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Alan Parsons Band - A Valid Path CD (album) cover

A VALID PATH

Alan Parsons Band

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4 stars Prog-Rock grows up and joins the modern world. In his first album since splitting with the by-now regular line up of the Alan Parsons band, A Valid Path shows that whilst his old pal Eric Woolfson (Poe) and old line-up have failed to learn any new tricks to keep themselves contemporary, the same could not be said of Mr Parsons. A genuinely eye-opening experience, the album begins with the epic 9-minute Return To Tunguska, which puts this listener very much in mind of I Robot's opening sequence, wherein the musical form arises out of a swirling collage of sounds that nag on the edge of coherence before delivering up a sublime main theme, enhanced in this case and pulsing with added drama thanks to Dave Gilmour's guitar work. Book-ending the album as a whole is the equally hefty Chomolungma, clocking in at 7-minutes plus, which alternately intrigues and amuses in equal measure. For some reason I saw in my mind's eye the Easter Island statues singing along on this one.......................!!! Between these two tracks on this 50 minute album are three vocal-led performances More Lost Without You, We Play The Game and You Can Run, with Alan taking lead vocals on We Play The Game to surprisingly good effect, and with a tone on this track reminiscent of Eye In The Sky. More Lost Without You has a slower tempo than I personally like with Alan Parsons' music, but is still listenable, whilst You Can Run has a similar high-paranoia feel to be found on such tracks as Somebody Out There from Vulture Culture. The other four tracks on this album are all instrumentals, though the human voice features as an instrument. They include two re-workings of old Project classics: Mammagamma 04 and A Recurring Dream Within A Dream, both of which have sufficient new ideas to afford gainful insight into Alan's current musical thinking, as well as providing a link to the past for those Project fans who find the new album a bit of a shock. The other two tracks Tijuaniac and L'Arc En Ciel offer a dreamy, laid back sound reminiscent of Rick Wright's musical thinking, with some slight jazz elements incorporated into the mix. For this reviewer, who always preferred the instrumentals and production work, plus the keyboard ideas of the Alan Parsons Project, this album is simply great, and though it's early days yet, may well become my favourite of his - a notable acheivment since I own all the Project and Woolfson-less albums. However, if your favourite albums are Stereotomy, Gaudi, Try Anything Once Time Machine or the ballady stuff, then look out- you might not like this one. But for me? Absolutely great.
Report this review (#32077)
Posted Tuesday, August 17, 2004 | Review Permalink
2 stars As a long time collector and fan of The Alan Parsons Project i also found this album by far the weakest.On the previous albums although sound scapes and studio effects are well used, there has always been great melodies and strong musicianship in evidence.But here he seems to have run out of ideas and has resorted to re-hashing inferior versions of past glories.The sound scape tracks are all very similar in structure and overused.To be quite honest the whole thing is a bit of a bore.The album does have a very modern sound to it in so far as the sounds drone on and on and mabe to the generation that seems to thrive on such dross then there could well be a place for it.
Report this review (#32079)
Posted Tuesday, August 31, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars I can smell the same spice i did in all parsons albums so far but i hate to say that this self- repetition is getting the canon off of its deserved place. Alan knows he has to catch up with the trendy musical tricks, but personally i prefer his own old sounds. There is a solid number of Parsons out there, and the youth is very less likely to add to it as they are consuming so fast. It needs time to stir into Alan's music, and Alan, if you're reading this, let it stay that way.

