provides
additional backing vocals. Superbly produced in every respect, the album was
recorded at Segull Music Studio in Austria by Gandalf; he also contributes sitar
parts to the recording. While Lanvall also plays keyboards on the album, the band
is actively searching for a full time keyboard player to support their forthcoming
Sunrise in Eden has already captured significant critical
acclaim throughout the European rock press. Impressed by the band from the
first listen of mp3s on their website
their album quickly became one of the year's favourites at Musical Discoveries
headquarters. You'll find super-catchy hooklines, melodic and brilliant guitar
solos, fast double-bass smashers and emotional ballads. The album opens with
the "Cheyenne Spirit," a symphonic rocker that serves as a perfect introduction
to the prowess of Edenbridge and the Sabine's crystalline vocal textures. The
epic title track "Sunrise In Eden" is a classic rock track that blends gentle
and agressive guitar styles with Sabine's powerful lead vocal line. After
several verses, the late arriving chorus--demonstrating the range and power
of the lead singer's voice--will hook the most critical listeners.
"Forever Shine On" is the first of the album's ballads. Sabine
sings gently over light keyboard and melodic guitar which builds as the track
develops. Her vocal part soars over the instrumentals in the chorus,
delicately hitting the highest notes on the album illustrating her virtuousity.
An upbeat rock track with rythmic variety and multiple tempo changes, "Holy
Fire" blends metal-edged lead and bass guitars with orchestral keyboard
arrangements, soaring vocal part and lovely choir-style backing vocals.
Lanvall's guitar solos are tremendous. The first half of the album is
summarised perfectly by the lead guitar in the highly varied textures of
the Nightwish-style "Wings Of The Wind." In addition to the Sabine's
tremendous lead vocal, the depth and quality of the backing vocal parts
are as impressive as the dynamic guitar solos and symphonic keyboard
The album's remaining ballads, "In The Rain" and "Take Me
Back," are lovely tributes to the lead singer's range, supported by symphonic
keyboards, featuring melodic and dynamic lead electric or acoustic guitar
solos respectively. "Midnight at Noon" is a fast-paced, heavily percussive,
metal-edged rocker where Sabine's vocal energy once again delivers the goods.
The album concludes with an epic length bombastic metal rocker entitled "My
Last Step Beyond" that effectively summarises the content of the album that
precedes it. Driving melodic guitars and symphonic keyboard textures provide
a foundation for the final stunning lead vocal part. Listen for Gandalf's
gentle sitar part during the dramatic instrumental bridge and Sabine's
soaring lead and the backing vocal lines as the track concludes.
With an extensive variety of musical textures and Sabine's
stunning crystalline vocal work, the debut album from Edenbridge is certain
to delight a wide range of female vocal enthusiasts. Listeners will
immediately be drawn by rich sound and superb production quality, evident
in the depth of the instrumental arrangements as well as the clarity of the
Read more about the band and listen to soundbites at their website. Now
available from a variety of sources, Sunrise In Eden is worth a
trans-Atlantic Journey and is by all means a must listen!
MDM Records 2001
(8 April 2001) The first single from Bridin Brennan is entitled
"Hang On" (Grapevine (Ireland) CDGPS 300, 2001). Released in anticipation of
her full length album, the single includes the title track and a second vocal
number entitled "Deep Deep Sleep." An instrumental version of "Hang On" is
also included on the CD. Bridin is the youngest of the Brennan clan from
Gweedore, County Donegal, Ireland. Produced in Dublin by Chris O'Brien and
Graham Murphy, Bridin is backed by Ray Harman (guitars), Wayne Sheehy (drums)
and Karen Hamill (backing vocals).
In contrast to the melancholy music of her sisters Enya and
Máire, Bridin's music is evidently more accessible and pop-oriented. "Hang
On" is a medium tempo track; Bridin's soft vocal textures are similar to
her sisters'. The accomplished vocal delivery is obviously the result of
years of backing the family band Clannad. From her management, musically
very different from her siblings, she still has the unmistakable haunting
voice that is peculiar to her family. This quality blended with outstanding
contemporary songs looks like bringing another generation of this family
to the forefront of chart music once again."
The everso gentle ballad "Deep Deep Sleep" is evocatively
and sensually sung over light guitar, keyboard and percussion, and provides
an enlightening contrast to the title track. Its lovely instrumental bridge
and the instrumental version of "Hang On" both illustrate the superb
contemporary arrangements we can expect on Bridin's forthcoming album.
At this time the single is available only in Ireland yet we fully expect
the album to be released worldwide. Corrs and Naimee Coleman fans alike
will be keen to hear it; worth a journey, like this debut single, we
anticipate the album will be a must listen!
