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Arjen Lucassen - Lost in the New RealA few years back when Guilt Machine released, Arjen Lucassen (of—deep breath—Ayreon, Star One, Arjen Lucassen, Guilt Machine, Galexia, Stream of Passion, Vengeance, Ambeon and a myriad of other projects I probably don’t even know exist) is reported to have said that if he’d had to do it over again, Ayreon would have sounded like Guilt Machine. Whether that was just talk in the build up for a new record or not, it appears that to a certain extent he meant it, as his new Lost in the New Real sounds like the combination of the two projects. On the one hand, Lost in the New Real is a concept record and (faux) double album, featuring the dulcet tones of Rutger Hauer as narrator and “psychologist,” like one would expect from an Ayreon record. However, like Guilt Machine, the record features primarily only one vocalist (Arjen himself), and the music is largely a post-Pink Floyd progressive rock heavy with atmospherics and sweet, but melancholic, melodies. As a fan of Guilt Machine and not of Ayreon, I can say that I was curious to see how this sort of combination would work and I was pleasantly surprised.

Musically, Lost in the New Real, isn’t really wandering too far afield for this prolific Dutchman. I think that anyone who is a fan of the man’s previous work will hear immediately who it is that has written this music. But what Lucassen seems to be going for here is a strange and very referential mix of melodic progressive rock with all of the music and culture (primarily American, but also English) that his little poofy-haired Dutch (cheese)head sucked up during his youth. Not counting the 5 covers on disc two, including of Led Zeppelin’s classic “Battle of Evermore,” the references to 60s and 70s rock are thick on this record, including “Pink Beatles in a Purple Zeppelin” and “When I’m a Hundred Sixty-Four,” but also “Where Pigs Fly,” is just filled with counterfactuals—many of them being quite specific to the American context over a jaunty folk sounding tune (“Elvis was a vegan / Dylan never got stoned,” etc.).

Arjen Lucassen - 2012The other thing this is thick with what appears to be an older musician’s coping with the new world at his fingertips, if you will. References to downloading culture (“I remember the old days, on the digital seas / It was a time when pirates ruled the waves!”) in “E-Police,” conspiracy theories about controlling the world’s population in “Parental Procreation Permit” (this also has a main riff that is similar to Lucassen’s go-to-drummer Ed Warby’s mighty “In the Silent Grave” from Burden of Grief). He even goes so far as to reference the theories that Yellowstone holds a massive, deadly volcano on “Yellowstone Memorial Day.” And, on the second disc he works with the increasing individualization that the Internet allows in our social relations—specifically referring to the ability to start friendships “without obligation,” on “The Social Recluse.” I can only imagine this Lucassen drifting around the Internet sucking up this horribly frightening material and thinking “Ooo, dystopian concept album!”

And surprisingly enough, while this record threatens to get long at times at two CDs and 1 and a half hours, I actually really enjoyed both CDs quite a bit. Lucassen’s strength has always been his writing of melodies and use of instrumentation, and Lost in the New Real doesn’t disappoint even a little bit. Every song is built on catchy, pop-inspired melodies and choruses—though at times it does wander into heavier material or material that sounds like it could have been straight off the Guilt Machine record (specifically the title track “Lost in the New Real” and one of my favorite’s from the record “Our Imperfect Race” or the chorus on “So Is There No God?”). The covers (Pink Floyd, Blue Oyster Cult, Alan Parsons Project, Zeppelin and Zappa) fill out the second half, where Arjen said to me that he had music he just liked too much to not put on the CD, and they make a good counterpoint to Lucassen’s own material. I think the only song I didn’t like really at all was “I’m the Slime,” which is a Frank Zappa cover. Me and that guy never really have seen eye to eye.

Aside from the dated references, though—which make it hard for an album to age well, in my opinion—Lost in the New Real is a remarkably enjoyable prog rock record from one of the brightest musical minds of our generation. Lucassen’s output in the last few years has changed, but I think it’s improved with this album, Star One’s last one and Guilt Machine under his belt. Arjen seems to be moving into a golden age of self-reflection, and it seems to be doing wonders for his musical creations. Worth a purchase, just for Rutger Hauer’s fantastic voice, too. Man, that guy’s got a great voice.


Hailing from Poland, Riverside have been putting out consistently great music for many years now. It’d be nearly impossible to define what category of “prog rock” they exactly fall under, but that’s what make them stand out from the crowd. They are one of those bands that have such a unique sound that it is easy to immediately identify them, an increasingly rare talent these days.

