A Valid Path

Alan Parsons

Artemis Records, 2004


REVIEW BY: Jeff Clutterbuck


It's one thing to go buy an album that is popular. The singles are on the radio, there's a great deal of hype, and usually a lot of people can comment on the merits of said album. In the end, the choice can be pretty easy. However, it is an entirely different matter altogether to go out on a limb and acquire a CD that you've heard nothing about. There's a genuine "risk" involved. And being the poor college student that I am, there's nothing worse than shelling out 15 bucks for a CD that just isn't very good.

Luckily, this wasn't the case with A Valid Path.

I recalled vaguely that Duke had reviewed this album in August of last year, and I had purchased the single "More Lost Without You," but that's all I knew of this particular project by Alan Parsons (no pun intended). So in terms of expectations going in, there really weren't any, save that it would be an expertly produced work. That my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 A Valid Path most certainly is, as well as much more.

My friends are big techno/electronica fans, and to be honest I could not figure out why. To me, these styles of music were soulless, computer enhanced beats and rhythms, with no substance to them at all. However after giving A Valid Path a few listens, my eyes have been opened just a little bit. These songs do have some life to them, especially the instrumentals. The opener, "Return To Tunguska" varies things around, shifting from the eerie, Arabian-sounding opening segment to a pulsating, driving beat that climaxes with an appearance by guitarist David Gilmour of Pink Floyd.

After the first track, things just keep getting better and better. "More Lost Without You," was the single from the record, and is the most commercial song I have heard from Parsons. It is undeniably catchy, with a strong refrain and a few electronic flourishes. "Mammagamma04," apparently a remake of an earlier Parsons song, could have been taken straight out of a dance club. Other highlights include "We Play The Game," the second of the three vocal cuts on the album and Parsons' best performance of the album, and the powerful "Chomolungma," which mixes sounds such as Gregorian-style chanting, and a stirring orchestral and synth-driven ending featuring John Cleese and some Pet Sounds-esque barking.

How much one appreciates this work will depend solely on how much of this sound one can take. This album after a while does get repetitive, but Parsons manages to create enough good material that it is less noticeable. The only track that fails to take off is "Tijuaniac." I agree with the good Mr. Egbert, in that the atonal binges the song contains are quite simply annoying.

This was a "risky" buy, but as I said before, it turned out to be worth it. Parsons has reached out into a whole new branch of music, and applies his usual stellar production. The result is a unique listening experience that provides an opportunity for old Parsons fans to hear something new.

Rating: A-

User Rating: C+



© 2005 Jeff Clutterbuck 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.