Image © 2001
Black Flames Productions
(11 April 2001) The debut album by Poland's melodic heavenly vocals
band Centuria is entitled Dreams and Feelings (Dion Fortune Records (Germany)
BN 564 / Black Flames (Poland) BFCD 004 / SPV 085-58312, 2000). Lead vocalist Anna
Wojtkowiak provides the central texture to the album with solo and layered English
lyrics and vocalise soaring above the richly arranged keyboard instrumentals. The
band is also comprised of D.a.n.y (drums, percussion, samples) and Jaroslaw Baran
(keyboards, guitar, samples). The album is distributed in America by Projekt and
drew our immediate attention from first listen.
From the news release, "Centuria is a new and extremely interesting
band that breavely explores dimensions of music and sound that were relatively
unknown before. A sense of taste, that you have never met before, inspired by
many kinds of music, let the young beginners compose an unusual record, unique in
sounds, deeply emotional, sensual and original. [Taken from the lyrics of the
second track "Tristia",] Dreams and Feelings is a well chosen title.
Centuria means the music of your soul; there is no room for metal agressiveness
here, although some associations with Fula, The Gathering or Liv Kristine occur
to the listener immediately. You can find here, a feeling flawless beauty,
fragility, sweetness and inspiration. This is truly unusual music--Heavenly
Goth--which has a certain something. The band has existed merely for a year
and a half and this debut album was recorded in their own studio and produce
The album opens with the upbeat and higly melodic track "Bewitched,"
in wich Anna's vocals draw the listener into the rest of the recording. The
rhythmic keyboard introduction of "Tristia" immedately reminded us of Fula
(review), however, this track opens into a
lushly arranged vocal masterpiece. Crisp percussion underscores arrangement
of the solo verses and multi-tracked choruses while rhythmic keyboard scales,
reminiscent of the introduction compliment the metal-edged instrumental bridges.
Evocatively sung, the lyricless "Forgetfulness," rich with soaring vocalise,
demonstrates Anna's range, power and virtuosity as well as the instrumentalists'
skills across a broader range of genres from new age to heavy metal. In
contrast, the sweetly sung track "Fabella" is a well arranged upbeat and
highly accessible pop-oriented tune. Lush with layers of harmony vocals,
Anna's stunning solos break through now and again further enticing the
Unlike the tracks that precede it, "Omen" is an agressive
metal-edged, but highly rhythmic track, with contrasting layers of sweet
vocalise alternating with an almost-spoken lyric. Tender keyboard textures
add to gentle lead vocal line of the atmospheric track "Apocalypse" before
the agressive second part of the track develops into its full splendour
illustrating Centuria's musical virtuosity. "The Awakening" is the album's
one gentle--almost lullaby--ballad. Sung sweetly over a symponic
keyboard-based arrangement, it illustrates the softest side of Anna's
We especially enjoyed the way that Anna's lead vocal broke through the
instrumentals of the lush symphonic arrangements of "Heaven and ..."
Listeners will fully appreciate her talent as Anna's lead soars to the
highest notes--reminscent of Annie Haslam--on the album. The album
draws to a close with the short but progressively-arranged "Dytyramb."
A blend of orchestral rock and classical keyboard-based arrangements are
complimented by Anna's stunning vocalise.
Centuria's album Dreams and Feelings is indeed a
tremendous band with enormous international potential. The album is
readily available from Projekt
and we fully expect broader availablility as critical acclaim continues
to build. Certainly worth a trans-Atlantic journey, Centuria's debut
album is a must listen!
Image © 2001
(13 April 2001) The debut album from German Rock/Metal band Charisma,
entitled Karma (Massacre Records (Germany) MAS CD01777, 1999), was sent
to Musical Discoveries by the label following our enquiry on Edenbridge's
Sunrise in Eden reviewed above. Both caught our editors' attention and
went into frequent rotation at our headquarters. Charisma's album--a must
listen--has been a dramatic surprise and we're pleased to review it and draw
our readers' attention to it here. An interview with the band is also
Charisma features the stunning emtional vocal work of former
jazz singer Annette Kienzle. The is also comprised of former Ivanhoe members
Achim Welsch (guitars, vocals) and Giovanni Soulas (bass) as well as Richard
Siebel (keyboards) and Markus Blind (drums). Three additional guest drummers
contribute to the album. Comprised of nine tracks, the recordings' textures
vary between agressive, heavy-metal arrangements to heartfelt ballads,
progressive rockers and an alternative arrangement of an Abba pop tune.
The album opens with the straight metal track "State Design"
which provides an excellent introduction to the band's energy and Annette's
vocal prowess. "Open Eye," later in the album is similarly constructed.