lazarus

Report this review (#32080)
Posted Tuesday, August 31, 2004 | Review Permalink
acrylic8_2000
4 stars 1.Return to Trunguska. Can't get enough of this dark, smoldering instrumental! With this piece Parsons reaffirmed the loyalty of his existing fans and probably gained a few new ones. Innovating, through and through. The rhythm is complex and subtle. There's a little bit of euro/techno - just enough to have a reference point: the concept itself is groundbreaking. Parsons extends euro/techno naturally, possibly setting a new tone in this musical domain. Interestingly, the piece hints at aliens. I kept having this persistent vision of an alien ship coming to dock after a long, tiring voyage! The voice distortions are used sparingly and with taste, enhancing the mystique (instead of destroying it). I rarely throw so much praise around, but RTT deserves it! Oh yes, there's David Gilmour doing his thing on the guitar. His patented Pink Floyd motifs are pretty good. However, the impact of the screaming guitar solo is questionable, at best. Well, depending on what frame of mind you're in while listening to RTT. To me, it sounded too rock-and-roll compared to RTT's otherworldly outlook. 2.More lost without you. A catchy song. I wouldn't be surprised to hear it on the radio some day. 3.Mannagamma. Alan Parsons decided to let his son tinker with synths. The result was a remake of the original and a startling lack of imaginativeness and musicianship. It neither offers anything new nor does justice to the original. Instead, it consists of some silly sound effects layered over the familiar main theme, all of which can be done by pressing a few buttons on a decent synthesizer. Why did they bother? 4.We play the game. I liked this song for its originality and for Parsons' singing. 5.Tijuaniac. Mexican musical elements, Stereotomy's Urbania and Dark Side of the Moon all find their way into this one. I am pretty sure Parsons took a trip to Tijuana after his move to California. Who could've imagined Mexican trumpets in an Alan Parsons album?! Although Parsons music has struck me with its originality so many times before, in my twisted brain "original folk music" is an oxymoron and, IHO, Parsons shouldn't go that way. 6.L'arc en Ciel. Like RTT, this is another instrumental hit! The rainy, soothing introduction is deceiving, for it rapidly morphs into a high-energy, contagious theme. Original. 7.A recurring dream within a dream. See Mannagamma. 8.You can run. What's going on in here? 9.Chamalungma. John Cleese makes funny noises, the coyotes are howling, but WHY? I was under the impression that Parsons was in hurry to finish the album at this point.

Overall, a few pieces were excellent, but some were not good. Regardless, I'd like to think of "A Valid Path" as a sort of transition. Alan Parsons may yet come up with a few groundbreaking albums. He should find Santa Barbara an inspiring place to make new music. Best wishes to him and his family!

Report this review (#32081)
Posted Saturday, September 4, 2004 | Review Permalink
1 stars I have been a fan of Alan Parson since day one. I have every album and have never been dissapointed with any of them. I have always thought that you could buy a Parson's CD site unseen and enjoy it. Until now I was right.... this CD offers no Parson fan anything to sink their teeth into. Add to that a couple of retreads and you have a poor excuse for a Parson album. Best try before you but this CD. Someone said if you like Stereotomy, Gaudi, Try Anything Once Time Machine then you might not like this. I add if you liked anything since I Robot you might not like this. Sorry Alan...you missed the target....
Report this review (#32083)
Posted Monday, September 13, 2004 | Review Permalink
1 stars Ugh....what happened? This ain't the Alan Parsons I remember. Reminds me of the bad techo-pop cover tunes I used to hear blasting out at Siam Square in Bangkok. Right up there with Abba Teens. David Gilmour's wonderful guitar could have been put to better use elsewhere. Come on Alan, you can do better than this...much better! I've been a huge Parsons fan since day one and have resisted the urge to try and like this simply because it is an Alan Parsons project (pun intended). If I had never heard of Alan Parsons before and heard this as his first effort, I'd have put it back on the shelf. I hate to say it but we're (the 1970's fans) all getting old and some of our heroes tunes are becoming pathetic. If you've heard the two awful new songs by Roger Waters, you'll know what I mean.
Report this review (#32085)
Posted Friday, September 17, 2004 | Review Permalink
3 stars I'd rate this a 4 overall but only a 3 because it's not a prog album. Anyone who dislikes it based solely on the fact it's not prog is missing the point. It's supposed to be something different....and it is. It's a good overview of different electronica styles so is a really good introduction to that genre.
Report this review (#32086)
Posted Friday, October 29, 2004 | Review Permalink
Muzikman
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars "Time Machine" (1999) was the last Alan PARSONS album recorded before "A Valid Path" came out this year. You can count me amongst the group of folks that looks forward to this man's music. I have always loved his work. Before launching his own projects, he was well known for his engineering work on the classic albums "Dark Side Of The Moon", "Let It Be" and "Abbey Road". Not a bad resume before kicking off a recording career.

PARSONS has talent such as David GILMOUR, The Cyrstal Method and the Nortec Collective help him on this crisp and polished production. I listened to this album repeatedly. I can say with respect to his legacy that this collection of songs is as good as any I have heard. He has managed to take a bit if the past and today's modern studio techniques to forge a fresh blend of rock, techno and progressive-rock. Probably the best example of that would be "A Recurring Dream Within a Dream" which samples from the classic track "Raven" ("Tales Of Mystery And Imagination" 1975). As usual, PARSONS is positively brilliant melding the classic tune into his new track. A track that stands by itself, miles away from the style and approach of the album in the sum of its parts is "More Lost Without You." It is a sure bet for a hit single.

