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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Alan Parsons

A Valid Path

Review by Gary Hill

For those who have followed the career of Alan Parsons this disc may seem rather strange at first. Parsons here embraces electronic music, with that sound driving the album. It even wanders into techno at times. Still with repeated listenings the disc not only grows on you, but also seems to fall more into classic Parsons territory. Indeed, this one holds up as well as most of his catalog. It includes a reworking of two tracks from the classic Tales of Mystery and Imagination into one song. Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour is one of several guests on the disc, providing some very meaty guitar solos to the opening number. This one might take a little getting used to, but it's definitely worth taking the time.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2005 Year Book Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Return to Tunguska
A decidedly electronic cut, this one features a tasty eastern tone at times. It begins to take on a techno beat eventually turning just a little bouncy. The track gets into quite a cool groove after a while. Pink Floyd's David Gilmour lends several very tasty solos to the mix. This one is a bit unusual for Parsons, quite laid back, but very tasty. A later segment here feels much like something from Floyd's Meddle period, but it drops back to the electronica to carry on.
More Lost Without You
This is the first "real song" on the disc, an electronically based poppy cut. This one is a bit weak. The chorus section, feeling like a modern alternative radio rock hit, is quite accessible. This features a cool techno break.
Mammagamma 04
This is a techno dance groove that would be at home in any club. It wanders toward a more traditional Parsons melody later. This is quirky and fun.
We Play the Game
Starting mellow and technoish, the vocals bring in a more traditional Parsons approach. The vocal performance is quite powerful at times, but the backing melody doesn't do much until a shift to a heavier, more rocking groove later. Then it really starts to gel. The guitar solo on this one is quite tasty. T drops to a percussive break later before returning to the earlier groove. Another killer solo here energizes it, though. The more tasty segment returns later.
Tijuaniac
A very pretty mellow melody stars this, and as the cut builds up it takes on a jazzy texture. This is another that feels like a modern take on classic Parson. This instrumental gets quite weird at times, but it's very cool. It's rather free form and quite dynamic. 
L' Arc En Ciel
Sound effects start this, and the cut gradually becomes an electronic jazzy jam. The melody line over top calls to mind the Pyramids album and other classic Parsons work. This jam is quite strong. It also features some tasty guitar work and sci-fi like keyboard flashes. 
A Recurring Dream Within A Dream
A composite of two tracks from the classic Tales of Mystery and Imagination disc, this includes "A Dream Within A Dream" and "The Raven". This is an awesome addition to the album and makes for a nice modernization of the two tracks.
You Can Run
This begins and ends with a highly processed child's voice that sounds almost like whale song at times. The track is a bass heavy techno romp that really rocks.
Chomolungma
This track feels like an extension of the previous one, but with a revitalized more energetic texture. It gets rather heavy and powerful, and makes a nice conclusion to the album. It becomes symphonic and calls to mind old school Parsons much more than the vast majority of the disc does. After some silence barking dogs end the album. 
 
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