|The Final Experiment (1995)
'The Final Experiment' is Arjen Lucassen's first rock opera. The full title is 'Ayreon: The Final Experiment' with no band-name given. Later on the label suggested the name Ayreon would be used for any similar projects by Arjen.
Actual Fantasy (1996)
The second CD released under the Ayreon name is 'Actual Fantasy'. It has no continuous story with a beginning and an end, but the CD's entire concept is fantasy. The songs are based on fantasy and sci-fi movies, or on stories Arjen wrote himself.
The first ten thousand copies of Actual Fantasy featured a bonus CD-rom track; a full-length animated video clip for 'Stranger From Within'. The second version of the CD featured two bonus tracks: 'The Dawn of Man' and the single version for 'Stranger From Within' replacing the video.
Into the Electric Castle (1998)
The third Ayreon release is a 100+ minute double CD and like 'The Final Experiment' it tells a story. Eight stereotypical characters from different eras in time suddenly find themselves in another dimension as subjects of an experiment conducted by an alien race.
The characters on 'Into the Electric Castle' are blown out of proportion. Arjen rented a few old B-movies for inspiration to see how Romans, Barbarians and Egyptians were stereotyped in those years. "I like this tongue in cheek-thing, although I take the music itself very seriously."
"Into The Electric Castle' is the most pleasant sounding album I've made so far', says Arjen. "And that is mainly due to the analog equipment I used. Like vintage synthesizers from the 70's, which still have that warm, instantly recognizable sound. I had enough of triggered drums, samples and prefab digital sounds. I'm a sucker for contradictions. 'Into The Electric Castle' is one to start with. But I also like the idea of telling a sci-fi story and using equipment that - in some cases - people might find out-dated."
Universal Migrator Part One: The Dream Sequencer &
Universal Migrator Part Two: The Flight of the Migrator (2000)
The Universal Migrator parts I & II were released at the same time, but were for sale independently. Part I: 'The Dream Sequencer' mainly features laid-back, atmospheric material with songs focussing on melody. Initially the album was meant to only feature female singers, but not enough singers were available so Arjen changed his plans.
Whereas 'Into the Electric Castle' has an opera-like set up, in which main characters sing dialogues in one song, on 'The Dream Sequencer' Arjen chose to have only one vocalist sing each song. As a result each new incarnation of the last Colonist on Mars, the main character of the story, has its own distinct personality.
Ayreonauts Only (2000)
'Ayreonauts Only' is a collection of previously unreleased Ayreon and Ayreon-related material. It is sold at a low price and meant to appeal specifically to die-hard fans of Ayreon. Some Ayreon tracks feature different singers, and others tracks are completely different (demo) versions of songs. The CD also features a preview of Ambeon, a new project that Arjen had started after finishing The Universal Migrator albums.
The Human Equation (2004)
In May 2003 Arjen managed to wrap up all Star One business, and retreated into his Electric Castle studio to work on the 6th Ayreon album called 'The Human Equation'.
"Initially I wanted to create something mellow as a reaction to the heavy Star One project, but as always… these things never really allow themselves to be planned. The musical direction of the new Ayreon is very diverse. As usual I take you from one extreme to another, but this time the quiet parts are even more quiet, the folky parts more folky, the proggy parts more proggy and the heavy parts more heavy! There are a few more major differences compared to the other Ayreon albums though..."
"First of all I decided to only work with musicians who had never guested on Ayreon before. The one exception to this rule was the use of drummer Ed Warby, for he had truly become a part of my sound and music. I chose a wide variety of singers from different styles of music and from all corners of the world, most of them quite original and surprising choices, I think. For details on how the recording sessions went, please take a look at the studio reports available on the website. I will tell you one thing: just as on 'Into the Electric Castle' there is a lot of 'dialogue singing' again; sometimes one song features up to ten different singers!"
"Secondly, I wanted to get away from the usual science fiction and fantasy concept in order to keep things fresh and original for both myself and the fans. Since 1995, when I released my first Ayreon album, a lot of other Sci-Fi and Fantasy projects have surfaced. So being the 'pig-headed git' I am, I decided to go against the grain once again and do something very different this time. Instead of venturing out in space, as most would have expected, I took a look inside man himself and explored the realm of emotions hidden within. So this time: no castles and aliens. Or..."
The Ayreon Re-Issues
After Arjen departed the Transmission label prior to The Human Equation release, Ayreon got a new home at InsideOut Germany. All albums had been sold out for quite some time, and InsideOut had to repress all editions. For this occasion Arjen created special editions.
(source: Official Ayreon Website)