Those unexposed to the PARSONS cache of recordings will most certainly find this to be a revelatory listening experience and the old guard diehards (like me) will find sheer delight time after time hearing the pulsating rhythms and compelling mixes of each track on this CD. I am one that is always saluting those that can rely on basic tools of the trade to create a great album. I need to rethink my stand on the use of technology, sampling, and voice processing because of what I heard on this CD. Another masterpiece is awaiting your hungry ears now.

Report this review (#32087)
Posted Saturday, January 29, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars As a long time Parson's fan (dating back to the late 70's), I have to say I liked Valid Path, but then I've always been partial to his instrumentals, which this disk mostly seems to consist of. When I first heard it, the presumably "prog" elements (I'm not exactly sure what "prog" means) struck me as a mix between the Project and Enigma. While he has played with sound effects and distortion in the past, this disk prominently features them, and perhaps that's what all the "prog" fuss is about? I'm not going to break VP down as others have done, although I agree with the characterization of the retreads - I'd have prefered something new in their place. But overall, I'm pleased to add this disk to my collection and expect to be playing it as much as any of his others.

I would also agree that those who prefer his old stuff will probably miss Woolfson & Co. To them I recommend FREUDIANA, Woolfson's solo project. While sounding a bit like a musical soundtrack, it's well worth hearing.

Report this review (#32091)
Posted Friday, April 8, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars it is a fair record, some new sounds, some old things... etc. I'm not a Parsons fan, and this record was a gift, however i'm pleased, because i'm hearing quaity music with good performances. I know that so many fans may argue the direction he's taking, but we must understand that ALAN PARSONS is a producer and later a musician, and he is going with the flow (we like it or not). So, relax and be aware that first: is a very eclectic and electronic album, second: is a very well crafted record, third: we are moving forward into the new sounds and expressions, just let it go.
Report this review (#32092)
Posted Monday, May 30, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars After "Time Machine" Alan Parsons Band definetely change forever, this album is a good record of Electronic-Art-Rock music but a weak Alan Parsons album. The remix of "Raven" is bad located on this record and lyrics seems to be vanishing. Lot of instrumental songs with a less guitar-bass-drums composition. I like it because I am a fan of Parsons and I will accept everything he will do
Report this review (#44124)
Posted Wednesday, August 24, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars Surely not an easy album at all.In my opinion It could be good news if this album remained a sort of experimentation by Alan dealing with odiern PC possibilities in a musical context; a way of discovering the relationships between machines and music.

It's understood that this album is an unique case in all Parsons' discography, and if you're new to his works this is absolutely NOT the first album you should get: so I agree with the 3 stars definition : a good, but not essentially choice because I think that there are some good ideas on this one: "Return To Tunguska" the best album track by far is a very disquieting instrumental piece which features Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour; Computer - filtered vocals announce "More Lost Without You" the only song on the album which could have a been a succesful single; Interesting Latin influences appearing on track number 5: "Tijuaniac", an interesting song... this for the good parts ; ABSOLUTE RUBBISH instead a new version of Parsons' classic track "Mammagamma", called "Mammagamma 04" ; I found also very awful the remix of "A Dream Within A Dream / The Raven" , two great tracks which originally appeared on the Alan Parsons Project first album "Tales Of Mistery And Imagination" released in 1976, These disappointing "remix" ideas was brought in by Jeremy Parsons, Alan's son. The other tracks left me a bit cold, I mean : "We Play The Game", "You Can Run" and "Chomolungma".

Progressive Music first of all is also experimentation, and so I do not condemn "A Valid Path" , but here lies an objectivity matter, and so objectively talking as I said before this album isn't Parsons' easiest one, and surely not his best release...anyway being a very great Parsons' fan I liked it.

I really hope that Parsons will come back as soon as possible to release albums like "Try Anything Once" and "The Time Machine", the REAL, GREAT, IMMORTAL, Alan Parsons' sound!

It deserves 3 Stars.

Report this review (#69469)
Posted Wednesday, February 15, 2006 | Review Permalink
Joolz
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Digital sampling, sequencing, fancy computer trickery and David Gilmour's trademark guitar merge on Return To Tanguska, the first track on A Valid Path which sets the scene for this solo album from Alan Parsons. Its basis is in techno, a synthetic form of music awash with sterile beats and clever sounds all achieved through mastery of software rather than traditional instruments. Other than vocals on several tracks, guitars are just about the only 'analogue' sound to be heard and even some of the 'vocals' are played as samples. On the plus side Parsons and his assorted partners have created a fairly organic sound on tracks which could have turned into industrial hell, like L'Arc En Ciel with its nice fat bassline.

