Universal Migrator Part I & II

Label: Music Theories Recordings/Mascot Label Group
Three similar bands: Star One/Arjen Anthony Lucassen/Vengeance

Rating: HHHHHHH (7/7)
Reviewer: Daniel Källmalm
01 The Dream Sequencer
02 My House On Mars
03 2084
04 One Small Step
05 The Shooting Company Of Captain Frans B. Cocq
06 Dragon On The Sea
07 Temple Of The Cat
08 Burried By The Wind
09 And The Druids Turn To Stone
10 First Man On Earth
11 The Dream Sequencer Reprise
01 Chaos
02 Dawn Of A Million Souls
03 Journey On The Waves Of Time
04 To The Quasar
05 Into The Black Hole
06 Through The Wormhole
07 Out Of The White Hole
08 To The Solar System
09 The New Migrator

Arjen Lucassen - guitar, bass, keys, vocals (CD1 track 8)

The Final Experiment (1995)
Actual Fantasy (1996)
Into the Electric Castle (1998)
Universal Migrator Part 1: The Dream Sequencer (2000)
Universal Migrator Part 2: Flight of the Migrator (2000)
Ayreonauts Only (2000)
The Human Equation (2004)
01011001 (2008)
The Theory of Everything (2013)
The Theater Equation (2016)
The Source (2017)

Universe (2018)
Electric Castle Live and Other Tales(2020)

Transitus (2020)

Rob Snijders - drums
Erik Norlander - analog synthesizers, piano, vocoder, Hammond, and additional keyboards
Clive Nolan - synth solo on CD1 track 3
Peter Siedlach - strings
Ed Warby - drums
Erik Norlander - analog synthesizers, vocoder, Taurus pedal, Hammond, additional keyboards; synth solos on tracks 1, 3 (Hammond), 4, 5, 7
Michael Romeo - guitar solo on track 2
Oscar Holleman - second guitar solo on track 4
Gary Wehrkamp - guitar and synth solo on track 6
Rene Merkelbach - last synth solo on track 4
Clive Nolan - second synth solo on track 5
Keiko Kumagai - synth solo on track 9 (plus Hammond)
Peter Siedlach - strings
Lana Lane - backing vocals on tracks 4 and 5, vocals on tracks 1, 3 and 6
Johan Edlund - track 2
Floor Jansen - track 2
Edward Reekers - track 4
Mouse - track 5
Jacqueline Govaert - track 7
Damian Wilson - track 9
Neal Morse - track 10
Mark McCrite - backing vocals on track 10
Lana Lane - voice on track 1; backing vocals on tracks 4, 5, 6, and 9
Russell Allen - track 2
Damian Wilson - backing vocals on track 2
Ralf Scheepers - track 3
Andi Deris - track 4
Bruce Dickinson - track 5
Fabio Lione - track 6
Timo Kotipelto - track 7
Robert Soeterboek - track 8
Ian Parry - track 9

Recorded at The Electric Castle Studio
Arjen Lucassen - producer
Oscar Holleman - sound engineer
Stephen van Haestregt - sound engineer
Jacques Marcoux - sleeve design and layout for Flight of the Migrator (Part II)
Jef Bertels - cover art

Released 2022-11-18
Reviewed 2022-11-13



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I wrote in May when I reviewed Stand Atlantic’s latest effort that I would be surprised if anything would rival that for the album of the year 2022, I didn’t know that Ayreon was going to polish and reissue this. The Universal Migrator that was released in two separate albums called The Dream Sequencer and Flight of the Migrator, the first one was a dreamy progressive rock thing, and the second was a metal journey through space. Both albums traverse backwards through time with the first one visiting human events and the second one is on a more universal scale. These albums are also fun because it was my first encounter with Ayreon, the first two I bought, and they are still amongst my absolute favourites. So, what does it mean tampering with albums that hold such nostalgic value for me? Nothing really, my appreciation of the albums will be the same anyway, and it would be great if this is better, but is it?

I have written about Ayreon so many times that you can read anything of that if you want a more detailed picture of how it sounds, or just check out the videos. Most elements will be familiar to the Ayreon fan, like the atmospheres, the soundcapes and things like that – all the albums are unique, but with distinct elements that connect them. This pair of albums use one singer per song rather than the more operatic sung dialogue that most Ayreon songs showcase. That creates a slightly different way of storytelling, more like a narrator telling a story rather than playing out events like in the predecessor or the successors. The first disc is more dreamy and softer while the second is heavier, the remaster seems to bring a bit more punch to the songs and a more alive and dynamic sound to the whole.

The many singers are all very strong, with Ian Parry for his performance on One Small Step or Johan Edlund’s magical singing in My House on Mars as the highlights of the vocalists. There are many great singers throughout the 136 minutes this album goes on, none of them are bad. Still, I think it is the instrumental sides of this album that really shine, like that majesty in My House on Mars, or the heavy riffing in Into the Black Hole, there are so many such magical parts through this album. So many fantastic songs, did I for example mention that Bruce Dickinson does his best vocal performance ever on this album? Well, he does.

I can’t really claim that this is the best album of 2022, as it was actually released in 2000. But this remastering and remixing has certainly given it a whole new life, then I don’t really think reissuing and reprinting albums forever is a good thing. It is like most other things a waste of resources, not that anyone cares that we are well on track for Ayreon’s 2084 doomsday considering how we waste resources in our daily lives. Perhaps we are all living in an Arjen Lucassen created work of performance art, and at the end the year 2084 he will sit in his house on Mars and view through his telescope how The Earth will end. And as I like art, I have already contributed to it breaking my wow to not buy another physical record this year; who can skip this one? Fortunately for my economy the fatter releases were already sold out at Mascot.

This is better than it was in its original guise, and I say that even though I have enjoyed the originals for more than half my life and they were my presentation to Ayreon. But from now on the old disks will probably gather dust and I will enjoy listening to this fresh new take on these wonderful songs that takes us back through time in a 136 minute long adventure that seems to be way too short. Add to that the best artwork on any Ayreon album, and it doesn’t get much better than this.