Ambeon – Fate of a Dreamer - 5/5
So, I must apologise if at any point I sound like a fanboy with this one, but when confronted by something as spectacular as this, its hard not to. In the space of two days it’s probably been played a dozen times, and has yet to get repetitive at any point. Regulars of the blog will note just how infrequently I give something a 5, and usually I twitch wondering whether it really is ‘perfect’ as the mark requires. This there was no question, from beginning to end, it is a work of absolute genius, a masterpiece so poorly known its criminal (though the cd has been out of print for a number of years now, and can happily fetch £100, making this less surprising than usual, but nonetheless tragic).
The first thing you should notice is the name of the band, Ambeon literally is a combination of ‘Ambient’ and ‘Ayreon.’ Yes, this is a side project of the artist responsible for the likes of ‘Human Equation’ and ‘Into the Electric Castle’ but this surpasses them both. Beautiful in its simplicity, yet at no point does it feel too barren, utilising acoustic guitars, electric guitars, drums, violins, keyboards, flutes and synth effects. All of these are done sparsely throughout the album so as to not overload the listen, the intention being to create an atmosphere rather than a complex intricate composition to draw focus from the vocals.
And the vocals, they are impeccable. The vocalist was 14 at the time this was recorded (the little girl on the front cover? Thats who you're listening to), but without doing the research there would have been no chance of me guessing that. In fact, I decided to double check and triple check my sources, matching the release date to her birth date as I couldn’t see how it was possible. Easily the match for Sharon den Adel of ‘Within Temptation’ fame, often singing in a similar manner as her earlier works, not overly operatic but gentle and delicate, and in our case retaining a sense of innocence rarely found in the best of vocalists. She also succeeds here in retaining a strong sense of emotion, from the almost cynical, to the sorrowful, the meaningful, and even a weird sort of aggressive tone in “Cold Metal,” she truly is a prodigy and goes a long way in making the album just as superb as it is.
But then the rest of the instruments too are vital in the end sound created, from the melodic and psychedelic dream-like guitar solo’s in “Surreal,” (Both electric and acoustic) to the soft groove in “Sweet Little Brother,” the flutes in “High,” I could go on spouting songs, but not only do they succeed in achieving a beautiful emotion-laden track every time, but each one sounds distinct from the last whilst retaining the core sound that identifies them.
I wouldn’t just recommend this album to fans of ambient music, or symphonic fans, this is one I can’t really fathom someone not liking. And for those who only read the first and last paragraphs, I can’t put it any simpler than ‘Everyone needs this in their collection.’
Highlights: High, Surreal, Sweet Little Brother
By T. Bawden