Sadly, this treatment masks the fact there are actually a couple of decent songs here: More Lost Without You is a good song with a nice melody while Parsons plays guitar and sings to good effect on We Play The Game. Other than that, the album is littered with good ideas somewhat ruined by the techno production, like the final track Chomolungma which has a hypnotic rhythm and deep chanting voices. This was not at all what I expected from Parsons. He has always made use of these techniques as part of a wider sound palette but it will take a broadminded view to find any Progressive Rock lurking in these nine tracks, let alone consider it to be a Prog masterpiece.

Report this review (#83358)
Posted Monday, July 10, 2006 | Review Permalink
1 stars The most appropriate word needed to describe my feeling after listening to this album is "disappointment". The only dilemma is whether give it one or two stars. Why? Well, from the very start of it, to the very end, I was asking myself is it really an Alan Parsons album or some DJ dance tribute record. I understand that artist has all freedom to make record as he wish, and that my part in it is to like it or not (equal to buy it or not). And I absolutely don't like it. But artists must be aware that armies of fans and followers that support them deserve at least an information is some record made up to standards of that artist or not. Does it look like previous records or not. Maybe "A valid Path" should be "A wrong Path" or "A suspicious Path". Or "A dead end Path". Just to make them think of buying it or not. On record with vulgar or offensive parts, a sticky label PG or something similar is on it. It would be fair play to stick a label on this record that says "music not similar to artist's previous issues".

What? The music review? OK, just a few words more. First of all, I can't use word music to express sound present on this record. Why? Well, music is something made by humans. And it sure isn't music when someone push a button that start creating some sound and after several minutes push it again to stop it. On this one, someone was pushing a lot of buttons, or was clicking a lot with a mouse. The instrument "programming" stands beside four "musicians". Some 30 years ago same artist made fine record titled "I Robot", inspired by Isaac Asimov's SF novels, and now it seems that time has come when someone wants to make a robots of us. But oh no, not of me. I want to use brain, as part of my personality, even when listening to the music, and that is the organ not necessary needed for records like this. Maybe one day when someone puts a chip in my head, sensitive to audio stimulants similar to these, and press the "enjoy" button, that will make me feel happy, maybe that day. But no, that'll be the day! "Progressive music" earned its name exactly because it incorporate intellectual effort to create it, adopt it and understand it. That is the point. And I don't want it to be taken from me.

What? The music review? There is not much that could be said. For someone a simple contemporary dance clubbing electronic experience, for me the HULK (Horrible UnListenable Kaos). Even "covers" and "reworks" of old songs made them annihilated. Only moments I liked that sounded decent are tracks 5 and 6, with interesting water drops sound effects used as a rhythm. Unfortunately, that's all. If it was artist's intention to show us where music is going, and to raise fist and yell against it, OK, I would understand. But I think that wasn't the case. One star. One lonely star.

Report this review (#84415)
Posted Friday, July 21, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars To be sure there is some good music here, but I can relate to the comments about not wanting to feel like a robot. Something about listening only to techno or instrumentals that make me feel something is missing (especially the last track). I know that Alan Parson's has a lot of great instrumental music, but personally I'm glad I can burn my on CD's and leave off some of the instrumentals (guess I really need the vocals to feel human). It would be a nice "experiment" if Alan Parson could get more into adding vocals to all his music, especially if he's going to delete real instruments. Bet the response would be great.

I still give his work three stars, and hope that he won't give up.

Report this review (#125120)
Posted Friday, June 8, 2007 | Review Permalink
ClemofNazareth
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Folk Researcher
1 stars I’m not even sure exactly why I bought this album. As a completer piece more than anything I suppose. In reality Alan Parsons ceased to be anything resembling even a pseudo-prog artist after ‘I Robot’ (if not before), and really quit putting out even decent pop music by 1982. The whole Alan Parsons ‘Band’ thing sans Eric Woolfson isn’t even a half-hearted attempt at anything artistic; those albums generally fall into either a nostalgia bucket, or are blatant club-mix affairs. This one falls into the latter category despite a couple attempts to play the nostalgia card with “Mammagamma ‘04” and “A Recurring Dream within A Dream”, the latter being a dance-mix version of the original “The Raven” off the Project’s “Tales of Mystery & Imagination” debut some thirty years ago.

This thing is just embarrassing. If Parsons isn’t ashamed for himself, then I will be that for him. I didn’t think this guy would ever bother to put anything out again after the painful-to-stomach ‘Gaudi’, but of course he was far from done and managed to even attach his name to ‘Freudiana’ before alienating Woolfson and wandering off to schlep more albums under this ‘Band’ moniker.

