Compared to Ayreon Arjen’s latest creative venture is less ambitious in scope. Lost In The New Real is a concept album, but it doesn’t have any of the typical Ayreon bombast of Into The Electric Castle or The Human Equation, nor is it as heavy as the last Star One album or as heavy handed as Guilt Machine. Arjen’s solo album can best be described as a tribute to his musical influences, such as Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, The Beatles and Deep Purple. This is nicely summarized in the cleverly titled “Pink Beatles In A Purple Zeppelin.”
Lost In The New Real is a double disc affair with disc one containing the actual story line. Renowned actor Rutger Hauer (Blade Runner, Sin City) acts as the narrator and it’s his parts that keep the whole album together. Arjen Lucassen played most of the instruments and provided all the vocals. He isn’t a powerhouse singer like Russell Allen (Symphony X) or Bruce Dickinson (Iron Maiden), but his Beatles/Bowie-inspired vocals blend nicely with the whole sixties and seventies vibe of the album.
The song material itself is very eclectic in nature. You’ll hear elements from folk music, progressive rock, metal, industrial and even some electronic effects here and there. It may seems a little far-fetched at first glance, but within the musical framework of Lost In The New Real it works nicely.
Sadly this album isn’t without its weaker moments either. Tracks like “Pink Beatles In A Purple Zeppelin,” “The New Real” and the title track are quite memorable, but “When I’m A Hundred Sixty-Four,” “Dr Slumber’s Eternity Home and “Where Pigs Fly” are a dime a dozen, especially compared to the high musical standards of Lucassen’s other projects.
The second disc is again a hit and miss affair. It’s a nice gesture to the fans to include lots of material that didn’t make the cut, but it’s kind of sad that the three strongest tracks are actually covers from Blue Oyster Cult (“Veteran Of The Psychic Wars”), Led Zeppelin (“Battle Of Evermore”) and Pink Floyd (“Welcome To The Machine”). Disc two certainly has it charms, but it doesn’t add much to the overall concept.
Lost In The New Real offers an interesting glimpse in the musical musings of Arjen Lucassen and it may offer a surprise or two for new fans. However, for long time Ayreonauts like yours truly it’s basically old news. Entertaining? Yes. Essential? Hardly.
(released May 8, 2012 on InsideOut Music)