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USX – The Valley Path: Review

May 31 is the release date for the upcoming USX (or U.S. Christmas if you prefer) album entitled The Valley Path. They most definitely are pushing the limits with this one: a single 40 minute track.  I mean seriously, these guys have balls. Their courage and willingness for risk is to be very fond of; their result is not so much the case.

The Music (rating: B)

  1. The Valley Path

The Valley Path has a strong stoner/psychedelic feel. Everything from the guitar tone to the vocal tone to the general atmosphere reeks of the genre. And for the first ten minutes or so, the guitar follows the same line. Again, this type of indulgence is drawn from the aforementioned genre. It has very strong ties to stoner rock.

However, this is far from the average stoner/psychedelic album. In fact, most albums in general are not comprised of a single forty minute track. It is not a non-stop onslaught of music though. There are numerous breaks throughout the song which consist of highly ambient instruments and nature sounds. Having such breaks regulates the pacing appropriately and allows for proper shifts in tone or tempo.

Unfortunately, having a single track seems to hurt this album more than it helps. Personally, I have nothing against these types of shenanigans. I would even go as far as to praise the bravery of the band for taking such a risk. But with this single track, the music does not take as many turns as an album should. The Valley Path goes far beyond the realms of indulgence and crosses into those of repetition. The fact that the first ten minutes or so of the same guitar line is able to sustain itself is remarkable. But then it fades out and into the next section which is much too similar to its predecessor; it even uses a slow tempo and the same key. It builds up and then breaks down. Then the next section starts; it even uses a slow tempo and the same key…

Even if the song were broken up into five smaller ones, not much would be resolved. The album would still be composed of comparable parts and cloned transitions. What was being said earlier was that if The Valley Path was written with the mindset of having numerous tracks, it may have had more depth and variety than it does here.

Overall, The Valley Path is a decent album. It suffers greatly from its repetitiveness and lack of depth or variety. But it does create some great atmospheres and gives much patience to the music. There is much commendable songwriting involved and everything feels fluent and natural. However, I think the album is too ambitious for its own good. There are so many goals and they all seem half-done. It is a great attempt, but only a good result.

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