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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Leon Alvarado

The Future Left Behind

Review by Gary Hill

This newest set from Leon Alvarado is quite a tasty one. It has a number of nearly vocal only spoken bits that tell the story of the album. The musical pieces are strictly instrumental. This is progressive rock with a definite space rock element at play. Billy Sherwood provides nearly all the guitars on the album. Rick Wakeman guests on one song. Johnny Bruhns plays acoustic guitar on one tune. The narration is handled by Steve Thamer. Alvarado himself does keyboards, drums and more. This is a science fiction tales set as music and it’s dramatic.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2016  Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Preface

Atmospheric textures serve as the backdrop for a narration setting up the story.

Launch Overture
A mellow guitar motif with all kinds of keyboards in the mix serves for the backdrop for some bits of science fiction world in terms of sound effects. The cut builds from there into a great spacey sort of arrangement. Rick Wakeman provides some great Moog soloing later as this number works out to an intense, fast paced prog jam. The whole tune just works so well. It’s a smoking hot instrumental with a real classic sound.
A Voyage
Here we get another narration continuing the story. The backdrop is even more stripped back on this one than it was on the opening. In fact, this is delivered almost without any backing.
Journey Into Space
Starting with a real mellow space styled arrangement, this powers out into some killer fast paced jamming. I love how it shifts this way and that as it makes its way forward. There is definitely a Yes-like element at play here. Later it drops to a psychedelic space journey.
Weightless
The piano on this really kind of steals the show at times on this early. It has a real jazz-like element over a mellower prog backdrop. As guitar becomes more of a prominent element at the piano drops away, it starts to call to mind Yes again. There are almost Peter Banks like things in play at times. There is definitely a space music element dominating the piece, though.
Hard Choices
Here  we get another spoken section with just some space sound effects behind it.
The Ones Left Behind
As this rises up there is an almost classical music element to it. They quickly shift out to a prog jam that in some ways makes me think of Hawkwind just a bit. That sound continues to evolve as the piece drives forward. This is cool stuff for sure. It has some great changes and includes some intriguing instrumental passages. There is really kind of a groove to it. Around the two minute mark it drops to a mellow section of just keyboards. Percussion heralds the power-up, and we’re taken into something closer to Yes music. Another journey into mellower, spacey music comes further down the road.
Life in the Outside
Here is another spoken narration section with bare backdrop.
Among the Stars
This is very much like space rock in that nothing really changes quickly. It’s mid-tempo number with a great evolving kind of groove to it. It just flows really well.
Much Ado About
This is the next spoken part.
In Our Quiet Orbit
There is both a classical music element and something that feels mildly Asian about some of this. There is an extremely mellow bit past the one minute mark that gives way to a decidedly classical music based portion. Even as the track evolves, it still remains more classical than anything else. Sure, it’s electronic, but the mellower motifs could pass for classical music, and when it gets bombastic that comparison still works to a large degree. By around the four minute mark it shifts toward more of an electronic rock thing, but there is still a classical element at play. There is also a bit of a jazz vibe, too.
To Be Loved
Intricate acoustic guitar begins this. As it continues keyboards provide some textures over the top. Overall, this is really an acoustic guitar solo with some keyboard accompaniment. It’s gentle and quite pretty.
A Silver Lining
Here we get the final spoken segment.
The Star Seekers
The opening movement of this is very much a space rock kind of thing with a lot of science fiction element in the mix. It powers out eventually into a soaring, hard edged, driving prog jam. This is one of the best pieces here. That makes it a great choice for album closer, really.
 
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