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Best Of The Batch: Ayreon
Actual Fantasy Revisited
By MuzikMan
(more articles from this author)
2005-04-10
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Artist: Ayreon
Title: Actual Fantasy Revisited
Genre: Progressive Rock
Label: Inside Out
Website: www.arjenlucassen.com

I did not have the pleasure to hear Actual Fantasy in 1996. Nearly 10 years later, Arjen Lucassen decided to remake the progressive rock musical story. I had to watch the bonus DVD to understand what went into this project. Believe me, it was a pleasure to watch the DVD, not to mention listening to the Revisited version several times to appreciate all of the hard work that went into making the album again, or as Arjen says in the video, it’s a continuation or extension of the music.

After my initial listen, I was not as taken with this album as I usually am with recordings from the Lucassen catalog. I have nothing to compare this version to, as I said, I did not hear the original release. I considered how long ago this all came together and listened several times before coming up with a final assessment. I enjoyed it more with each listen; however, this is not Arjen’s best work. It is quite good, just not on the same level as The Human Equation or Into The Electric Castle. Realistically, that would not be fair to compare it to those two fine releases. In the interview at the studio were the album was recorded, Arjen explained that many of the parts of the album were rebuilt and replaced. He created new guitar parts and totally removed some sampling (some parts were actually lost), then replaced it with real drums to give it more warmth. It is evident that it came together quite well as the sound is sharp and full.

The video for “The Stranger from Within” is very cool. The effects of the innovative MTV video “Take On Me” from fellow Norwegians Ah-Ha are duplicated. I really enjoyed the visit with Arjen in the studio with his band. He takes the time to explain why he decided to remake the album and how he did it. It makes for a complete experience that unfolds before you on the CD. The bottom line is you get a better album with many more features including the option of listening to it in 5.1 surround sound on the DVD. It is a nice package that is well worth checking out.

Rating-9/10

CD

01. Actual Fantasy
02. Abbey of Synn
03. The Stranger from Within
04. Computer Eyes
05. Beyond the Last Horizon

06. Far Side of the World
09. Back on Planet Earth
10. Forevermore
11. The Dawn of Man

Bonus DVD

Actual Fantasy Revisited 2004 – 5.1 Surround Mix
Actual Fantasy 1996 – original version
Video clip The Stranger from Within – 5.1 & 2.0
Featurette: Recording drums, Bass and Guitar 2004

Credits:

Arjen A. Lucassen: Guitars, Keyboards, additional noises
Peter Vink: bass guitar
Ed Warby: drums
Ewa Alberink: Flute
Robert Soeterboek: Vocals
Edward Reekers: Vocals
Okkie Huysdens: Vocals
Cleem Determeyer: Synth solos
Rene Merkelbach: Hammond, synth solos

For more information and to contact the author, click on the author’s name at the top of the page.


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