New Rochelle Resident Leon Dewan, Inventor of Electronic Instrument The Swarmatron, Shares His Five Favorite Music Albums

Top albums from the inventor/maker of the Swarmatron.



 

Perhaps you can recall the Academy Award-winning score for The Social Network, featuring unsettling melodies by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. It wouldn’t have been possible without New Rochelle resident Leon Dewan and his first-cousin-once-removed Brian, inventors of an eight-tone electronic instrument they’ve christened The Swarmatron. Here, Dewan names his top five albums.

 

1) The Piper at the Gates of Dawn by Pink Floyd
“Syd Barrett’s sadly brief but exceedingly brilliant arc of a songwriting career has this hallucinatory masterpiece to show for its peak,” Dewan says. “It’s one of the most original and inspired collections of songs ever recorded, with the Pink Floyd of 1967 creating bizarre, wonderful sounds and arrangements that went far beyond the genre of psychedelia they trailblazed.”

2) Patience Has Limits by Umm Kulthum
“This mystery thrift-shop vinyl purchase became one of my biggest single influences, despite the fact that I don’t understand a single word of it, having never learned Arabic,” he says. “A cascade of otherworldly melodies and arrangements weave themselves throughout the tapestry of Umm Kulthum’s superb, powerfully emotional singing, in what ends up being one long and mesmerizing epic song.” 

3) Silver Apples by Silver Apples

This album features instrumentation Dewan can relate to. “In the mid-sixties, Simeon Coxe assembled a huge electronic music machine that became known as ‘The Simeon’ from WWII surplus oscillators he found on Canal Street in New York City. He invented his own color-based musical notation for playing it, and, accompanied by the superb drummer Danny Taylor, recorded a highly imaginative, poetic, and unique album that ventures far off the beaten path of its time—or any other, for that matter.”


4) Abbey Road by The Beatles
“It’s difficult to sing the praises of The Beatles without sounding profoundly redundant at this point,” he says. “Hearing their use of the Moog synthesizer throughout this album when I was a teenager made me want to build my own synthesizer.”


5) Doolittle by Pixies
“The individual pieces of this album add up to a whole that is much greater than the sum of its parts—the authoritative, screamy, preacherly vocal delivery; the way the melodies and chord progressions slide past each other in unexpected ways; the extremely inventive song structures and dynamics. There is something perfect about it, and, to my ears, it remains as fresh as the first time I heard it in the early-’90s.”