Technically challenging, the brilliant progressive title track "Karma"
balances powerful percussion with delicate keyboard work and driving
guitars. Evocatively soaring vocals rise above the rythmic arrangements
and demonstrate the power and range of Charisma's lead vocalist. Guitar
solos during the instrumental bridges and additional vocal layers during
the choruses are wonderful.
"The Prophets" is somewhat reminscent of Ambrosia, especially
with Achim's lead vocal part. The track begins as a ballad and develops with
Annette's vocal layers into a driving progressive rock tune. "Serpent" is
similarly arranged; we especially enjoyed Annette's sweet vocal part.
Charisma's stunning cover and alternative metal-edged
arrangement of the Abba pop tune "Rich Man's World" ("Money Money Money")
follows. Vocal layers and guitar solos contribute to the major improvements
made over the original version of the track.
The rocking "Warm My Soul" and "Find Me In Space" are especially
illustrative of Charisma's stylistic variation and are tracks where Annette's
crystalline vocals--solo and multi-tracked--soar well above the lush and
powerful instrumental arrangements. The band must be spectacular on
stage. We especially enjoyed ethnic keyboard part, melodic guitar and
the brilliantly arranged, yet almost spoken, lead vocal in the verses of
"Find Me In Space." Harmony vocals take over as the song develops to its
full splendour. The album closes with a new version of the Ivanhoe metal
classic "Deeper Ground." Annette's lead and backing vocals soar above the
agressive guitar-based arrangements and varying styles--including one
like Julee Cruise--carry several of the track's quieter passages.
Clearly Charisma's debut album Karma has captivated the
Musical Discoveries review team. While itt is the third of the more
metal-edged albums reviewed in our Digest this month,
like the other two reviewed above, it offers something for every type of
Musical Discoveries visitor. Certainly worth a trans-Atlantic journey,
and lots of further exploration (samples from each track are in the releases
page at the band's website), this album is a must listen!
Image © 2001
More Rachael Sage
Interview and Reviews
Painting Of A Painting
(13 April 2001) The latest album from Rachael Sage, entitled
Painting Of A Painting (Mpress Records (USA) mp5454-2, 2001), is a
stunning addition to her catalog
(feature). Rachael is supported by
a variety of musicians on the new album, comprised of thirteen adult
alternative female vocal tracks. Allusions to Tori Amos, Kate Bush and
Ani DiFranco may still be made, but Rachael charts her own territory
on this stunning new album. After a wonderful launch concert in NYC,
Rachael has just begun her 2001 European Tour.
Lush instrumentation provides a solid foundation for the
evocatively delivered lead vocals, with harmonies multi-tracked at
times. The heartfelt and warmly sung ballad "Cyanide & Cinnamon" opens
the album--a dynamic instrumental bridge is especially noteworthy.
"Satellite" is a moving sensually sung upbeat track. We were especially
stricken by the contrast between the almost spoken jazzy style verses
and the highly melodic and accessible--soaring in spots--choruses of
"Better From Mars" and "Seraphim Smile." It is typical for Rachael to
sing with tremendous emotion and the verses of "Pictures They Took" and
"Among All Of God's Creatures" are no exception. Instrumentals in the
choruses are rich while the vocals are heavily layered and stunning.
A bit jazzier and more upbeat, the catchy title track
"Painting Of A Painting" is performed dramatically with crisp percussion,
lush instrumentation and heartfelt vocal splendour. "Footsteps" is similarly
constructed while "Underflow," "Apology" and almost spoken "Grace" are
evocatively sung ballads with richly arranged choruses. The dramatic
"Precious" is arranged similar to "Better From Mars" and "Seraphim
Smile." The album concludes with "I Guess" a moderate tempo track
wrenched with emotion and a lovely soaring vocal chorus, recognisable
from an earlier release by someone else. The fourteenth bonus track
is a final heartfelt ballad sung over the lightest piano
The latest album from Rachael Sage is a blend of hearfelt
ballads and uptempo adult alternative rock tracks. Artwork accompanying
the compact disc is equally enjoyable. Read further reviews
and hear soundbites at her website or visit amazon.com to order a copy
The latest album by Rachael Sage further charts her artistic development
and stunning vocal talent. Like her earlier albums
(feature) her new album Painting
Of A Painting is a very nice listen!
Image © 2001
(13 April 2001) Cathy Vard was the first to break away from the
Irish trio called The Vard Sisters who released an album of seventeen classical
and secular arias entitled Heavenly in the mid-1990s. Her debut solo album
is entitled Follow Your Heart (Sony Music Entertainment / Columbia (UK)
492792.2, 1998). Heavenly has subsequently been reissued in the Sony
mid-price range and continues to be available from retail and online sources.
