Transmission 1996 / Aluca Music 2006
Anonymous adventures of AYREON auteur in the land of the ’60s psych.
Arjen Lucassen may have called his flagship project’s debut “The Final Experiment” yet it didn’t stop the Dutchman from testing the waters in other ways. Going beyond his obvious influences in hard rock and prog, “Strange Hobby” had no name attached to it originally, just a question mark, and was recorded not only for the artist’s own pleasure but also in order to try out various arrangements as well as to see whether one could succeed on the songs’ strength alone. As a result, commercial failure, this album is an interesting hodgepodge of ideas – some adding a twist to classic pieces, some eating away at their mood.
Although Lucassen hardly enhanced “Flowers In The Rain” and “Sunny Afternoon” in any significant way, the hefty riffs he applied to “For No One” or “Arnold Layne” suit them well, whereas “The Letter” and “Bus Stop” have lost their innocence in Arjen’s hands in order to gain a sharp edge. A newly fashioned lysergic angle giving “I Am A Rock” and Dylan’s “I Want You” an eye-popping color, and bluesy squeal making “Norwegian Wood” mind-boggling, it’s “In The Room Of Percussion” – with Peter Daltrey of KALEIDOSCOPE on vocals – that takes old psych in the realms of today, while the Dutchman’s own “Pretty Girls” – one of four bonuses here – perfectly fits the retro context.
For all the scattered nature of it all, the material is nicely sequenced, lyrically and melodically, to create a sort of concept flow, so there’s a great tangent to the AYREON and STAR ONE course of Lucassen’s career. Yes, this record may seem strange to Arjen’s fans, yet it provides an insight into his grand operas.