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Ayreon - Universal Migrator, Part 1: The Dream Sequencer CD (album) cover




Progressive Metal

3.61 | 450 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Tying the knots and thickening the plot, part 1: living the past acoustically

After conceiving the story of aliens watching over humankind as it is some kind of experiment in the brilliant album Into the Electric Castle, the progressive metal mastermind Arjen Lucassen decides to tackle the job of creating or developing a more complex story behind the facts (or behind the story) he presented us in his 1998 album and the album The Universal Migrator is the first part of such development. The album tells the story of the last human being alive after the war that obliterated all life on Earth. The character was possibly born on Mars, because he has never have seen Earth, and lives his last days in a decaying vessel and dome with machines that make his survival possible, along with supplies brought by the Mars colonists, who were escaping the ravaging war back on Earth.

One of the machines that he has is the Dream Sequencer, a machine that makes it possible for him to relive past times in Earth's and humankind's history at will and the first part of The Universal Migrator album, entitled The Dream Sequencer, narrates many different experiences lived by him wile using such machine. He travels through many periods of time, but there are some periods that the main character gives special attention, which are the 21st century, the Renaissance (in the Netherlands and England), early Middle Ages (in the pre-colonial Americas and British Isles) and Antiquity/ Prehistory. Both the first and last tracks are very similar, possibly symbolizing the character's entering and exiting the fake dreams the Dream Sequencer creates.

Regarding the songs, musicianship and related features

Most songs that are in this album, both in part one and two, have a dark tone. However, unlike what many may think looking at the band's genre, all songs in the part one of The Universal Migrator are not progressive metal songs, but actually acoustic-driven progressive rock. Here, Arjen Lucassen really shows us how important Pink Floyd and Van der Graff Generator are important influences in his music: most songs have that dark mood and helplessness that are one of the most noticeable characteristic of both bands, besides the many obvious musical references, being the songs Dream Sequencer and Dream Sequencer Reprise the biggest examples of that, at least concerning Pink Floyd.

The part one of the Universal Migrator album, according to Arjen, was intended to be an acoustic album, but obviously that is impossible to be done with both the matter at hand (scientific fiction) and Ayreon's own style, so, despite the many electric instruments used throughout the album, such as electric guitars, basses and keyboards, there is an honest attempt to make the music sound as if it was an acoustic album: the timbre used on those instruments were not aggressive and there were extensive sampling of acoustic instruments by the keyboards, like string instruments (mostly of the violin family) and brass instruments. The organs were also used in an easygoing way with smooth timbres, as well as the synthesizers.

The album's quality is quite homogeneous, balanced and even: all songs are quite good and are able to make the album flow very smoothly. The highlights go to The Dream Sequencer, One Small Step, Temple Of The Cat, The First Man On Earth and The Dream Sequencer Reprise.

Grade and Final Thoughts

As he has done before and after this album, Arjen Anthony Lucassen is able to deliver us a great musical voyage through his cataclysmic future world. The Dream Sequencer is a great moody album that recreates masterfully the desolate atmosphere lived by the last human survivor inside his decaying technological home and coffin. The only downside of this album is that the part two of The Universal Migrator is unable to keep up with part one for not being as balanced.

CCVP | 4/5 |


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