The whole album is all techno-electronica tripe with endless programmed digital sequences, sequenced drum machines, and other computer wizardry. Sure, Parsons has always been known for mixing digimusic with the real thing, but the totality of the immersion in artificial sounds on this album is shocking to old fans (or to me at least).

Beyond the two blasphemies of early Project classics are several other tracks that would not be at all out of place on a DJ sampler’s platter in a nineties meat-factory dance club: “L'Arc En Ciel”, “You Can Run”, and especially “Chomolungma”. All three of these sound like they were recorded in 1992, not 2004, and were intended for an audience that is about as diametrically opposed to progressive rock as you could imagine.

On “More Lost Without You” it sounds as if even the vocals have been digitized and stretched across a mixing board to make them sound closer to a rapping robot than an actual artist.

And finally, I usually reserve comparisons to one of my favorite bad-music whipping boys (Icehouse) for only the most deplorable music. Imagine my surprise when I first heard “We Play the Game” and realized that Alan Parsons himself was singing and actually pulling off a better imitation of Icehouse then that band could probably even manage themselves! Not possible you’d think – but you’d be wrong. A dead-on- clone of Icehouse’s first two albums. Or for an even more obscure comparison, try finding the debut album by a band named Alda Reserve and tell me if this doesn’t come off as just as techno-poppy as those guys. Fortunately both of those bands quit making this kind of tripe over twenty years ago. Unfortunately that’s about when Parsons quit trying to make good music and started pushing the same kind of stuff out.

This is not a good album. If the last eight or ten Parsons albums hadn’t convinced you he is done as a legitimate artist, this one surely will. Don’t bother. One star.

peace

Report this review (#135890)
Posted Sunday, September 2, 2007 | Review Permalink
1 stars When I first played this album, I was, to say the least,baffled by what I had heard. At first I thought that the wrong CD had been placed in the case. Of course this was not the case. I hope Mr Parsons does not think that this mix of techno and computer generated rubbish is "A Valid Path". I much prefer "Try Anything Once" and "Time Machine" I long to hear the vocals of Colin,lenny and even him from Spandau Ballet. I saw Colin Blunstone a few months ago and he sung "Old And Wise" which brought tears of joy to more than a few of the audience. I don't think any of the songs will ever provoke that sort of reaction. I will give it one star because its still Alan Parsons and i'm still a huge fan.
Report this review (#141446)
Posted Tuesday, October 2, 2007 | Review Permalink
2 stars This is the kind of album that makes me feel conservative. Progressive Rock is, of course, meant to be looking forward and searching for new ideas. But if this is progress, I prefer the more reliable Alan Parsons project I knew from the 1980s and to some degree, the 1990s. Not many of their albums were great, as in pure masterpieces, but many of them were very well worth listening to. "Gaudi", Stereotomy and Eye in the sky" all had examples of beautiful songwriting and some experimental ideas. But Alan Parsons goes ambient? I simply don't get it.

I kind of enjoy a song like "We play the game" which has a sort of haunting quality to it, but most of the material is based on repeating monotonous figures, like a constant loop with no way out and no way forward, It has been a while now since I felt like listening to it, because the sense of anger and disappointment I experienced the first times. There might be a chance I decide to give this one another fair chance of convincing me that Parsons chose a bold new, more than "valid" path. But I doubt it, seriously.

Report this review (#159344)
Posted Sunday, January 20, 2008 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars A well trodden path to Ibiza

"A valid path" is as close as Alan Parsons is likely to come to a change of direction. With virtually all of his ties with the Alan Parsons Project now cut, he treads a more overtly electro "path" with dance type rhythms replacing more traditional melodic rock ones. That said, Parsons' ear for a good tune is still in good shape, as are his talents in the production field.

The opening "Return to Tunguska" is an instrumental running to almost 9 minutes. The offbeat rhythms create a slightly disjointed feel, but this is more than counterbalanced by the guest appearance of David Gilmour on guitar. Gilmour's guitar phrases here bear a passing similarity to those on "Shine on you crazy diamond".