The other two sisters--Wendy and Lisa--released their album A Time Of
Change in 2000 (review). Featuring these
attractive sisters' stunningly crystalline vocals, all three albums have had
widespread critical acclaim. Wendy and Lisa--The Vards--are represented by
the well known Dublin agency run by Pat Egan.
Cathy Vard's album is comprised of thirteen relatively well-known
tracks. Produced by Bill Somerville-Large, arrangements almost exclusively by
John Drummond have been carefully constructed to provide a quiet foundation
for Cathy's lovely voice. Celtic roots come through in the opening "Lullaby"
sweetly sung over a light instrumental. Also appearing on The Vards' album,
Cathy's version of "The Second Time" is more delicately sung, as one would
expect from a solo project.
The West End sounding arrangements of Paul Simon's 1968 tunes
"Old Friends" and "Bookends" perfectly suit Cathy's voice. Cathy's version
of the timeless Dvorak hymn "Going Home" was arranged by Michael Casey.
With the orchestra in the background throughout, Cathy's soaring vocals,
backed by Catriona Walsh and Cathy Corcoran, carry the melody.
The second half of the album blends classical arrangements with Irish
themes. Des Cave's narration perfectly compliments Cathy's vocal part in
"The Stolen Child" a tune written by Mike Scott with words by W. B. Yeats.
Liam Lawton provides a Celtic edge to the album in "The Clouds Veil,"
"Seol" apparently adapted from the Riverdance tune, "Paidir na
Trinoide" and "A World Within." Cathy's classical vocal training
rings through in every note, especially during the sustains in the
Layers of crystalline vocals--Cathy's lead and the backing
singers' harmonies--dominate the classical ballad "The Source" written by
Brendan Graham. Cathy's version of a traditional air entitled "Raglan
Road," arranged by John Drummond is delicately and sensually sung over a
very light piano and string backdrop. Orchestrally richer than many of
the tracks that precede it, the tender track, "A World Within" closes the
Follow Your Heart is a definitive female vocals album.
Cathy Vard's crystalline voice perfectly suits the selection of tracks
included while instrumentals have been suitably arranged never to overshadow
the vocal work but effectively backing the lead and harmony parts. Certainly
worth a journey, this album--like the one by her sisters--is clearly a
Image © 2001
(13 April 2001) The latest album by the Canadian progressive rock band
Mystery, At The Dawn Of A New Millennium (Unicorn Records (Canada) UNCR 2040,
2000) is actually a compilation of 'best of' tracks from the band's earlier albums
spanning the period from 1992 through 1999. Produced by Michel St-Père, the album
lacks female vocals but blends orchestral textures of Rush and Yes incorporating Jon
Anderson-like heavenly vocals by male singer Gary Savoie and is therefore not out of
place at Musical Discoveries. The album struck us from first play and rated a must
listen not long after being placed in heavy rotation at our headquarters. The
band's albums Theatre Of The Mind (UNCR 2020) and Destiny (UNCR 2030)
are now in hand; our reviews will be integrated with a band interview in a
Mystery's lineup on the album includes one of the best
progressive rock singers, Gary Savoie (vocals), Michel St-Père (electric
and acoustic guitars, keyboards), Patrick Bourque (fretted and fretless bass)
and Stéphane Perreault (drums, synthesizers). This compilation is meant to
conclude the chapter of the band's history with Gary Savoie. Mystery is
reported to be hard at work on their next album with their new vocalist,
The title track from the band's latest album "Destiny?" opens
the compilation and is followed by the the title track of their second album
"Theatre Of The Mind" is a moderate-paced progressive rocker blending dynamic,
almost metal-edged, guitars with orchestral keyboards and soaring vocal layers.
Somewhat more delicate in its construction, "Before The Dawn" begins with
ballad-like verses but develops into a more robust and dynamic piece.
"In My Dreams," a mainly acoustic ballad, illustrates Savoie's vocal
virtuousity; orchestral keyboards provide additional texture as the
track comes to its climax.
Faster paced with woodwinds provididing orchestral textures
underly the highly accessible Rush-like rocker "Black Roses." The flute
parts are absolutely outstanding. "The Inner Journey-Part II" is a dramatic
progressive ballads; Savoie's vocals are evocatively sung soaring above the
lovelyorchestral arrangements. Driving guitars, lush keyboards dominate
the arrangements of the highly accessible epic "Cinderella" with its lush
layers of Savoie's vocals. "The Mourning Man" blends ballad like textures
with more agressive progressive variations, soaring vocals and crisp
Two epic progressive tracks bring the album to a conclusion.
