Customer Reviews: Stereotomy
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on September 25, 2008
Even for the ardent fan of The Project, the virtues of Stereotomy may not be as readily accessible as their earlier releases. While the preceeding two albums had a somewhat softer feel as well as the gentleness of Eric Woolfson's lead vocals throughout, Alan took the ninth project in a distinctly differenent direction. Lee Abrams, a prominent spoken word contributor to their previous album Vulture Culture, complained of the direction their recent work had taken by exclaiming, "Where's The Walrus?" Thus was born the title to one of the finest group efforts The Project has ever performed, one that earned them yet another Grammy nomination.

For those fans who took a liking to the softer approach with Eric Woolfson's lead vocals, Stereotomy may have been a bit of a shock. While Stereotomy,In The Real World, and Where's The Walrus? (Instrumental) all had a harder edge, each also deserves a close listening, especially the former and the latter which are laden with ornate and ambient depth. Not to mention it was here that John Miles made his triumphant return to The Project after last appearing six years prior on PYRAMID. However, it should also be noted that the softer side of The Project was alive and well in songs like Light Of The World,Chinese Whispers, and the astounding Limelight featuring the earthy vocals of Procol Harem's Gary Brooker.

This new remaster has a warmth that, while present on the original vinyl, was quite lacking on the original compact disc released by Arista. Of the bonus material, the two standout tracks are the pre-vocal versions of Light Of The World (Instrumental) and the newly discovered Rumour Goin' Round (Demo) which was dropped from the original song cycle of the album.

My personal view parallels those of both Alan and Lee Abrams: this departure from the softer approach of Ammonia Avenue and Vulture Culture, while good albums in their own right, was well overdue. As much as I hate to admit it, The Project had become a little too conventional by the mid-eighties. Stereotomy, on the other hand, is anything but conventional.
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on April 24, 2008
I've never owned a version of this album until now, so I don't have a clue if this is an improvement regarding the audio. I have been a fan of the Alan Parsons Project since I Robot & owned everything through Eye in the Sky. It was about that time, for various reasons, that I quit purchasing albums. Stereotomy managed to get to #43 on the charts. The song "Sterotomy" made it to #82 on the singles chart.

The Project has always used a rotating group of vocalists but at the core of this were Lenny Zakatek, Chris Rainbow & Eric Woolfson. For the first time on any Project album up to this point there isn't a Zakatek lead vocal. Eric Woolfson doesn't do a lead vocal either for the first time since The Turn of a Friendly Card. This is further evidence that the Project was taking a different tack.

The first thing I noticed with this album is there a definite eighties influence in the music, dance rhythms have been incorporated into the music of APP. Stereotomy isn't a bad album; I know it's not considered to be the best in his catalog, no, not even close, yet there isn't a weak moment in it. Unlike most of the Project's albums this one didn't open with an instrumental. It definitely makes one feel as if the Project was making a conscious effort to go into another direction. Also, unlike most of the Project's earlier efforts, there isn't a standout song here. The songs that immediately struck me as good were "Stereotomy", "Urbania" & "Where's the Walrus?", the latter two being instrumentals. Instrumentals have been one of the greatest strengths of the Project.