PJ Olsson's vocals on the following "More and more lost without you" are uncharacteristic for a Parsons album, the lightweight song having a distinctly pop feel. In a surprise move, Parsons revisits a couple of Alan Parsons Project instrumentals, resulting in a writing co-credit for his erstwhile partner Eric Woolfson being given. The first of these is "Mammagamma (2003)", a track which originally appeared on the "Eye in the sky" album. The version here is infused with programming and sequencing by Jeremy Parsons, Alan's son. The result is an Ibiza type sound, but thankfully the original melody is preserved. The following "We play the game", which features The Crystal Method, maintains the disco type rhythms and sounds, but I have to admit the track is actually highly enjoyable. Parsons takes on lead vocals himself here, and makes a pretty good fist of it.

"Tijuaniac" is a laid back instrumental with drifting sounds and keyboard washes, the sequencing effects being suppressed in favour of a more restrained atmosphere. This is immediately followed by another instrumental "L'Arc en Ciel", featuring Uberzone. This piece complements the previous "Tijuaniac" nicely by raising the tempo while retaining a similar relaxed feel. Sampled female vocals add a delightful, trance like contribution.

The other track which retraces old footsteps is "A recurring dream within a dream", which brings together two tracks, "A Dream Within A Dream" and "The Raven" from APP's first, and for many best, album. While some may take exception to this tinkering with a couple of songs which were perfectly fine to start with, this adaptation, which again features the work of Jeremy Parsons, is carried out respectfully and tastefully. I cannot say in all honesty that the results are an improvement, but they are worthwhile nonetheless, the two tracks knitting together well.

The final vocal track Is "You can run" featuring Deep E and the voice of David Pack. This finally is a song too far as far as the new direction is concerned, with lyrics such as Cuz I can feel ya, yeah I can feel ya trying to pull me down" scraping the barrel of pop clichés. Unfortunately, the melody is prosaic and utterly forgettable too.

The album is brought to a close by the instrumental "Chomolungma", composed and performed by Alan Parsons with Jeremy Parsons and P.J. Olsson. The track features a guest appearance by comedian John Cleese right at the end, but is otherwise inoffensive Ibiza style muzak.

In all, while it is good to see Parsons exploring avenues (or paths), which offer a natural development of his usual style, the results are mixed. There is certainly plenty here to enjoy, and if you scratch the surface prog elements can be frequently found. The dance rhythms may be rather in your face at times, but this album is rooted in the same qualities which made previous APP albums so enjoyable.

Report this review (#183022)
Posted Sunday, September 21, 2008 | Review Permalink
SouthSideoftheSky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Symphonic Team
1 stars Recycle, remix, release

This is the last Alan Parsons album to date, and given that we would get more of what is featured here, let's hope that it remains his last ever! This is, in my view anyway, possibly his worst ever release. I'm not even sure I would consider it a proper original studio album as it contains some Techno/dance remixes of some earlier Alan Parsons Project songs in addition to original material.

As usual Alan Parsons doesn't rely entirely on his own talents but hire a cast of often famous people to help him out. One of the world's most famous guitarists in David Gilmour is here and one of the world's most famous comedians in John Cleese! However, these great people don't exactly save this album from almost complete disaster.

The opening number Return To Tunguska is the best of the lot, it is something of a Trance track with nice electric guitar lines. Quite interesting! However, it is downhill from here. More Lost Without You is a typical Alan Parsons Project Pop song that feels quite out of place after Return To Tunguska. Or to be honest, it is Return To Tunguska that is really out of place on an Alan Parsons album. We then have some dance remixes of popular songs from Tales Of Mystery And Imagination and Eye In The Sky. These are completely unnecessary and bring nothing of value compared to the originals.

I am not going to comment on all the songs, but the closing number sounds a bit like Kraftwerk! Need I say more? At the very end of the album we hear John Cleese complaining about that the music just "goes on and on and on". A more accurate description is hard to find! At least it proves that Parsons has a sense of humour and doesn't take his music too seriously. Or maybe he should?!

Not recommended unless you want to complete your Alan Parsons collection

Report this review (#252199)
Posted Sunday, November 22, 2009 | Review Permalink
snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Last to time Alan Parsons album was a pleasant surprise for me. From his very early works I liked his catching melodies, great sound and pleasant music with touch of progressive sound. Somewhere in eighties I just missed him from my memory.

After many years, somewhere in 2005 or 2006 I saw him live in Trieste, big concert in Piazza Unita, central town's square. To be honest, concert itself wasn't as good as possible, but I heard some old songs and my memory was refreshed. So I just purchase his newest possible album at first possibility.

Yes, it's different music from his older works, and it's for good. Not too many musicians from old generation could change something in their music. Alan Parsons just does it.