"Submerged," from Destiny?, begins slowly with an acoustic arrangement
but builds vocal intensity and adds further instrumentals--including
flute--as the song develops. A highly dynamic fourteen+ minute track
entitled "Shadow of the Lake," also taken from Destiny? wraps up
the compilation. A high degree of variation between the different
movements; symphonic keyboard textures and agressive metal-edged
guitar parts contribute to a tremendous arrangement.
Mystery immediately caught our attention and piqued our
interest in exploring their earlier albums in total. Enthusiasts of Yes
and/or Rush will most likely find the band's music interesting and worthy
of further exploration. Dramatic song construction, excellent musicianship
and arrangements and well sung vocals characterise their sound. Certainly
worth a journey, and available from progressive rock dealers this
compilation--At the Dawn of a New Millennium--is a very nice
Image © 2001
Virgin Records Ltd
(13 April 2001) Former Eastenders star Martine McCutcheon's
second album is entitled Wishing (Virgin (UK)7243 8 50527 29, 2000). The
stunning young woman's first album You, Me and Us featured the hit single
"Perfect Moment," which, heavily publicised by the label, took the UK by storm.
McCutcheon is currently receiving widespread critical acclaim for her lead role
in My Fair Lady in a West End revival of the classic musical. An album
of original and cover pop music, Wishing has something for everyone, and
Martine's vocals are mixed way up throughout.
Upbeat, highly accessible pop-oriented tracks, including
"I'm Over You," "Every Time," "Love Changes Nothing" and the title
track "Wishing" are lushly arranged with stunning lead vocals and lovely
harmony backing vocals. "Tonight" and "Everybody" are dance club style
numbers that features brilliant keyboards, layers of strings, thick bass,
percussion and other effects.
Martine's cover of Donna Summer's "On The Radio" is stunning in
every respect; lush arrangements perfectly support an evocatively sung vocal
line without the loss of the song's original disco flavour. The orchestral
arrangements behind "Together We Are So Beautiful" blend with a lovely vocal
in a similarly styled track.
The album's ballads are "You Mean The World To Me" and "Cried So Many
Nights"; Martine's lead is sensually sung over light contemporary arrangements.
"Teardrops" is a gentler adult contemporary track featuring a sweeter vocal line
"What You Get" is a lushly arranged upbeat pop number with a lovely hook.
Martine's lead vocal is stunning.
Martine McCutcheon's second album Wishing is a
comprehensive collection of highly accessible contemporary pop tunes
certain to please a wide range of audiences. It shows further artistic
development in the pop direction since her debut album
and with stunning production quality afforded by significant investment
from the record company is certainly worth a journey. A very nice listen
Image © 2001
(updated 15 July 2001) The third album from the York-based
Celtic-progressive crossover band Mostly Autumn is entitled The
Last Bright Light (Cyclops (UK) CYCL 100, 2001). The album
significantly develops the band's progressive sound especially when
compared to the Celtic flavours of their first two ablums
once again the vocals are dominated by Bryan Josh, Heather
Findlay--winner of the 1999 Classic Rock Society coveted Best Female
Vocalist Award--sings lead on two of the album's tracks. Mostly
Autumn and Karnataka (review)
will headline together at the HLC Rotherham in a CRS gig on 12 May
Mostly Autumn is Bryan Josh (guitars, vocals), Heather
Findlay (lead and background vocals, bodhran, tambourine, bells),
Iain Jennings (keyboards, synthesizers, hammond organ, backing
vocals), Liam Davison (guitars, vocals), Angela Goldthorpe (flute,
recorders, backing vocals), Andy Smith (bass) and Jonathan Blackmore
(drums). A variety of guest artists, including Troy Donockley (Iona),
have contributed to the album. The lineup is currently touring
Mostly Autumn's development is immediately recognisable
in the moody REM-like track "We Come And We Go" sung by Bryan Josh.
Lush arrangements with lead guitar supported by Hammond organ in the
chorus have tremendous depth. The first standout track of the album
is "The Dark Before The Dawn," a dynamic rocker with thick
guitar, Hammond organ and Pink Floyd-style vocals blending to
create a progressive masterwork. The contrast between the progressive
verse and Celtic style chorus--dominated by flute--works extremely
The album's ballads are sung alternatively by Bryan Josh
and Heather Findlay. The arrangements in "Half The Mountain" develop
symphonically with keyboards and flute carrying the instrumental
bridge. Heather sings the gentle tune "The Eyes Of The Forest."
