The Source (2LP Vinyl)

SKU: 819873014522
Label:
Music Theories Recordings
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While Ayreon’s ‘Forever/Planet Y’ saga seemed to have reached its conclusion with the album 01011001, it’s clear that Arjen Lucassen’s creative muses had other plans. The new Ayreon album The Source revisits the Forever saga, adding a whole new chapter to Lucassen’s impressive body of work. With its top-flight cast of singers and musicians, compelling songs, overwhelming sound, and intriguing story, The Source offers everything that has gained Lucassen dedicated fans worldwide since he laid the foundations of Ayreon back in the mid 90’s.

“Whenever I start something new, I usually have a solo album in mind”, Arjen Lucassen explains. “It gives me the freedom to go any direction I want. All options are still open, with regards to sound and style. This time around I initially felt that a new Star One album was appearing on the horizon because the guitars were so dominant. But after the first flutes and violins showed up, I realized I had a new Ayreon album in the making.”

This album, to be released on April 28, saw Lucassen’s creative process take an unusual twist. Normally, finding and assembling the album artwork comes very late in the process, long after the music is finished. But to gain inspiration he began looking for artwork very early on, after writing just the first few songs.

“While Googling I found the website of the French artist Yann Souetre. Right from the start I was fascinated by his imagery. It was industrial and futuristic at the same time. I was particularly captivated and inspired by a portrait of a woman under water, hooked up to various tubes. Not long after that I had an overall theme, a story line, and a visual aesthetic for the album. I contacted Yann, and after we agreed that his artwork would be available for the album, I continued composing songs with confidence and a clear vision.”

The Story of The Source is set six billion years in the past relative to Earth. It begins on Planet Alpha, a world in the Andromeda system where computer intelligence has far surpassed that of humanity.  Alpha is facing a massive global crisis, with ecological and political catastrophes threatening all human life. The Alphans (our human ancestors) try to save their planet by entrusting the global computer mainframe—The ‘Frame—to find a solution. Given total control of the planet, the ‘Frame reaches the logical conclusion that its creators are the cause of all the trouble. The only way to solve Alpha’s problems is to exterminate humanity. This leaves the Alphans no other option than to try and escape their horrific fate. But their escape comes at a terrible price.

“The most dramatic segment on the album is the song Condemned To Live. There is just one ship that is capable of making the journey to a new planet, and it can only carry a handful of people. So only those who have essential skills or other useful qualities are allowed to join. All the others have to stay behind. Those who are allowed to leave are, as the title goes, “Condemned To Live”, as they must wrestle with the unimaginable anguish of leaving their families—and the entire Alphan civilization—behind to certain doom.”

It’s the beginning of a story that contains everything that has made the Ayreon epics so endlessly fascinating all these years. First there are the musical riches, then there is the layered story line. It can all be interpreted as strict science fiction, but Arjen Lucassen doesn’t shy away from making references to actual events.

“I usually get inspired by scientific documentaries and facts. Just recently I heard that by around the year 2050, artificial intelligence will have surpassed human intellectual capacities, the ‘Technical Singularity’. What will the consequences be for humanity? I spend a lot of time thinking and philosophizing about this fascinating subject, and sooner or later some of these musings usually find their way onto my albums. Of course, everything is a product of my imagination, but at the same time I’d like to think that my stories could actually happen, at least theoretically!”

Arjen Lucassen strives to make every Ayreon album a contrast to the one before. “If The Theory of Everything was my prog album, then The Source is my rock album. It’s more guitar oriented, which makes it heavier than previous Ayreon releases.  The Source is also more ‘accessible’ than The Theory of Everything: the songs are structured more conventionally, and the melodies are catchier.”

The title of The Source invites various interpretations. It’s a reference to water—the source of life—and the water planet where the escaping Alphans find a safe new home after their long, arduous journey. The Source also points to the origins of humanity and the question of where we come from. The title also hints at the role that the album itself plays in the whole Ayreon catalogue. Given that it is a prequel, it can be thought of as the source of the entire Ayreon epic.

The international status of Ayreon enables Arjen Lucassen to write his characters with some of the most respected singers in rock in mind: James LaBrie (Dream Theater), Tommy Giles Rogers (Between the Buried and Me), Simone Simons (Epica), Mike Mills (Toehider), Floor Jansen (Nightwish), Hansi Kürsch (Blind Guardian), Michael Eriksen (Circus Maximus), Tobias Sammet (Edguy, Avantasia), Nils K. Rue (Pagan's Mind), Zaher Zorgati (Myrath), Tommy Karevik (Kamelot) and Russell Allen (Symphony X). Special contributions were offered by guitarists Paul Gilbert (Mr. Big), Guthrie Govan (The Aristocrats, Asia, Steven Wilson), Marcel Coenen and keyboard player Mark Kelly (Marillion).

