Track By Track : Leon Alvarado - Charging The Electric Dream

By John A. Wilcox

Ever since my early teens I've adored electronic music, Synergy (Larry Fast), Tangerine Dream and Kraftwerk being the prime examples. Leon Alvarado's Charging The Electric Dream is definitely in that same category. Pure synthesis. Beautifully done. Have a seat with your favorite androids as Alvarado takes us track by track...

Track 1: Alternate Frequencies
LA: The first song in the album was the catalyst for the whole project. The piece of music was developed while searching for sounds on a different project. I noticed that what I was working on was shaping up to have a bit of a Brian Eno sound to it. Instead of pursuing my original intent I decided to develop the work in progress into a whole piece by itself. Most of the music was created using an emulated ARP 2600 synthesizer which has a retro quality to it that I just love. It is a somber but yet uplifting piece and the one that got me thinking about making it part of a bigger project. I am thinking it was indeed a good idea to deviate what I was working on into this piece because perhaps without it, the whole idea for the album wouldn�t have happened which would have been a shame because the album seems to have been well received.

Track 2: Megapolis
LA: This songs beginnings were recorded over a decade ago. At the time I remember listening to a lot of Vangelis work, especially the soundtrack to the movie Blade Runner. In some way, this piece reflects the Vangelis influence. The piece itself was originally a fairly short piece but in 2022 I was able to find the stems and while re-mixing I decided to expand the music and bring to it a more refreshed sound. I had never released the song before as it really didn�t fit on any of the projects I was working on at the time. Many of the music on this album came from such �orphaned� pieces that I recorded throughout the years. Megapolis was one of the pieces that started in a certain way but got reworked into what ended up in the album.

Track 3: Space Glitter
LA: Another song that was also recorded a while back and one of the few older songs that I was able to have as a multi-track recording. I was working on a particular project at the time and came up with what was the basis for this piece. It didn�t fit with the other pieces for that particular project so I set it aside. It is quite an accessible piece of music that stands out in its own way. I still don�t remember where my mind was at when I originally worked on the piece. Usually there�s something lurking in the back of my head that produces the initial spark for whatever gets expressed but for this particular piece, I think I just went with the flow of my mood that particular day as I was creating it.

Track 4: Orion
LA: My first exposure to electronic music was the German band Tangerine Dreams. I always felt their music was more �cerebral� in a way. It was definitely different than your average. I also havd a great afinity for the music of Keith Emerson, Rick Wakeman and Tony Banks. I sort of grew up loving the synthesizer as a whole. What a revolutionary instrument it was with a sound as if it was the creation of aliens from outer space. As soon as I could get my hands on one I knew I was bound to create and record something. The first synthesizer I did play on was a Mini Moog. Just playing with it opened up this whole new way of looking at sound textures. Orion is pretty much an exercise in textural soundscapes. I love the blending of soft sounding pads and the more fast-attack sound of lead synths over it. I also like to play with the stereo spectrum in having certain sounds travel from right to left and vice-versa which can add another layer to the overall listening experience.

Track 5: The Rising Sun
LA: I had just returned from a week-long trip to Japan. I was amazed by that country, Tokyo looks and feels like those cities found in science-fiction movies. Osaka at night does the same. I recognized it from the movie Black Rain but it could as well be Blade Runner and would certainly feel the same. The trip definitely inspired me to create a unique piece of music that in my mind would encapsulate some of that ultra-urbanism that�s found in the large cities of Japan. A blend of old tradition and the new and more modern way to approach things. A truly cornucopia of contrast where one is cooler than the next. For this piece I used drum sounds that somewhat resemble Japanese Taiko drums as well as the use of flutes alongside some synthesizer textures to deliver something a bit more esoteric in nature. The casual listener may not be able to sense the connection but I personally feel that the piece does capture the feel and vibrancy of those wonderful Japanese cities.

Track 6: The Electric Dream
LA: The piece started as something different but the more I got into it, the more I felt it had a bit of a Tangerine Dream vibe. It had a working title for the longest of times but, at one point I decided to re-name it The Electric Dream because by that time I had a pretty good idea as to where I wanted to go in terms of the album's overall sound. The music reminds me of a chase scene in a sci-fi movie. The sampled �choir� voices added a little haunting touch to the piece which gave it a bit of mystery to the sound. The album itself has it name deriving from this piece. Charging The Electric Dream, the album�s title is for me a the vision behind a concept. It is about �re-charging� that internal dream that�s within each one of us. The overall sound of this album I feel is more uplifting than my average, at least conceptually. Most of the pieces in the album are like little adventures that let the listener�s imagination create their own vision and interpretation. Much like a piece of art on a canvas, I feel my music allows for the listener to have their interpretation of it.

Track 7: Outside The Dream
LA: Personally, this is my favorite piece of Charging The Electric Dream. It is the piece that closes the album because I wanted for it to end in a high-note. With this piece as a bookend, I feel the album�s flow is very strong. The piece goes through several motions, a somber beginning with a low-end synth and a pipe organ creating a haunting intro that melds into a pulsating modern vibe full of textures, whirling sounds and somewhat of an upbeat vibe to it. It is quite transformative. There is a second version of this song that serves as a soundtrack to an instrumental short that I did after the release of the album. The latter extends the song by another 4 minutes and introduces more instrumentation. You can visit my YouTube channel at: Leon Alvarado to see and hear the Outside The Dream video as well as The Electric Dream video. it gets a better idea of how the music can be matched to visuals.


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