Light guitars underscore a sweet and sensually sung vocal lines
whilst a flute melody dominates the instrumental passages between
them on the former. Heather also sings "Hollow," a gentle ballad
supported by light guitar and keyboard. Her vocal line soars well
above the instrumentals illustrating the range and power that won
her the CRS award as their Best Female Vocalist in 1999.
Bryan Josh sings the title track, a lovely
ballad--supported primarily by deep orchestral keyboards,
a male choir and light guitar--that develops into a progressive
rocker backed by Hammond organ and guitar. "Helms Deep" is an
Iona-progressive-styled Celtic instrumental featuring Troy
Donockley's low whistle melody that, aside from the Hammond
organ solo and electric guitar riffs, harkens the listener back
to the sound of the band's prior albums. The Celtic flute melody
of "Which Wood?" perfectly compliments the instrumental that
"Never The Rainbow" is the second standout track of the
album. An upbeat progressive rocker written by Iain Jennings and
Heather Findlay and featuring her soaring and evocatively sung lead,
the track draws the listener in further with every chorus. It must
be fantastic to hear performed in a live setting. The low
whistle part by Troy Donockley in "Prints In The Stone" is especially
enjoyable and compliments Bryan Josh's lead and Heather Findlay's
backing vocal quite well. The progressive epic "Shrinking Violet,"
sweetly sung by Heather builds dramatically in its conclusion.
The concluding progressive epic--"Mother Nature"--begins gently
with a light acoustic-oriented ballad sung by Bryan and Heather
as a duet. Thickening instrumental and vocal arrangements and
lovely instrumental solos highlight the members' virtuousity as
the track to a close.
Whilst the soundbites on the band's website have not been
updated to include excerpts from the new album, you'll find a suitable
introduction to the band, biography and tour information online.
Mostly Autumn's latest album is available from many retail and online
outlets and is certainly one to be explored further. Worth a
trans-Atlantic journey we're certain that you'll agree The Last
Bright Light is a must listen!
Image © 2001
On Universal Migrator, Arjen picks up the
thread in the 22nd century. More than a hundred years have
passed since the last world war destroyed all live on the
planet earth, in precisely the same manner as foretold by the
leading character Ayreon in the sixth century (from The
Final Experiment, the first Ayreon album). Colonists
were on Mars during that struggle, from where they observed
the annihilation of earth from a remote distance. For years
they were able to survive with the supplies they had brought
with them. But the stocks, now depleted and none of the
colonists have survived except the main figure of the Dream
Sequencer. The sole survivor, a child of one of the original
Mars colonists, he has never set foot on earth.
To make the tedious life at Mars a little more bearable,
clever technicians designed the Dream Sequencer, a machine that enables
them to travel back under hypnosis to their own childhood, and to lives
before that; their pre-incarnations. In this way the main figure
witnesses the first landing on the moon in 1969. he was a
standard-bearer in the famous Rembrandt picture The Night Watch
(17th century), he appears to be a reincarnation of Ayreon (6th
century), he was present when Stonehenge was built (2,300 BC)
and once, in the mists of time, he wsa the first (erect) human
being on earth (50,000 BC). His wanderings are musically
accompanied by mellow and atmospheric sounds.
On the previous Ayreon album, Into the Electric
Castle there's a distinct opera-like structure in which the
main figures react to one another within the same song. This time
Arjen opted for a different approach. Each and every male and
female singer has his or own song. As a result of this each new
figure has its own distinct character.
More Arjen Anthony Lucassen
Live On Earth
Flight Of The Migrator
The Dream Sequencer
Fate Of A Dreamer
(14 April 2001)
The latest project from Arjen Anthony Lucassen is a two album
Ayreon set entitled Universal Migrator. The first album,
entitled The Dream Sequencer (Transmission Records (Holland)
TM-019, 2000 and InsideOut Music America (USA) IOMACD 2015, 2000),
for the greater part contains subdued, atmospheric progressive
songs with female vocal contributions by a broad variety of
artists familiar to Musical Discoveries' readers. The second,
Flight of the Migrator (Transmission TM-020 and InsideOut
IOMA2016) is filled with pulverizing metal songs.
has its own concept and individual character and are natural
follow-ons to the two-CD Ayreon rock opera Into The Electric
Castle (Transmission TM-014, 1998). Further details on the
albums' concepts, characters and artist contributions are
readily available at Ayreon's
An album of rare alternative mixes and bonus tracks
emerged after the Universal Migrator set was released.