Very melodic album of electronic sound. Old pop-rock and art rock is successfully mixed with modern electronic sound, including some techno rhythms and samplers. But in difference from many modern electronic musicians, I can feel rock roots there. Electronic sounds are used very economically, no overproduction at all. Plenty of vintage rock nuances are presented under the electronic skin. David Gilmour added his guitar on great universal.

This album isn't masterpiece ( no Parsons' album was). But it is good example of naturally refreshed music by professional musician. His music always was a pleasant soft- rock, or pop-rock, with some touches of art-rock. Same is now. But on the modern level.

Don't think this album will be interesting for prog purists ( but for me it's difficult to think about Alan Parsons as pure prog artist). But everyone who liked his melodic music in 70- s or 80-s,will be pleased with this work as well (just open your ears!).

Report this review (#260813)
Posted Thursday, January 14, 2010 | Review Permalink
2 stars Track-by-track analysis:

"Return to Tunguska"

Odd, Middle Eastern-tinged techno that opens up with a female voice somewhere between Plavalaguna's wailing from The Fifth Element and Neo's scream from the "liquid mirror" scene in The Matrix. Has a rather neat sound and atmosphere, but, given that it's techno, there's little in the way of substance underneath the endless layered synthesizers, drums, and sound effects. An impressive technical exercise, and one of the more interesting techno songs that I've heard, but hardly something that I'd associate with Alan Parsons.

Apparently, David Gilmour contributed the electric guitar accompaniment in this track. It's good, but it isn't nearly as interesting or structurally important as it needs to be. They could have had anybody do it, and it wouldn't have made much difference.

"More Lost Without You"

Cheap pop drivel. Coming from the man behind "Eye in the Sky" - possibly the best pop song ever recorded - this is just embarrassing. What was Parsons thinking here? He was far past his early-'80s glory days; there was no way that this was going to make it to Top 40 radio. And, if it somehow had, it wouldn't have measured up to even that mediocre standard of music.

"Mammagamma 2004"

One of two remixes on this album, this version of "Mammagamma" (the original being a track on Eye in the Sky) is almost completely unrecognizable as such - which is odd, considering that the original was already a techno song. The original melody is all but buried under excessive synthesized harmonies and drums, with a strange, clucking sound playing over the whole thing. If I hadn't been actively looking for the tune, I wouldn't have noticed the "Mammagamma" connection at all.

"We Play the Game"

More techno-pop, but with the slightest hint of The Turn of a Friendly Card to give it some character. Again, though, that shouldn't be the case if it's supposed to be by the guy who made that album!

"Tijuaniac"

Techno, but boring. I don't know what it is about it, but this song puts me to sleep.

"L'Arc en Ciel"

This instrumental tries to create the atmosphere of a rainbow after a storm (hence the title's French meaning), but that doesn't go far beyond sampled drops at the beginning. I like the way that the drops start to fall in a sort of rhythm before they're replaced by the song proper, but it still doesn't compare to the genuine imagery of "The Fall of the House of Usher: Arrival" (from Tales of Mystery and Imagination), another song that used the idea of calm after (or, given the context, during) a storm, and one which pulled it off far more effectively. (As nice as those raindrops sound, they're far closer to simple drops than they are to rain.) A guitar pops up after a while, but it isn't enough to really distinguish it from the thousands of other techno songs out there.

"A Recurring Dream Within a Dream"

Speaking of Tales of Mystery and Imagination (an album that I would very much prefer to be thinking about), here's the other remix. Opening up with a dishearteningly promising narration, it combines "A Dream Within a Dream" and "The Raven" into one techno-flavored track with none of the vibrant atmosphere of either original song, completely lacking the lushness of the first and the energy of the second. It ends up being little more than a weird, anachronistic mash-up of 21st-century synthesizers and '70s tunes, and it doesn't work at all. What was the point of this song? Out of everything in The Alan Parsons Project's extensive musical output, they picked the one album that would benefit least from a techno remix. Why do something if there's no way to do it right?

"You Can Run"

Pop. Yawn.

"Chomolungma"

Yet more techno, and somewhat in the vein of "Return to Tunguska". Again, well-engineered (the finale will push the limits of most sound systems' clarity), but musically uninteresting, even with the weird, Asian chants and sound effects that suffuse it. The tune, such as it is, is a pair of arpeggios that sporadically surface from the mass of harmonies and effects, and it's little more than a device to keep the song from growing stale as it builds for seven straight minutes. There's a weird little monologue by John Cleese at the end, followed by scattered dog barks; both feel tremendously out-of-place at the end of a song with such ostensibly mystic aspirations, and they would be far more appropriate on, say, a Pink Floyd album. The song is nice enough as far as techno goes, but it doesn't have an ounce of the traditional Alan Parsons character.

