“Full of atmosphere and beautifully put together.” – Steve Hackett
Houston, TX – Much to the anticipation of prog fans worldwide, keyboardist/composer Leon Alvarado will be releasing his third album ‘2014, Music from an Expanded Universe’ on October 30, 2014, the first under the Melodic Revolution Records banner. For this mini-LP, Leon enlists the guitar skills of Trey Gunn (King Crimson), the masterful drumming of Jerry Marotta (better known for his work with Peter Gabriel, as well as Orleans and later Hall and Oates) and the ambient music duo better known as “Cyber Zen Sound Engine.”
Says Leon, “The whole idea of the CD started by the need to put out some new product in between full albums. It had been a long time since I had put out new music and I decided to make sure I released something in 2014. What drove me to take the path I took was my wanting to work with some of the King Crimson guys on new music. Once the project started to take shape I kicked around some ideas regarding the packaging visuals. I have always liked the out-of-this-world look of the artwork by the recently departed Swiss artist H.R. Giger and I thought something with that sort of flavor would give the thing an air of futuristic surrealism. I think in a strange sort of way it suits the music. The actual song titles got settled in at the end of the project with the exception of ‘Blood Like Red’ which is in a way an homage to King Crimson’s music. The way I pitched the music to Trey Gunn was by describing it as a sort of ‘Crimson-Light’ type of project. So, if there is a message in this thing it would be the fact that I am consciously trying to move forward with my music while expanding the catalog with something that is fresh with creative ideas and the creative input from some very talented and well-respected musicians.”
As with many musicians, The Beatles were Leon’s first musical influence. However, as a teenager he was introduced to progressive rock via Genesis…and he was hooked. Other music artists that attracted Leon were Yes, Pink Floyd, ELP, Jethro Tull, Camel, Gentle Giant, Premiata Forneria Marconi, Tangerine Dream, Brian Eno, Synergy (Larry Fast), Tomita and Vangelis. And of course, there were solid rock bands like Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple.
Leon’s recordings date back to the late 70’s, but it wasn’t until 2008 that he released his first album, ‘Plays Genesis and Other Original Stuff’. The record drew on his strongest musical influences, primarily, the many styles in Genesis’s lengthy career. By this time he had been living in the United States for some time as an award-winning designer creating, among other things, artwork for album covers and promotional posters for many of the bands and musicians he had been originally impacted by, such as Jethro Tull, Roger Waters, Phil Collins, King’s X, Yes, Genesis and Jeff Beck. Approaching the work as both soundscape and visual has given Leon unique insight into broadening the experience as a whole.
By the time ‘Strangers in Strange Places’ was released in 2010, Leon had refined his method and his vision, and it’s the audience who wins. ‘Strangers’ features Brand X’s John Goodsall on guitar and the legendary drummer Bill Bruford (Yes, King Crimson, Earthwork) and reveals an intertwining of progressive rock and ambient textural sound that then blossoms in his third release, ‘2014, Music from an Expanded Universe’.
Not one to sit idle, Leon already has his next project slated for release in 2015, an album of original music featuring ex-Yes men, Billy Sherwood and Rick Wakeman, as well as a solo project of previously unreleased pieces. These push further into the artist’s evolution as a first foray into cinematic instrumentals and classically inspired composition.
Leon explains, “The new CD is more or less another expansion of my musical reach. It’s very different from anything I put out before and yet, it still has some of the DNA found in my other pieces of work. The name ‘2014 Music From An Expanded Universe’ is indicative of my intentions. I wanted to release a CD in 2014 and I wanted to be different from my previous work and be fresh. The expanded universe in the title refers to my personal musical universe and how I as a musician, try to take the border of my envelope and push it a bit further. At the time I was also involved in working on two other projects. One of them has a couple of ex-Yes men in it and the other is a compilation of pieces from sessions I have done throughout the years but have never been released before. For ‘2014’ I wanted to work with some of the Crimson guys that I had met over at Dreamland Studios outside of Woodstock. Dreamland is a studio operated by Jerry Marotta, the brilliantly creative drummer better known in the prog circles for his work with Peter Gabriel. It was there where I met Tony Levin and Trey Gunn. These guys weren’t only some of the best at what they do but also some of my personal musical heroes. It took well more than a year before I contacted Trey to participate in the album. I asked him if he would be interested in taking on the bass parts as well as the guitar’s and he agreed which ended up working brilliantly. Trey is the consummate professional and I got to say that working with him was a great experience. On two tracks I have Jerry Marotta’s drumming on his Taos drums kit which is a set consisting of hand-made natural log drums built by a company of the same name in New Mexico. Jerry is an extremely talented musician who happens to be a natural for percussion. The album also includes the ambient music duo of Smith6079 and Gracenotex (better known as Cyber Zen Sound Engine).”
1. IRREVERENCE PART I
2. THE 2014 MICROCOSM
3. BLOOD LIKE RED
4. IRREVERENCE PART II
5. CINEMANIA “ALIVE”
In closing Leon has this to impart, “I try to create the type of music that I would like as a fan. I feel that there are many people out there that have a similar taste in music to mine. For those people, I would strongly encourage them to give it a listen because they may like what they hear. There are lots of influences in my music but my own pieces transmit their own original sound and vibe. I try to put my imprint on what I do, even when working on a cover song. I do music for music’s sake.”