Just as on his previous albums, The Source has Arjen Lucassen playing a wide variety of instruments, while the inimitable Ed Warby (o.a. Elegy, Gorefest, Hail Of Bullets) once again masterfully handles the drums.

“For quite a while it was a self-imposed rule to avoid inviting a singer more than once for an Ayreon. I have a very close relationship with my audience, and frequently found them wishing that this vocalist or the other could have been present on my previous album. I then realized that my self-imposed limitation was doing the fans a disservice. That’s why The Source features many vocalists who have already sung on an Ayreon album before. In fact, about half of the singers made their debut on an Ayreon album.”

The Source adds a compelling new chapter to a career that began in the mid-nineties in a cloud of doubt and uncertainty. After years of gigging and making records with Dutch hard rock bands Bodine and Vengeance, guitarist Arjen Lucassen set out to create his own rock opera—including all the bells and whistles—inspired by the works that he cherished in his younger years: The Who’s Tommy, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Jesus Christ Superstar and Jeff Wayne’s The War of The Worlds. In the post-grunge era, the audacious ambitions of the tall Dutchman were met with stony indifference by most record labels. But Lucassen persevered and eventually his debut Ayreon offering, The Final Experiment, was released and managed to reach a huge international audience. The rock opera was back!

Following the success of The Final Experiment, new Ayreon albums arrived every few years. Their musical impact was such that they all became successful in their own right, even though Lucassen—a self-proclaimed recluse—chose not to promote the albums with live shows. Instead he opted to remain safely within the walls of his private studio The Electric Castle to work long days on his musical projects. Most of his albums have appeared under his Ayreon-moniker, but he also allows himself the occasional lyrical and musical sidestep with other projects such as Ambeon, Stream of Passion, Guilt Machine, The Gentle Storm, and Star One. Whatever he’s done and whatever name he’s used, it’s all been embraced by a loyal community of international fans.

2017 will be a particularly exciting year for Ayreon fans thanks to a unique chance to actually see Ayreon live. Limited to three exclusive performances, “The Ayreon Universe” will take place in September in the prestigious 013 venue in Tilburg, Holland. This unprecedented live event features the best of twenty years of Ayreon music, brought to life by a top cast of musicians such as Floor Jansen (Nightwish), Russell Allen (Symphony X), Damian Wilson (Threshold), Hansi Kürsch (Blind Guardian), Tommy Karevik (Kamelot), Jonas Renkse (Katatonia), Anneke van Giersbergen and various others. The reclusive Arjen Lucassen himself is also expected to make a rare appearance on stage. The tickets for all concerts – 9000 in total – sold out within a day, proving once again that the Ayreon magic is still very much alive and kicking.

The Source is the first Ayreon album to be released by the renowned Dutch record company Mascot Label Group/Music Theories Recordings, which could be considered a new beginning for all things Ayreon. “Let me start by saying that I always make every effort to create the best Ayreon album possible. This time was no exception. I really wanted to deliver the goods, and I hope I did! I’ve got a very good feeling about it, mainly because of the way everything seemed to fall easily into place with this album. I’ve only experienced that twice before, with Into The Electric Castle and The Human Equation. The music, the story, the artwork and most of all the fantastic guest musicians just came together very naturally.”

