Ayreon – 01011001

After almost four years, Arjen Anthony Lucassen released the new Ayreon album, 01011001. My guess is that Arjen decided this would be the album that would connect all Ayreon stories, from the blind minstrel to the last migrator. And it does. Unfortunately, from a musical stand point, the album fails to deliver anything impressive.

The songs are completely unimaginative. Sometimes, when not paying attention to the lyrics, I thought I was hearing some other Ayreon album. The same rhythm, the same sounds… nothing new. And when Hansi Kürsch sings, it really feels like you are listening to Blind Guardian, not Ayreon (in contrast, when Mike Baker sung in “The Human Equation”, you didn’t feel like listening to Shadow Gallery. And I would dare to say that when James LaBrie sung in the same album, it also didn’t feel like Dream Theater.)

So far, I would say that’s the weakest of all the albums. But who knows, maybe that was the idea, to give people some context for the next album…

The hidden cost of buying digital products online

Today I had my first experience using a digital music provider system. I was there, with my MacBook in front of me, listening to the same old songs and there was that “Store” option right in the screen. “What the hell,” I thought. “It may not be all that bad.” So, after browsing some bands, all which had things I already had or not so interesting albums, I decided to buy the latest “Shadow Gallery” album, “Prime Cuts.”

There is one thing weird about online shopping for things you don’t see. There is no waiting for boxes, no cashing you must take out of your wallet… And iTunes also makes the process of paying completely invisible: you provide your credit card information on account creation and it is never displayed again. So you don’t see your money going out and you don’t see things coming in; ok, maybe your playlist will get larger, but you don’t get that plastic box that you throw out a few months later because you ripped the album anyway and bout a larger storage for your CDs. But, in essence, it is a completely empty process (in what you feel when paying and receiving.)

It is so completely invisible that I manage to buy three more albums before getting worried about how much I was wasting. “Carved in Stone” and “Tyranny“, also by Shadow Gallery. “Crystalline Dreams” and “Alaska” are the awesome songs in the first album (and if Alaska doesn’t use that namesake song as their anthem, they should have their heads examinated, as the lyrics makes you want to move to Alaska.) And “Synthesize” by “Information Society“, a band I thought was dead in the beginnings of the 90s. Still doesn’t sound as “popper” as InSoc was in the end of the 80s, sounding more like techno but hey, it is still InSoc and they sound almost like before, being not so depressive as “Don’t Be Afraid.”