01011001 is the seventh studio album by Arjen Anthony Lucassen's long-running Ayreon project. "01011001" is the binary representation of the letter Y. 01011001's plot is tied to the Planet Y and Forever of the Stars storyline developed in the albums Into the Electric Castle, Universal Migrator and The Human Equation. 17 singers in total (including Arjen himself) contributed to the album. Of these, only Anneke van Giersbergen, Floor Jansen, and Arjen himself have sung on previous Ayreon albums: Anneke on Into the Electric Castle, Floor singing backing vocals on The Dream Sequencer, and Arjen on every Ayreon album, except Flight of the Migrator.
With Ayreon, Dutch multi-instrumentalist Arjen Anthony Lucassen has built a career around massive prog metal opuses with hordes of guest vocalists. Basically, anybody in metal who can hold a tune has sung for Ayreon at some point. 01011001 features Anneke Van Giersbergen (ex-The Gathering), Jonas Renkse (Katatonia), Floor Jansen (After Forever), Tom Englund (Evergrey), Hansi Kürsch (Blind Guardian), Simone Simons (Epica), Ty Tabor (King's X), and Daniel Gildenlow (Pain of Salvation), among many others. These singers are the focal points of their bands, but in Ayreon, they're merely characters in Lucassen's rock operas. 01011001 is a sprawling two-disc set that one critic called "the longest CD ever made." Indeed, the album spans 100 minutes, and feels like 100 years. It's a perfect fit for the Inside/Out label — pristine production, byzantine songs that feel like full albums, hi-tech synths that wish they were guitars. Lucassen really, really likes his synths; in Waking Dreams, he entirely forgoes bass in favor of a percolating ostinato that suggests a beefier Kraftwerk. (German band) Electronics also pervade the percussion; Beneath the Waves is as if The Alan Parsons Project covered the Beastie Boys' So What'cha Want. Ray gun synths, operatic vocals, fake and real strings, and even Celtic melodies adorn this sonic mansion. Its ambition would be laughable if the record didn't actually fulfill it often. Admittedly, such fulfillment was purchased at Guitar Center (or its Dutch equivalent); the record is most touching when it strips down to acoustic guitar on the gorgeously compact Web of Lies. These two discs, subtitled Planet Y and Earth, are about humanity's disconnect with itself and destruction of the planet. But that's really not important. Music this over the top almost defies criticism. Reviewing it is like reviewing the world's tallest building. It doesn't care; it just goes on and on
01) age of shadows
03) liquid eternity
04) connect the dots
05) beneath the waves (with subtitles)
06) newborn race (with subtitles)
07) ride the comet
08) web of lies
09) the fifth extinction (with subtitles)
10) waking dreams
11) the truth is in here
12) unnatural selection
13) river of time
15) The sixth extinction
In the booklet, each of these vocalists is represented by a symbol.
* Hansi Kürsch (Blind Guardian, Demons & Wizards) (Celtic cross)
* Daniel Gildenlöw (Pain of Salvation, ex-The Flower Kings) (®)
* Tom S. Englund (Evergrey) (Lightning bolt)
* Jonas Renkse (Katatonia) (Inverted Pentagram)
* Jørn Lande (Masterplan, ex-ARK, ex-Beyond Twilight) (Crow)
* Anneke van Giersbergen (Agua de Annique, ex-The Gathering) (♥)
* Steve Lee (Gotthard) (☯)
* Bob Catley (Magnum) (Pinwheel)
* Floor Jansen (After Forever, Star One) (Ω)
* Magali Luyten (Beautiful Sin, Virus IV) (Crescent)
* Simone Simons (Epica) as Simone, an internet-dating service user.
* Phideaux Xavier as PX, an internet-dating service user.
* Wudstik as a 21st century scientist, preparing The Final Experiment.
* Marjan Welman (Elister & Autumn) as a 21st century scientist, preparing The Final Experiment.
* Arjen Anthony Lucassen as Mr. L, a mentally ill man in an asylum.
* Liselotte Hegt (Dial) as the mentally ill man's nurse in the asylum.
* Ty Tabor (King's X, Platypus) as an average middle-class worker, with an average family.
* Arjen Anthony Lucassen - Guitar, keyboards, synths, bass guitar, programming
* Ed Warby (Gorefest) - Drums and percussion
* Lori Linstruth (ex-Stream of Passion) - Guitar solo on "Newborn Race"
* Michael Romeo (Symphony X) - Guitar solo on "E=MC2"
* Derek Sherinian (Planet X, Billy Idol, Yngwie Malmsteen, ex-Dream Theater) - Keyboard solo on "The Fifth Extinction"
* Tomas Bodin (The Flower Kings) - Keyboard solo on "Waking Dreams"
* Joost van den Broek (After Forever) - Piano and Keyboard solo on "The Sixth Extinction"
* Jeroen Goossens (Flairck) - Flutes
* Ben Mathot (Dis) - Violins
* David Faber - Cellos
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