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  • Let me preface my observations of the CTTE remix by saying that I don’t put these classic albums on a pedestal.  If they can be sonically improved while remaining faithful to the original mix and maintaining musicality and the emotional content then I’m all for it.  In general I liked what Steven Wilson did with the King Crimson catalog.  I was particularly impressed by his reconstruction and resurrection of Lizard.  When I heard he was tackling the Yes catalog I was hopeful because if there was ever a band that could use some sonic wizardry its Yes.  Eddy Offord was never able to bring the magic to their mixes that he was able to give to ELP.So how did Steven Wilson do with CTTE?  I can only use one word to describe the new mix: “transformative”.  CTTE was an album cobbled together from various bits and pieces.  Its widely acknowledged to be the band’s best album (its certainly my opinion) but in terms of sonics it fell victim to the “too many cooks” syndrome.  The original mix was a bit of a mess.  Its all changed now.The one thing that is immediately apparent is the foundation provided by Chris Squire’s bass.  It reaches the pits of hell and if Mr. Wilson is going to take this approach with TFTO and Relayer he’s got my vote.  In general there is a veil of schmutz that has been wiped away.  All the instruments have more clarity and focus in the soundstage.  “I Get Up I Get Down” was chilling.  I found the soundstage consistently extended beyond the boundaries of my speakers.  The mix is warm, involving and there is a balance among the instruments that I found lacking in the original mix - primarily because of Squire’s bass being given a shot of adrenaline.  Jaw dropping stuff.  The bonus track of “America” had exceptional, dare I say audiophile sound.So the obvious question is - what sounds better - this mix or the SACD?  I dunno.  I can’t find my bloody SACD to compare…but here is my memory of the SACD.  When I got it I played it through.  It didn’t overwhelm me or disappoint me.  My thought was “its fine...it is what it is - this is the best it will ever sound in the digital domain”.  I was wrong.  BUY OR DIE!  FORMAT: 1 x CD/1 x Blu-RayCD:1  Close to the Edge2  And You And I3  Siberian KhatruBonus Tracks:4  America5  Close to the EdgeBlu-Ray:Presented in DTS-HD Master Audio– Album mixed in 5.1 Surround– New Album mix– Original Album  mix (flat transfer)– New Album mix (instrumental version)– America original, new & instrumental stereo mixes & 5.1 Surround + further audio extras some exclusive to Blu-Ray edition• Close to the Edge is the first in a series of remixed & expanded Yes Classics• The classic album has been mixed for 5.1 Surround Sound from the original studio masters by Steven Wilson (Porcupine Tree) & is fully approved by Yes.• CD features a completely new stereo album mix by Steven Wilson• CD also features a new mix of America• CD also features an early mix/assembly of Close to the Edge• Blu-Ray features 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio Surround (24bit/96khz) mixed from the original multi-channel recordings.• Blu-Ray features the new stereo album mix in DTS-HD Master Audio (24bit/96khz).• Blu-Ray also features the original album mix & America in a DTS-HD Master Audio flat transfers from the original master tape source. (24bit/192khz)• Blu-Ray exclusively features instrumental versions of all new mixes in DTS-HD Master Audio stereo (24bit/96khz).• Blu-Ray also exclusively features a needle-drop of an original UK vinyl A1/B1 pressing transferred in 24bit/96khz audio.• Numerous audio extras appear in high-resolution stereo including single edits & studio run throughs of album tracks• Original artwork by Roger Dean who has also overseen the artwork for this new edition• Presented as a mini vinyl replica gatefold card sleeve with booklet containing new sleeve notes, rare photos & archive material.“Close to the Edge” is the first in a series of expanded Yes editions including 5.1 Surround mixes, new stereo mixes & High-Resolution stereo mixes of the original music along with a wealth of extra material. Acclaimed musician/producer Steven Wilson has produced the new mixes with the approval of the band, while Roger Dean reprises his role as art director/designer of the newly issued edition, making this the definitive edition of the album.When Yes entered the studio with Eddie Offord to record the band’s fifth studio album in mid-1972, their second with this line-up, the band was on something of a roll. “Fragile”, the band’s previous album, had taken Yes to a new level of international popularity with Top Ten chart placement on both sides of the Atlantic & yielding a hit single in the USA with ‘Roundabout’. The band was now established in the major music markets to an extent that was, perhaps, unexpected given the complexity of the music Yes performed. But with that popularity came a confidence that the expansive material of the two previous albums could be taken a stage further with the new recording. Rather than consolidating, Yes chose to innovate.Recorded during lengthy sessions at London’s Advision Studios, “Close to the Edge” is that rarity in recorded music, the sound of a band & its individual members writing, playing and recording at the peak of their collective abilities. The album was issued in Autumn 1972 reaching chart highs & platinum sales status of  4 in the UK, 3 in the USA & 1 in Holland, though such statistics only hint at the worldwide popularity of the album over a period of more than four decades. The three pieces of music, the title track which spanned the entire first side of the vinyl album with ‘And You And I’ & ‘Siberian Khatru’ on side two, have remained concert favourites since release, with the 2013 Yes line-up currently in the middle of a world tour stretching into the middle of next year that sees the album performed in its entirety.The album remains the favourite among many of the band’s legion of fans, a defining recording both for the band & for the progressive rock movement. It is also one of the most successful British rock albums ever released.Since this release of “Close to the Edge” was confirmed, the various websites dedicated to Yes, Progressive rock & high-resolution audio have been very active with discussions among fans keen to hear the new mixes & the existing material in its purest audio presentation. 
    $21.00