Leon Alvarado — The Future Left Behind
(Melodic Revolution MRRCD 221, 2016, CD)
by Jon Davis, Published 2016-11-01
For listeners hungering for a keyboard-heavy concept album along the lines of Rick Wakeman’s early work (Journey to the Centre of the Earth or King Arthur) might find some sustenance in this release by Venezuela-born keyboardist Leon Alvarado. Eight instrumental tracks are separated by shorter tracks featuring narration presenting a scenario (not really a story) about a future Earth where pollution and over-population have left the planet nearly uninhabitable and mega-corporations have built colonies in orbit, on the moon, and on Mars, offering escape to those who can afford it, and leaving behind those who can’t. Alvarado handles a multitude of keyboards as well as sequencing, drums, and percussion; he is joined by Rick Wakeman himself on additional keyboards, the omnipresent Billy Sherwood on guitar, Johnny Bruhns (Sherwood’s bandmate in Circa) on one track, and narrator Steve Thamer. The music is pretty much what you’d expect — big, melodic, sometimes bombastic, and impeccably played. When compared with Wakeman’s Journey, the most obvious difference is the prevalence of digital keyboard sounds, with only occasional vintage tones. There are a few parts where it seems the intention is to present an orchestral sound, and they wisely choose not to go too far in this direction, as it is by far the weakest material on the album. Another difference is that (in spite of what the promotional blurbs say) there is no story here, just dry statements about the setting, informing us how many hours a day the colonists work and what kinds of furnishings they have in their lodgings. This might be interesting if we had a character to put in the setting, but as it is, you’ll want to skip all of the narration after the first time through. Of course, there are many prog fans who think that Journey to the Centre of the Earth represents some of the worst of progressive rock — obviously this album is not for you. But for listeners who are happy with recent incarnations of Yes, this should be a welcome addition to their collections.
Harold Budd RIP – Harold Budd, one of pre-eminent American composers of avant-garde and minimalism, has died of complications from the coronavirus. Budd came to prominence in the 70s, championed by Brian Eno on his Obscure Records label, with music that blended academic minimalism with electric jazz and electronic music. Much of Budd's best known work was done in collaboration with other artists, including Eno, Daniel Lanois, Robin Guthrie, Andy Partridge, John Foxx, Jah Wobble, and many others. » Read more
Audion Is Back in Business – Our esteemed colleague Alan Freeman has restarted Audion Magazine after a seven year hiatus. The new incarnation is available online on their Bandcamp site. Audion's history goes back to 1984, and included 58 issues up to 2013. Issue #59 is available now, and #60 is in the works. » Read more
Romantic Warriors IV – Krautrock (Part 2) Is in the Works – Zeitgeist Media, the people who have brought us the great series of documentary films chronicling the history of progressive rock, are working on the second installment of their examination of German music. Krautrock 2 will focus on artists from Münich such as Guru Guru, Amon Düül II, Xhol Caravan, Kraan, Witthüser & Westrupp, and Popol Vuh. » Read more
Simeon Coxe RIP – Simeon Coxe, best known for his experimental electronics in the band Silver Apples, has died at the age of 82. The band's 1968 debut album set the stage for both German electronic music and experimental punk music a decade later. Coxe died on September 8 from pulmonary fibrosis. » Read more