So upon receiving a copy of their new album Shrine Of New Generation Slaves, I knew I was in for something special, something that would challenge me. But have they delivered once again or did they fall fail to live up to their past greatness? Read on below for my thoughts!

Opening with “New Generation Slave”, the album begins slowly with gentle passages interspersed with dynamically heavy moments. Then, halfway through, things slam into full force and it’s straight into heavy prog rock territory.

The current single, “Celebrity Touch”, is a great example of the changes of the album. The opening and verse have a very Kansas-esque feel, albeit a tad heavier. The bridge then delves into some gorgeous Porcupine Tree territory and while a guitar solo during the song could easily be mistaken as a guest appearance from David Gilmour.

“We Got Used To Us” might be considered the ballad of the album, featuring heartbreaking delayed piano chords, silky smooth bass lines, and sexy guitar leads. Meanwhile, the opening to “Feel Like Falling” sounds like it came right out of an 80’s John Carpenter score. And the introduction to “Escalator Shrine” has a strong, old-Eastern European flair to it,

The thing that I noticed with this album is that as each track progresses there are more styles and influences. There is jazz, hard rock, classic prog rock, modern prog rock, metal, and more. From moments of intensity to sheer beauty to seductive smoothness, this album ebbs and flows with the greatest of ease from one style to another.

Serious props need to be given to vocalist/bassist Mariusz Duda for being so dynamic and creative with the bass. He shifts from using the bass as a lead instrument to diving back into the pocket with such effortlessness that it’s mindboggling.

The Final Word: If you want an album full of mystery and seduction while tickling all your prog rock desires, Riverside’s Shrine Of New Generation Slaves is one of the best releases for you. This is an album that kicks off 2013 in all the right ways.


Edinburgh-based post-proggers North Atlantic Oscillation return this month with second album Fog Electric, out April 30 via KScope. You’ll find Prog‘s verdict on the new release in our upcoming issue that hits the shops next Wednesday (April 18), but in the meantime get a taster here with the video for new single Soft Coda.

NAO will also join labelmates Mothlite at a one-off show, KScope’s A Night At The Tabernacle, in London on May 2. The gig will celebrate both band’s new albums – Mothlite’s Dark Age is out April 14 – and provide a chance to showcase material in a fantastic historical venue, just as 2011′s A Night At The Union Chapel did with Anathema, The Pineapple Thief, Engineers and No Sound. Tickets are £12 and available from The Tabernacle online.


Sample the album here:

Thanks to the highly anticipated debut of the “Looper” teaser trailer Thursday, there is almost two minutes of brand-new, action-packed footage to overanalyze and dissect. We’ve already highlighted five key scenes to watch out for in the teaser, and now, MTV News is proud to bring you exclusive expert commentary from the film’s writer/director, Rian Johnson.

Johnson was visibly excited for fans to see the teaser, particularly the first glimpses of the gritty future reality of the film’s setting and star Joseph Gordon-Levitt in action as a young Bruce Willis.

“The beginning here is just setting up the premise,” Johnson explained. “We take some time to get you into the world. You can kind of tell from the look of it that the world is a very grounded science-fiction world; it’s not a big CG world. We did lots of practical stuff and tried to keep it feeling very real and near-future.”

With regard to Gordon-Levitt’s makeup to look like Willis, Johnson said, although he looks impressive in the teaser, he can’t wait for fans to see the “Dark Knight Rises” actor’s physical performance in the finished film.

“I really can’t wait for people to actually see Joe’s performance in the movie with the makeup, because if you see a picture of him … obviously it’s not like he looks exactly like Bruce Willis, but once his performance plays out in the context of the film, it really works.”

Johnson also hinted that, despite the blink-and-you-miss-it appearance of co-star Emily Blunt, there is more to her role than you think.

“You see a quick clip of Emily Blunt, [but] there’s a whole sequence where she had to do some action work and she just kinda kicked ass. I’m excited for people to see it,” Johnson said. “Emily really held her own when it was time to get out the shotgun and do some blasting.”

The “Brick” director went on to say that he just had a plain old good time making the film, particularly the action sequences, for which veteran star Willis proved to be a very key component.

“It was fun for me. You see flashes of a lot of action in the movie, and this is the first time I’ve been able to do it on that scale, which is really fun, especially working with a veteran like Bruce,” Johnson said. “Joe had a lot of fun working with Bruce on the action scenes. Bruce kind of showed us the ropes. It was pretty awesome.”


