Melodic Revolution 2016
Beyond event horizon, American multi-instrumentalist casts a glance at dark ages of another era, with YES associates checking in.
There’s a curious contradiction at play in this album’s attempt to harmoniously harness the possibilities of what lies ahead for humanity – to many, an ultimate realization of progressive rock’s idiom – and Leon Alvarado’s exploitation of dystopian cliches with regards to specialist elite leaving Earth and mere mortals toiling on the planet. If his "Music From An Expanded Universe" hinted at wide vista, its full-length follow-up is contextually claustrophobic, and that’s whence the record’s tension comes, upped even more, rather than diluted, by narrative pieces interspersing musical performances. It’s the latter, though, that outline the untold story in a rather captivating way, as Leon doesn’t limit the scope of his space drama to art-rock boundaries.
Here’s why, heading for the hope of “The Star Seekers” where a shadowy chorale and organ evoke the mankind’s spiritual frontier, “Weightless” stitches baroque to barrelhouse piano as seamlessly easy as “The Ones Left Behind” throws funky groove onto the altar of decadence. On the way there, Alvarado can run through the variety of moods which include pastoral folk of “Launch Overture” whose serenity is spiked with a cosmic caress of Billy Sherwood’s slide guitars and shattered by the equally anxious Moog solos from Rick Wakeman, yet while “In Our Quiet Orbit” may be an allusion to a certain GENESIS classic, the track’s orchestral trajectory renders the original concept void for the listener to focus on the emotional texture of aural pictures. Not groundbreaking, but solid listening.