A Valid Path

Alan Parsons

Artemis Records, 2004


REVIEW BY: Duke Egbert


There's a lot of pithy comparisons I could make about the new CD from Alan Parsons, A Valid Path. Comparisons to Yes' 90215 come to mind; both times an artist with a loyal, opinionated fanbase radically changed their sound, and I suspect much like Yes, Parsons is going to be raked over some metaphorical coals. This is not, in any way, shape, or form, the Alan Parsons Project. This is something else -- something that longtime fans will either find cool or execrable.

I'm not going to keep you in suspense any longer; I'm going to come down on the side of cool. Different, but very very cool.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

First change; this is not progressive rock. This is electronica; A Valid Path is mostly instrumentals, with only three vocal tracks. Second change: there are parts of this album that are downright danceable. Funky, even. If Vulture Culture is what Alan produced under pressure to be a chart-topping artist, A Valid Path is what Alan produced when he wanted to just go have some fun. And it works. I think it works really well.

The album's guest appearance list reads like a who's who of modern electronica. At various times, The Crystal Method, Shpongle, Nortec Collective, and many others make appearances. David Gilmour shows up on the opening track, "Return To Tunguska," to link back to the days when Parsons produced Pink Floyd. Parsons' son, Jeremy, helped write a track. John Cleese and Orson Welles even show up for a bit of vocal work. The production and engineering is without peer, as always.

The meat of the matter, though, are the songs. Out of nine tracks on the CD, I can without reservation recommend eight, and that's quite an average. "More Lost Without You" -- which I already know is a somewhat controversial track among Parsons cognoscenti -- is a straight-ahead pop song with an electronica sheen on it. Two tracks ("Mammagamma '04" and "A Recurring Dream Within A Dream") are retakes on Project classics, and they both work very very well. The drum groove and haunting vocals on "We Play The Game" are some of my favorite moments on the CD. My favorite, however, is the triumphant and tribal "Chomolungma," the CD's close, a powerful, percussion-laden work of art. Only "Tijuaniac" does very little for me, and that stems from a personal dislike of works that venture towards atonal or twelve-tone. (I do wonder if it will grow on me. It may.)

A Valid Path is, indeed, a different path for Parsons. But it's a path where his peers seem to respect him, he seems to be having fun, and he produces some intriguing, groovy work. More power to him; I hope there's more forthcoming.

Rating: A

User Rating: C+



© 2004 Duke Egbert and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Artemis Records, and is used for informational purposes only.