A Valid Path could just as easily have been called Alan Parsons Goes Clubbing — but it wouldn't have sold nearly as many copies. No, sir. In fact, I'll be willing to bet my well-played vinyl copy of The Turn of a Friendly Card that unsuspecting longtime Parsons fans will be sacked for a loss when it comes to their first spin of A Valid Path. Marking the Project-less Parsons' leap into electronica, this disc features collaborations with dance duo The Crystal Method, post-modern singer P.J. Olsson, electronic act Uberzone and, least surprisingly, Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour. The man even approaches musical blasphemy by reworking a couple of Project classics into an industrial medley ("A Recurring Dream Within A Dream," which includes "A Dream Within A Dream" and "The Raven") and a techno tune ("Mammagamma 04").
But hold on, old timer. If Parsons, now 55, can embrace what he says is a genre that's all the rage right now, why can't his listeners? Well, one reason might be that Parsons' music wasn't really stale to begin with. Sure, his older albums are dated, but since he dropped the Project and went "solo" beginning with 1994's underrated Try Anything Once, he's kept up with contemporary sounds rather impressively – even if modern pop culture has written him off. A Valid Path takes some getting used to, but fortunately Parsons' familiar vocals and some soaring guitar work help him retain his distinct identity, electronically altered though it may be. A Valid Path isn't a classic, nor do I think it's intended to be. Rather, it's a bold statement from a man who's already established himself with everyone from the Beatles to Pink Floyd. He needs new worlds to conquer, and apparently he sees this record as "a valid path." Who am I to argue?
1) Return to Tunguska (8:48)
2) More Lost Without You (3:20)
3) Mammagamma 04 (5:05)
4) We Play the Game (5:35)
5) Tijuaniac (5:10)
6) L'Arc en Ciel (5:22)
7) A Recurring Dream Within A Dream (4:06)
8) You Can Run (3:52)
9) Chomolungma (7:07)
Total Time: 49:19