Entitled Ayreonauts Only (Transmission TM-027, 2001), the
eleven-track compact disc includes two tracks by Arjen with Astrid
van der Veen, a new and amazing female vocalist, with the track
"Cold Metal" being from his forthcoming Ambeon project. A review
of Ayreonauts Only and this new compact disc will be posted
A spacy narration by the machine opens The Dream
Sequencer album. With a running time exceeding 70 minutes,
richly produced with lush progressive arrangements, the album also
features stunning female vocal contributions. Floor Jansen
(After Forever [feature])
provides a lovely backing vocal supporting Johan Edlund
in "My House On Mars."
Lana Lane (feature)
sings the stunning progressive ballad "2084." The
lovely and highly memorable track "One Small Step" tells the
story of the first lunar landing; lead vocals are by Edward
Reekers and backing harmonies are by a choir comprised of the
album's female vocalists.
The instrumental melody in "The Shooting Company Of
Captain Frans B. Coco" is balanced between guitar and keyboard
parts. Beatlesque-style vocals by Mouse add a lovely texture to the
spacy texture of the track. Written by Erik Norlander, the
symphonic "Dragon On The Sea," with its lush keyboard arrangement
and stunning acoustic guitar part, is a 'classic' Lana Lane ballad.
Powerful vocals lead vocals soar well above the instrumentals in
the verses; the choruses are full of lush vocal harmonies.
"Temple Of The Cat" is very clearly one of the standout
tracks on the album. Sweetly sung by Jacqueline Govaert (from the
Dutch punk band Krezip) over an acoustically light keyboard orchestral
arrangement, vocal harmonies provide a lovely texture to the everso
sweet ballad. Arjen sings the lead vocal part on "Carried By The
Wind," a short but melodic progressive track featuring complimentary
guitar and keyboard work. Damian Wilson's powerful and evocative
vocals—typified by his former work with Landmarq, Threshold and
Ayreon—soar in the theatrical style ballad "And the Druids Turn To
Stone." Arjen's guitar solo mid-track and shimmering Hammond organ
parts are tremendous.
"The First Man on Earth" is sung by Neal Morse (Spock's Beard)
very much in a Beatlesque style with lush processional style
keyboards being complimented by acoustic and electric guitar.
Layers of harmony vocals by Rocket Scientist Mark McCrite add
texture in the track's choruses. Highly accessible and orchestral,
the epic track—complete with dramatic guitar and keyboard solos—is
certain to delight a broad range of audiences. The album concludes
with a gently dramatic—yet spacy—instrumental entitled "The Dream
The first collection of this new set from Ayreon is a
a superb song-based progressive rock masterwork and certainly is
fitting as the next installment from Mr Lucassen. Whilst only four
of the eleven tracks feature female vocalists, Arjen's passion for
their inclusion remains evident.
Check out the soundbites on the web. Worth a trans-Atlantic journey,
this album is certainly a must listen!
Image © 2001
Flight of the Migrator follows a different course.
It takes us back to the beginning of time, just before the Big Bang,
from which the universe originated. It was a time of utter chaos.
During that Big Bang the first sould comes into being, the Universal
Migrator. It divides into a great many parts, which all start out on
a journey to a planet where they can settle. They bring life to the
various planets and initiate various forms of civilization. With the
aid of the Dream Sequencer the colonists on Mars follows one of those
souls on its long journey to earth. He passes astronomical phhenomena
such as quasars, pulsars, super novas, black holes and wormholes.
Meanwhile the Dream Sequencer does everything in its power to wake
the colonist from his deep hypnosis.
Even though the principle and main figures were developed
by Arjen, his descriptions of astronomical phenomena are uncannily
accurate. Lucassen buried himself in the studies of Stephen Hawking,
a scientist who has studied the source of the human race for many
years, and provides insight within the lyrics to Universal Migrator.
More Arjen Anthony Lucassen
Live On Earth
Flight Of The Migrator
The Dream Sequencer
Fate Of A Dreamer
Flight of the Migrator opens with an exhilirating
instrumental romp "Chaos." Metal-edged electric guitar, shimmering
Hammond organ and vast progressive-style synthesizer riffs illustrate
the virtuosity of Arjen Anthony Lucassen and Erik Norlander.
Crisp percussion—and a dramatic solo—by Ed Warby underscores the
arrangement. Jubilant ELP-style keyboards, characteristic of Erik
Norlander's work, blend with heavy guitar in the first vocal
number—underscored by male choir—entitled "Dawn of a Million Souls"
with the lead sung by Sir Russel Allen. Symphonically orchestral
progressive keyboard work during one bridge is as stunning as the
shattering guitar solos in others. Damian Wilson's backing vocals
provide additional texture to the track.
