Alucard dances through the decades and captures the imagination of days gone by on his new album, Star Rider.
Sometimes, it is the quiet ones, the ones who sit in the background and captivate with their artistry as it takes shape. One of the most unique and quiet talents in the world of trance is Alucard. His unique take on the genre focuses on something some claim the modern genre misses – mood and a quality to use melodies to “entrance” the mind’s eye.
Born in Canada as Peter McCowan, Alucard took his rightful spot in the trance world in the mid-2000s with releases on Solaris Recordings, Somatic Sense, and J00F Recordings. His impact resulted in some stunning pieces, not the least of which was his collaboration with Solarstone on “Late Summer Fields” off Solarstone’s 2008 album Rain Stars Eternal. As quickly as he rose into the consciousness of trance fans, he quietly disappeared from the world of electronic music in late 2011.
Enter the pandemic – Mr. Pure Trance, Solarstone resurrects the art-focused compilation series Electronic Architecture with a fourth release (read our review of it to see what we mean!). Long-time fans of trance legend found a surprise held within the compilation – two new Alucard productions! Colored surprised, fans were uncertain what would come next from the producer.
Well – we wait no longer as Alucard punches back in 2023 with perhaps the brightest star yet – his debut album Star Rider. Clocking in at ten tracks in total, the album presents a sonic tapestry woven with nostalgia and freshness. Everything falls into its space, while the atmosphere is intoxicating in the way only trance can be. If this is where the genre heads on the more experimental side, good things are coming!
If you fancy a deeper look, dive below. Otherwise, add a copy of Star Rider to your library today and stream the album on Spotify.
Stream Alucard – Star Rider on Spotify:
Sonic journeys tell a story.
The ten-track tapestry plays out in three major ways and we will briefly explore each below. To set the table though, there are three core pillars – nostalgic-inducing vibes, dancefloor-focused melodic rides, and atmospheric streams to take the listener from each segment to another. At 47 minutes, the album is not an all-day consuming affair, nothing wears out its welcome, and Alucard’s focus on what he weaves is apparent. If nothing else, the album feels both heartwarming and a joy for the journey ahead – a feat lost in the world of airplay singles.
The nostalgic formula comes into deeper play throughout. Certainly, the easy ones to point out are “1984,” which opens with just a touch of that TRON 1980s flair that permeates the retro-wave motifs, and “BMX Ride,” which combines some clearly filtered guitar riffs that sound just like the headphones children of the 1980s plugged into the cassette player. Beyond this though – the whole work just plays with simplicity and calmness. There’s no frantic, hectic energy to the work – it just plays into the moods gone by, the sunsets we watched as children, the skies turned into nights playing games with our closest friends.
“Nightmares” keeps the darker mood of the 1980s cinema alive and oozes the nostalgia tip as well – the bass stabs here combine with haunting upper pads amid swirling synth leads. Ghoulish fun! “Stand Together,” near the end of the album, somehow combines the beauty of the spontaneous fun of Disneyland’s old Main Street Electrical Parade spectacle with the plodding two-step beats of 1980s dance floors. It sounds both contemporary, older, and familiar all in one package without feeling silly.
The dance floor melodies, on the other hand, come from both familiar and new territory.
“Elementary” cascades the ears with arpeggios thanks to the choice made of the lead synthesizer. Dazzling the ears, the melody bounces and frolics over the deep bass and soft percussion. This is not a peak-hour tune, but one that gives those on the dance floor something to enjoy while others may need a breather and just want a hand up in the air. “Midway” definitely strikes the familiar ground, as it was included in the aforementioned Electronic Architecture 4 – which still plays with breakbeats and trance in the most beautiful of ways.
“Star Rider” – both the title track and swan song of the album – brings all the elements to the fold. A lead synthesizer plays with the nostalgic sound of old arcade video games of the 1980s but keeps the energy pumping with an energetic bass line that bounces to and fro. Again, this is not a club banger, but something to get you onto the road and bopping that head as you travel to the next horizon.
The atmosphere exudes from a few moments in particular. The opening filtered sweeps, hypnotic notes that echo in the ears, and the strong note plucks in the low end of the opener, “Face In The Fire,” touches expertly on the environment. The track plays in that space of downtempo breaks and chill-out without ever feeling like it is either of those – it just hypnotizes the ears.
Likewise, the midway point’s “Dead Space” plays with empty sonic space as well. Here, Alucard touches on white noise pads to fill the space where deep bass stabs drive the listener onward toward another engrossing half-tempo melody. “Beautiful Silence” glides in this space too, though more dance floor-focused. Long introductions and breaks play with the mind’s ears; warmth breathes into the space while rolling almost bell-like elements lull a false sense of sleep into the listener. The mid-line sparkles with a big lead, but the slow step-by-step beat and bassline never waver.
Enforcing tradition in trance by breaking the rules.
Alucard’s effort to create a sonic tapestry here is wondrous. It hypnotizes as a trance album should, but it also breaks the formula by playing with both the nostalgia of the 1980s and with the method of delivery. This album is not a standard trance, progressive house, or “melodic” affair. It is a piece of art, woven by passion, with a touch of old and new. It is the combination of both that oozes something more. It is the synthesis of what’s shaped the artist and shows us each a doorway to something more. Star Rider is an ode to the beauty of music made for listening, not for fame or airplay, not for anything less than blissful joy. Dig in and you won’t be disappointed.
Alucard – Star Rider – Tracklist:
- Face In The Fire
- BMX Ride
- Dead Space
- Beautiful Silence
- Stand Together
- Star Rider