Overall assessment:

Ugh. Parsons brought in several techno groups on this outing to help update and reinvent his signature sound, but he went too far - I can't hear anything but techno on this album! I like techno as much as the next guy, but it isn't exactly one of music's better genres - if Parsons wanted to go electronic this time around, he should have done something more in line with Vangelis or Jean-Michel Jarre (shades of which do shine through on the opening track); he certainly had the talent for it, and it would have been much more worthwhile than what we ended up with.

A Valid Path is a terrible Alan Parsons album, and the pop numbers and Tales of Mystery and Imagination remix spoil what could have at least been a decent techno album. What's left is a pitiful collection of songs with exactly three bright spots, and those only in comparison to the garbage that they neighbor. Two stars, because I'm feeling exceptionally generous.

Report this review (#416087)
Posted Tuesday, March 15, 2011 | Review Permalink
Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars I am not a great fan of Alan Parsons even though I like his music and I made a set of collection of his album - studio and live. One thing I always find in common about Alan Parsons albums is that there must be something that I like - especially the soundscape. Well, he is basically an engineer-turned-musician. For sure he is an excellent engineer with a significant contribution to The Beatles' seminal album 'Abbey Road' as well as legendary prog album Pink Floyd's 'Dark Side of The Moon'. His music is basically leveraging his talent and expertise in sound engineering which I think he is really smart in doing it. He might not be a great musician but he teamed up with musicians that could help him make a good music. I salute him on his approach. At the end, I enjoy his music especially under the Alan Parsons Project. The Alan Parsons BAND is more on focusing his own way in doing music, especially this 'A Valid Path' album where the music is basically is his own.

The album opener 'Return To Tunguska' (8:48) is really an excellent instrumental and it's positioned correctly as opener. The music is really packed with digital and spacey / ambient nuances with the touch of Gilmour guitar work. It's a great experience playing this track outloud using a well decent stereo set where you can enjoy all subtleties in the music. I do enjoy and pay high respect his sound engineering expertise as well as musicianship. I can say two thumbs up for this track and I alway replay it especially after having known that all tracks with vocals are not good and boring. You can sense it right away after the excellent opening the music suddenly drop to a lackluster 'More Lost Without You' (3:20). I don''t think people even with background of pop music would like this track. 'Mammagamma 04' (5:05) is another instrumental which sounds quite OK even though it's not as good as opening one - too much dancing or disco rhythm performed her - something like House Music, I think. 'Tijuania' (5:10) is a better instrumental than track no. 3. 'L'arc En Ciel' (5:22) is another good instrumental especially I like the bass recording and guitar solo. Yes there are dancing rhythm but it's quite OK overall. 'The Raven (from A Recurring Dream Within A Dream)' (4:06) is something like retroactive of previous work and it sounds boring. 'You Can Run' (3:52) is a pure R&B music. The album conclude with another instrumental with dancing rhythm 'Chomolungma' (7:07)

It's not quite strong musically as an album but it's also not bad. Keep on proggin' ...!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Report this review (#516993)
Posted Wednesday, September 7, 2011 | Review Permalink
2 stars One of the last studio outputs of Alan Parsons. First of all, I have a great respect for who up to date and inspired Alan Parsons keeps himself - as a former studio engineer, he has the ability to absorp new trends and keep what suits his music.

Contrary to other reviewers or tastes, I don't mind at all hearing techno and electronica on this album. The studio work and engineering is top-notch as on any other of his albums.

The album sounds fresh and contemporary although a far cry from progressive rock. The album will please fans of intelligent electronic and pop music. Fortunately and maybe due to the album sound, most of the tracks are instrumental (well, only the guitar may be the only classic instrument here).

The two sung tracks are average pop tracks slightly below the average of Alan Parsons pop songs. The highlights are the long instrumental tracks. "Return to Tunguska" is a noteworthy electronic studio experimentation.

"L'arc en Ciel" has a powerful rhythm and bass line narrowing a breakbeat/drumnbass territory. "Chomolungma" has a pleasant contemporary vibe and documents Parson's qualities as modern engineer. The setback are two tracks: a re-make of "Mammagamma" and "A recurring dream within a dream".

Not many former 70's progressive rock masters and producers could pull off an album like that and I have a respect for that. On a progressive rock note, 2 stars are deserved, otherwise 3.

Report this review (#2119027)
Posted Thursday, January 17, 2019 | Review Permalink

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