One of the standout tracks from the album is "Journey
on the Waves of Time" sung by Ralf Scheepers. A hard driving rock
tune, it balances heavy metal sounds with lush Hammond organ riffs
and a catchy melody, supported by the lead vocal, keyboards and
choir textures. Arjen's unique variation of the Beatlesque style
re-emerges in "To the Quasar" sung by Andi Deris. Delicate
synthesizer and guitar perfectly compliment the processed vocal
part. Full of special effects, the symphonic metal-edged keyboard
and guitar instrumental passages are especially notable.
The three-movement "Into The Black Hole" blends
metal guitar sounds with progressive keyboard work and the soaring
vocal work of Iron Maiden's Bruce Dickson. Lana Lane's backing
harmony vocals compliment perfectly as does the keyboard romp
near the track's conclusion. With Rhapsody's Fabio Kotipelto
dramatic lead vocal, "Through The Wormhole," is a fast paced,
percussive heavy-metal rocker. Lana Lane's harmony backing vocal
is subdued beneath the instrumental arrangement. A vast guitar
solo and romping keyboard solo, both by Gary Wehrkamp, are quite
noteworthy additions to the piece.
"Out of the White Hole," sung by Stratovarious
vocalist Timo Kotipelto is performed in a style similar to "Into
The Black Hole." Lush majestic symphonic keyboards are contrasted
by heavy metal-edged guitars. Keyboard solos are reminscent of
ELP's Tarkus. Hard driving guitars and vocal harmonies
by Robert Soeterboek dominate the arrangements of "To The Solar
System" until lush Hammond organ and further keyboards join the
arrangement. Heavily processed vocals in Battlestar Gallactica
Sylon-style conlude the track in "System Alert."
The album concludes with "The New Migrator," a
striking blend of orchestrally symphonic progressive instrumentals
with heavy metal, complete with heavily percussive guitar work and
double bass drum. Ian Parry's lead vocal and self-backing harmony
parts are dramatically performed. Lana Lane also contributes
backing vocal work to the final track. Lucassen's guitar solo is
perfectly complimented by Keiko Kumagai's synthesizer and Hammond
Much different than the first part of the set, Flight
of the Migrator is equally enjoyable, especially for lovers of
metal-edged song-based progressive rock. Certainly not a female
vocals album by any means, it remains full of well-sung parts by a
range of extremely talented musicians. A perfect compliment to
the first part of the set, this album is worth a trans-Atlantic
journey and is also a must listen!
Image © 2001
(13 April 2001) Since seeing Claire Hammill open for Renaissance
on 09 March 2001 at the London Astoria and meeting her in the dressing room
afterwards, we're pleased to review the reissue of her 1984 album
Touchpaper (Blueprint Records (UK) BP306CD, 2000) as the conclusion
to this Digest. Claire Hammill was recently featured in the CRS magazine
Wondrous Stories and she has also recently performed at HLC Rotherham.
Opening for Renaissance she was accompanied by another guitarist; she played
for a half hour.
One of the definitive female vocalists of song-based progressive
rock, her album Touchpaper illustrates her expansive vocal range and
sonic power. "The Moon Is A Powerful Lover" blends soaring vocalise with
evocatively sung powerful lyrics reminding us of Sally French (who u
nfortunately disappeared after one album on SI Music). The album's title
is derived from the lyric of "Denmark" which is sung in a very experimental
Kate Bush or Michelle Young (review)
style. The track "2 Fools In A Storm" is much more jazz-oriented with
instrumentals dominated by saxophone.
Again we were reminded of Sally French's work in the upbeat
track "First Night In New York." Symphonic instrumentals provide a lovely
texture under the lead and backing vocal layers. Crisp percussion and
upbeat rock arrangements compliment
Claire's vocal lead in the very 1980s-sounding "Come Along
Brave Lads." "Jump" and "Gonna Be The One" are
pop-oriented tunes with lush keyboard arrangements
rhythmic bass and Renaissance Time-Line style
vocal lines. The variety of vocal textures works
quite nicely. "In The Palm Of My Hand" is significantly
more dance club oriented than the other tracks on the
album. Claire's voice soars easily and evocatively
above the instrumental arrangements.
"Ultra Violet Light" is substantially more dark and
moody with guitars dominating the arrangements behind
Claire's punky style vocal part. "Once Is Not Enough"
is an upbeat, dance club oriented track, dominated
by a funky keyboard part that concludes the album.
Certainly very different from the albums reviewed
above, this Claire Hammill album is an equally
compelling female vocals album.
An extensive portion of Claire Hammill's back catalog is now
available on Voiceprint/Blueprint and, with the extensive range of styles
she has recorded, should be sought out by female vocalist enthusiasts.
We have plans to do an interview and retrospective review of her work
at Musical Discoveries in the future. This album certainly serves as a
lovely introduction to the artist's work and is a very nice listen!