Ayreon – Ayreonauts OnlyAmbeon project, which was still in progress at the time of the release of Ayreonauts Only.
The album is currently out of print, and considered a collecter’s item for Ayreon fans.
Anneke van Giersbergen
Astrid van der Veen
Ernst van Ee
Stephen van Haestregt
When I was in Los Angeles Lana Lane was kind enough to sing guide vocals for (amongst other songs) ‘Into the Black Hole’. I sent this version to Bruce Dickinson and he really liked the song and Lana’s vocals. But Bruce was extremely busy recording with Maiden so until the very last moment he wasn’t sure if he could find the time to come to my place and sing it. So when Damian flew in from England to sing ‘And the Druids turn to Stone’ he was finished within the hour as usual. Then I had him do backing vocals to ‘Dawn of a Million Souls’ but there was still a lot of time left! So then I had the spontaneous idea to have him sing ‘Black Hole’ too and if Bruce couldn’t make it I would have a great version for the album anyway. But obviously Bruce did make it (and a fabulous job he did!) and so I had two other great versions of the song lying around. I then decided to make a mix of Lana’s and Damian’s vocals. I’m sure you will like the result, I know I do!
Robert Soeterboek, my good friend and musical companion for many years now who sang on almost all of my Ayreon albums sang guide vocals for ‘White Hole’. I still remember Timo’s reaction when he heard Robert’s version I sent him: “Perkele (Finnish curse)! This guy sounds more like Coverdale than Coverdale himself!”. And Timo was concerned that he was supposed to sing it exactly like Robert, but of course Timo has got an entirely different voice and did a marvelous job as I’m sure you will agree in his own distinctive way. So the great thing about this version is that it is sung so different from the album version you know, but just as good in my opinion.
Ian Parry, another friend of mine (from the Vengeance days) really helped me out by doing guide vocals to a couple of songs of the Flight album. What a true professional this guy is. He raged into the studio like a whirlwind and a couple of hours later he was finished. Out of the three songs he did I like his version of ‘Wormhole’ best, and you’ll find that again it is quite different from Fabio’s version. Now here it is for all to hear.
After Vengeance stopped in 1992 I formed this band called Plan Nine (later Planet Nine, because there was already a band called Plan Nine). We had Robert Soeterboek on vocals, Peter Vink (Q65, Finch, Ayreon) on bass and Cleem Determeyer (Finch, Ayreon) on keyboards. Unfortunately we never managed to get a deal because those were tough days for “our kind of music”.
The instrumental song ‘Carpe Diem’ was meant for this band. This version is a 4 track home demo I recorded in 1992 with a drum computer. I still remember I had to play all the guitar parts from start to end in one take because I couldn’t punch in on this old fashioned tape recorder.
I had this track lying around for 8 years and I never used it because in my eyes, er…ears it was a bit too heavy for Ayreon. But when I decided to do the heavy ‘Flight’ album I re-recorded this song and changed the title to ‘Chaos’ to fit the Universal Migrator concept. Of course the quality of this simple home recording is way below Ayreon standards but I just thought it would be interesting for you to hear the original demo version. Of course it doesn’t have that brilliant drum solo by Ed Warby…
This newly recorded version of Temple of the Cat is sung by that prodigious young talent Astrid van der Veen of my new band Ambeon, for details please read the notes to song 11: Cold Metal. When you are used to the version on the Dream Sequencer you will probably have to get used to this version, because you’ll find that Astrid sung it in her own special way. I know I should not compare these two versions, but in my opinion this acoustic version is even better than the original. This is the way I wanted this song to sound.
The part of the Hippie on the Electric castle was originally sung by Mouse, who later sang on the Dream Sequencer album also. Due to unforeseen problems his vocals weren’t used on ITEC and I sung the part of the Hippie myself. These problems have now been solved and luckily I still found some of his vocals on tape. I personally think they are far too good never to see the light of day, so I turned them into a nice Hippie medley. Dammit, listening back to it I feel he did a better job than me!
Oh, and by the way, if you are wondering who that raving madman at the end is, well…’there can only be one!’
I did a small promotion tour in Germany and had a great time there with Gary Hughes, the singer of the popular British band Ten. We even did a very spontaneous acoustic live gig together and I really liked his voice. I will never forget he made the lyrics of a Thin Lizzy song up as he went along!
Now I never really liked the instrumental side of Beyond the Last Horizon on Actual Fantasy and always felt that the song needed a different, warmer approach. So now I recorded a more guitar-orientated new version with a real drummer (Stephen van Haestregt who also plays on the Ambeon album). And of course I immediately thought of Gary as the singer. I sent him a tape and got it back very quickly, only to find he did a great job! Only the guitar and synth solo remain from the old version, I re-recorded all the other instruments.
I browsed through all my old tapes to find some interesting recordings for this CD and I came across this 8 track 1994 home demo of ‘Charm of the Seer’ with drum computer. Ruud Houweling sang this song on the Final Experiment album. Maybe it’s not as good as Ruud’s version but I quite liked my own guide vocals on this demo
9. EYES OF TIME (Lucassen,Lucassen)
The song ‘Eyes of Time’ was a real problem song. I just couldn’t find the right singer for it. I tried out 6 different singers until I finally found the right one in Kingdom Come’s Lenny Wolf. However I also like the version of my former Vengeance band member Leon Goewie. I just felt that this version and mix was a bit too much over the top, being the second song on the Final Experiment album. This version was also featured on the rare ‘Sail away to Avalon’ single, but here it is now for everyone to hear.
10. NATURE’S DANCE (Lucassen,Lucassen)
This song was also featured on the ‘Sail Away to Avalon’ single. It’s an 8 track demo version of the acoustic ‘Nature’s Dance’ song. On the album version my voice was processed through the rotating (Leslie) speaker of a Hammond organ. In this version there are no effects on my voice.
11. AMBEON: COLD METAL (Lucassen/van der Veen)
I got an email from a guy who wrote me he recorded a 14 year old…er…young female singer called Astrid van der Veen, and someone suggested him to send an MP3 of some of her songs to me by email. Tears welled up in my eyes as I heard it, this was *exactly* the voice I was looking for! I could hardly believe such an amazing talent came from my own country Holland, so I called her up immediately. I sent her some Ayreon albums and she liked them, and also the idea of working with me on a new album.
As it happens I was just looking for a female singer for a project called Ambeon. I loaded some songs of all Ayreon albums into my new recording system. I’ve transformed them into new songs and added new sounds, instruments and vocals.
The name Ambeon is a combination of ‘ambient’ and ‘Ayreon’. I was planning to make this a soft atmospheric album but I just can’t seem to do it! So there will also be some big songs on the album. Don’t expect a happy commercial album youcan sing along with, it will be quite dark and mysterious, as you can hear on the preview track I’ve included here.