There are four bonus tracks here which show the evolution of some of the songs that are here. One of the bonus cuts is a song that wasn't included on the original album. Let me add one more thing: Ian Bairnson is an excellent guitarist who hasn't received all the credit he's due. He's one of the most tasteful of lead players always giving exactly what the songs required. He's well known in the circle of musicians but the public, in general, doesn't give this man the proper credit. My hats off to you, Ian Bairnson!
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on February 10, 2003
This was their strongest album in a while, both musically and lyrically. Was Eric Woolfson having a nervous breakdown? The theme here is clearly one of losing touch with reality, bitterness at the real world, and drinking too much ("it helps me to forget the past and ease the pain").
This was the next-to-last album with Woolfson as lyricist and vocalist, and I can't help but think it was his siren call for help at not dealing with the fact that the Project was not as successful as it used to be and as maybe Alan was telling Eric it would be.
The album opens with the song Stereotomy, a vague title that seems to mean different things to different people. From what I can tell, it has to do with splitting the two hemispheres of the brain--maybe an allusion to the splitting of Eric and Alan philosophically? The song has a lot to do with fear and paranoia ("Silent knives dissect me and I feel no anything you want with's always the same"). Beaujolais is very catchy, but check out those depressing lyrics ("One race I can't win with an alter ego...wherever I go he go...Beaujolais will be my ruin"). Urbania is one of Alan's most creative instrumentals, with a jazzy flair unlike any other recording of his. Limelight sounds like Eric giving up on ever being in the limelight ("I can hear the roar of a distant crowd, they are calling my name...limelight you were all I ever wanted since it all began"). In The Real World is very much about not being in the real world ("Don't want to live my life in the real world"). Where's The Walrus? is also one of the Project's more creative instrumentals; very dark guitar & synth-oriented. Light Of The World describes a descent into powerful depression "I am lost in so many ways I can walk no more...No matter how much I try the tide will not turn for me...I can take no more". Chinese Whispers is a short but interesting transition to the next song. Stereotomy 2 closes with a reprise of the opening.
Don't get me wrong--this isn't boring. Depression and conflict are powerful emotions, and this album has a lot more emotion and oomph than most of the Project's boring 1980's albums. This is eccentric but a real keeper.
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on January 22, 2004
Although a fine album, the Alan Parsons Project's 1984 release, "Vulture Culture," with it's pop-oriented sound, had many Project fans worried that the veteran studio group had gotten too soft in their musical approach. So, Project leaders Alan Parsons & Eric Woolfson decided that the follow-up disc, 1985's "Stereotomy," would be a tougher-sounding Project album, for which many fans breathed a sigh of relief. This is a powerful, punchy, mostly hard-rocking Project album, and one of their best. The title track is an awesome, classic Project rocker, which segues quite well into the fun, upbeat "Beaujolais." Next up is the terrific, ambient-rock instrumental, "Urbania," and then, the Project turn the volume down a bit for one of their all-time greatest ballads, "Limelight," beautifully sung by the one-and-only Gary Brooker of Procol Harum. "In The Real World" is a cool pop-rocker, and the pumped-up instrumental "Where's The Walrus?" is absolutely electric. "Light Of The World" is a gorgeous song, a true Project buried treasure. Finally, there's the brief, atmospheric "Chinese Whispers," and the grand finale, "Stereotomy Two," with the group charging for home with guns blazing. The album is outstanding from beginning to end, with first-rate songs & instrumentals, incredible, energetic musicianship & production, and great lead vocals by John Miles, Chris Rainbow, Gary Brooker and Graham Dye. Quite simply, "Stereotomy" rocks. The Alan Parsons Project's album sales may have been in decline by this point, but "Stereotomy" certainly remains one of the group's very best releases. Pick it up and crank it up!
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on February 8, 2001
As a strong Alan Parsons Project fan, I am sometimes frustrated by the couple throw away songs on every album, as well as the strict adherence to "formula" songwriting.
For one glorious album, they seem to have thrown the shackles off and let themselves go, and it shows! This may sound a little obscure at first listen compared to their other stuff, but if you keep coming back it has more depth than their other efforts. The irony is that it doesn't really have a central theme, yet it almost works best as an album moreso than any of the others, which often had great singles. There is a great flow and spontaneity to the whole thing that I still love having first purchased the cassette when it initially came out, and now having the CD.
Hidden here (and a travesty that it was left off 'The Definitive Collection', an otherwise top notch collection) is 'Where's the Walrus?', my favorite Project song and the rare instrumental that energizes, mesmerizes, and is just plain fun all at the same time. There is just more umph to this collection (the title track is their first out and out rock song since 'Games People Play') that makes it a hidden gem...
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on May 25, 2000
Easily one of my favorite Alan Parsons Project albums, Stereotomy has a zero clunker content --something that isn't true of most of the APP albums following I, Robot. The album is the first by APP to make use of several new technologies including Yamaha's FM synthesizers (synthesizer buffs will agree that this album has some of the most tasteful FM work in existence) and the new generation of digital reverbs. As a result it has a cleaner, sharper sound than its predecessors. It also has a more electronic and synthesizer-oriented character than any other APP album. I gather that the record label pretty much abandoned Parson and Woolfson on the marketing for this slightly out of the mainstream effort. It lapsed into instant obscurity as a result, but hopefully the passage of time has revealed it to more listeners. "Beaujolais" is my favorite but, as I said, all of the tunes are decent or better.
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VINE VOICEon February 20, 2009
After a series of albums that seemed to go softer and softer, The Alan Parsons Project plunged back into rock with their 9th album. "Stereotomy" broke tradition in several ways; an APP album that doesn't open with an instrumental, no Eric Woolfson solo vocal and the first APP album to be recorded digitally. The old DDD code on the CD made some of us squeamish with joy, as the early Parson's CD's were almost stereo soundtest quality, especially I Robot and Eye in the Sky. Parsons even had a notorious lawsuit against Arista at the time, claiming that his CD's were outselling any other Arista catalog artist and therefore, he wanted his contract and royalties renegotiated along with more artistic freedom. (Google Parsons and "The "Sicilian Defence" for more.)

It was into this new sonic world that "Stereotomy" was unleashed, and it was a pure sonic blast. The shear aggression of John Miles' voice on the title track was a harder rock that probably anything the APP had done before. The sound of 80's synths pulsed through the title track and "Beaujolais," and the trademark instrumental sound of "Where is The Walrus" and "Urbania" just popped from the speakers. In short, "Stereotomy" was the most insistent APP album since The Turn of a Friendly Card.

Sadly, the public had sort of moved on by now and "Stereotomy" met with a middling reception. It's too bad, because there are multiple excellent songs here, and a near-perfect ballad sung by Procol Harum's Gary Brooker ("Limelight'). The original album and CD had a fun multi-color slip-sleeve that was fun to toy with (not on this version, sigh). The remaster is even better than the original CD, enhancing the lower-end considerably and sounding great on a surround system. It's been out of my collection for a few years, but "Stereotomy" is back, and better than ever.
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VINE VOICEon May 23, 2015
From a precise and energetic intro, through to a reprise of it at the end, this album is an underrated musical experience.

"Limelight" is probably the best known work, but my favorite after the title cut is the instrumental "Where's the Walrus".

The bonus cuts are interesting, but you'll need to be a real Parsons fan for them to be a reason to buy.
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on August 16, 2014
I've always been a Parsons fan since I heard their very first album. They have stayed true to the idea of creating new and relevant music to fit the different aspects of our society and daily lives.... I sure wish they hadn't lost so many members of the original group, but life is change after all....
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on September 29, 2005
Strangely enough, my online dictionary defines Stereotomy as: "The science or art of cutting solids into certain figures or sections, as arches, and the like; especially, the art of stonecutting." Is this how the album describes the splitting of Parsons/Woolfson? It certainly is the most personal album of the entire Project, and one of my favorites.

As for the cover - if you turn the picture upside down, you can see it's not part of any ink-blot test - it's the negative of a gorilla's head and shoulders. The inner beast of the artist, perhaps?
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