Arjen Anthony Lucassen

Lost in the New Real

01. The New Real
02. Pink Beatles In A Purple Zeppelin
03. Parental Procreation Permit
04. When I’m A Hundred Sixty-Four
05. E-Police
06. Don’t Switch Me Off
07. Dr Slumber’s Eternity Home
08. Yellowstone Memorial Day
09. Where Pigs Fly
10. Lost In The New Real

[05/08/12]
[InsideOut Music]

Lost in the New Real is the new musical project from Arjen Anthony Lucassen, the Dutch musician behind such hefty projects as Star One and the mother-ship of modern prog, Ayreon. Arjen is a busy-bee sort of musician, and Lost in the New Real comes out to be his fourth album in the same amount of years, but it’s a project that has been hinted at for almost a decade. After his less than successful run as a solo musician under the Anthony moniker, Lucassen decided to pursue different avenues with his music, and with that came Ayreon and his various side projects. However, with the Ayreon story having come to an end it was time for a change, and for the past few years Lucassen has been experimenting with new projects once again. With Lost in the New Real, Arjen delivers a torrent of progressive music that ventures into fresh territory, but at the same time harkens back to the sound and style fans have been familiar with for years.

The music on this album, like most of Lucassen’s work, spans the genre gauntlet; folk, psychedelic, pop, metal and much more find their home on this eclectic record, but through it all the key aspect remains; progressive rock. For fans of the man’s previous works, you probably won’t be too surprised by the sound of this album. A lot of it is mid-paced and full of shifting moods and angles. Most of the album has a foreboding tone to it, which fits into the odd science-fiction setting that Lucassen has decided to place the story in, but often times it drifts into new territory; songs like ‘Pink Beatles in a Purple Zeppelin‘, and ‘When I’m a Hundred-Sixty Four’ are two rather short songs that explore an oft unseen side of Lucassen, that being music that actually sounds happy. It seems absurd, but for the most part you never really get a sense of happiness from Lucassen’s other projects. There are a few moments here and there, but one of the most memorable aspects of his music is the sense of gloom and imminent danger that looms over all of his characters. That’s still the case on Lost in the New Real, but Lucassen has saw fit to give Mr. L a little more breathing room.

When it comes to music Lucassen has never been shy admitting that his influences lie in the works of musicians from the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s, and he has repeatedly stated that he doesn’t keep up to date on most modern music and it’s pretty easy to see the various influences that contributed to the sound of this record. Sounds taken from The Beatles, Queen, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and the like are all fairly discernible, but all of it is given a healthy dose of Mr. L’s own unique songwriting and technical prowess. That spark of Lucassen magic is what makes this record so powerful. It’s quite easy to merge sounds that have been played for the past 40 or 50 years, but to give it a new spin, and make it sound fresh is an accomplishment in of itself, and Lucassen has gone leagues and spades above that.

With Lost in the New Real, Mr. Lucassen takes full reign in the vocal department, something that he has been apprehensive about for many years, but ironically one of the things fans have been rallying for the loudest. For those unaware, Mr. Lucassen usually enlists a large assortment of vocal talents to sing over the music that he has written, and bring his vast rock-operas to life. Apparently Lucassen felt it was time to stop letting others do the work for him, and on Lost in the New Real he performs 99% of all the vocals on the record. Of course, one of the biggest drawing factors with the Ayreon and Star One albums are the variety of vocal talents, but with Arjen performing nearly all of the vocals this time around, it may seem that this aspect would vanish, however that is far from the case here. Each track sports a unique take on the vocals by Mr. L; some are performed completely vanilla, while others are fed through guitar amps, or added electronic filters to them in order to give it an added oomph. All the various techniques used to enhance the vocals work astoundingly well, and they all carry a large weight of emotional depth to them. Above it all, Arjen’s voice is so attractive and aesthetically suited to this type of music, it is a wonder that he never did this with Ayreon.

The fact that Lucassen’s music just barely borders the land of metal has always proved useful for him, allowing him to make interesting choices when deciding instrument arrangements, and Lost in the New Real is no exception. Lead guitar, bass, keyboards, and a slurry of additional instruments are all handled by the man himself, while Rob Snijders and Ayreon familiar Ed Warby handle the drums, and a few other familiar faces are attributed to the cello, flute, and hammered dulcimer. While Lucassen does handle most of the instrumentation like always, the various musicians that are featured on this record all contribute greatly to the atmosphere and general tone of this album. There are rich violin melodies, crazy time signatures, and layer upon layer of cheesy keyboard work that harkens back to those old sci-fi movies that Lucassen loves so much. Everything is just so spot on and welcoming. Each instrument is skillfully interwoven into the particular song’s sound that they happen to be featured on, but never overbearing.

When listening to an album, one should receive a sense of personality and emotion from the music; a pseudo tangible mark left by the musician(s) that performed on that piece of music. Often times this does not come easy for bands or musicians, and ultimately it’s this aspect that can really ruin a record. People listen to music in order to feel something; they want their hearts and minds to be tested and when the album they just shelled out 15 bucks for contains nothing but pointless showmanship and no real emotional depth it becomes boring and it is seen as a waste of time and money. That’s the trend that has really become bothersome in the past few years. With music being more accessible than ever, a lot of really dull and emotionless music tends to slip through the cracks; that’s not to say there wasn’t music like that before the digital age, because there definitely was, but now it is much more prevalent. Luckily for long-time fans of this man’s music, this is not the case for Lost in the New Real. Lucassen has an uncanny knack for somehow bringing to life grand soundscapes of emotional depth and true personality, and in the end the fact that he can create a new album with new ideas and sounds and still be able to incorporate the parts of himself that we have already come to know and love, as well as show us a much happier side, comes out to be the biggest strength for this album. Lost in the New Real is unadulterated, and irrevocably Arjen Lucassen; it is him at his brightest, his most creative, and for once it is him as himself.

Arjen Anthony Lucassen – Lost in the New Real gets…

4.5/5

– EC