Do you need some serious electronic angst in your ultra sweet bubble gum pop music?  Perhaps Reidiculous’ remix of “Call Me Maybe” by up and coming Canadian singer Carly Rae Jepsen is just what you need.  Integrating the infectious strings of the original with a gyrating thumping dance beat and stadium elements, Reidiculous serve the track up in an effort to translate it to all those popsters that are filling up your floors hoping to dance to “Starships” and “Part of Me”.  Well now they can have this, as well.  With the amount of attention “Call Me Maybe” is receiving, make sure to check out Carly’s EP, Curiosity, which has additional tracks that would sound excellent on the dance floor.  For now, here’s a little clubby pop to hopefully shake your groove thing to.

Audio only:

Norwegian outfit AIRBAG refer to 2005 as being their formative year. These high school friends have been playing together under this moniker before that as well – they were actually formed in 1994, and the current line-up has ben in place since 1999 – but for the band 2005 heralds the start, or perhaps fresh start, as a band.
They released their first EP the same year, Sounds That I Hear. Blending influences from acts such as a-ha, Porcupine Tree and Pink Floyd, they managed to create a sonic expression defying normal genre convencions – and allowing the release to be freely downloadable from their website was a smart move: In the first few months more than 10.000 people got the EP, and Airbag established a good-sized, international fanbase.
In 2007 a second EP was issued, Safetree. Like the previous production this one too was freely downloadable, and further extended their popularity among a internet-savvy fanbase. 2007 also saw Airbag’s debut as a live outfit, opening for acts like Pineapple Thief, Gazpacho and Riverside.
In 2009 they were signed by Karisma Records, and their debut album Identity was issued. This time as a regular commercial production. The release of their debut effort saw the band withdraw their previous EPs, as many of the tracks on those efforts found their way onto their first full length venture – albeit in more or less refined versions.
The current line-up is Asle Tostrup (vocals) Bjørn Riis (guitars, vocals), Jørgen Hagen (keyboards), Anders Hovdan (bass) and Joachim Slikker (drums).



Buried within the pile of gadgets at Oregon Scientific’s CES booth were these two Time & Wireless Charging Stations. On the left we have the entry-level clock that’s already out in the market, whereas the bigger “plus” model on the right made its debut at the show, boasting the extra clock projection and weather forecast feature. Also shown along side were the customized iPhone 4 Qisleeves that Oregon Scientific will be offering online, and they actually had pretty high quality finish, too, especially with the texture coating on top of them. Do take a closer look in our hands-on photos below.

Subsignal is a progressive rock band. The band was originally formed as a side project by Sieges Even members Arno Menses (vocals) and Markus Steffen (guitars). After Sieges Even disbanded, Menses and Steffen recruited former Dreamscape members Ralf Schwager (bass), David Bertok (keyboards) and Suncaged drummer Roel van Helden to complete the line-up.

Check out their new album “Touchstones”:

Ender's Game (Ender Wiggin Series #1)Although this book was published almost 25 years ago, it is a fine time to pick it up before the release of the theatrical version in 2013.

Children’s Literature

This twenty-five-year-old science fiction classic has been repackaged for younger readers. Unlike many hard-core science fiction titles, this book is particularly appropriate for a younger audience, for its protagonist, Ender Wiggin, is just six years old at the novel’s beginning and still a pre-teen at its end. Ender’s parents have received a special dispensation to have a third child in spite of strict population control laws. His brilliant older siblings, Peter and Valentine, have each showed great promise, but each falls just short of having “the right stuff.” The International Fleet (I.F.) believes that Ender may be the commander they need to lead great armies against invasion by alien “buggers.” When Ender does exhibit the desired combination of compassion and cruelty, the I.F. takes him to the distant Battle School, where brilliant children are trained in military strategy and tactics. The centerpiece of their education is a simulated battle game at which Ender quickly excels, eventually becoming the youngest commander in history. Life at Battle School, especially these battle games, is richly described. Ender is portrayed as just a pawn in the larger game being played by the I.F., and readers will alternately sympathize with his exploitation and cheer when he is able to make friends in spite of the tremendous forces working to isolate and dehumanize him. The political and philosophical material at the novel’s end may get too heavy for some readers, but for the most part, this novel will deservedly reach a new generation through this new edition. —Norah Piehl


TOUCHSTONE are a five piece UK Progressive Rock band formed by Rob Cottingham and Adam Hodgson. The band has developed in many ways since the early days, and morphed into the present line up with Andre P (Moo) Mooghen on Bass Guitar, Alasdair Melville on drums and vocalist, Kim Seviour. – ProgArchives

I have been listening to this band for over 5 years now and they just keep getting better. Their new album, “The City Sleeps” shows that they are hitting their stride on target and I surely hope to hear more from them in the future. Catch the wave and give Touchstone a listen, you won’t be disappointed.