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Incredible arrangements from a genius who rarely records

Van Dyke Parks - Songs Cycled
(Bella Union)
4 1/2 stars (out of 5 stars)
Reviewed: August 1, 2013
Van Dyke Parks

Review by Andy Argyrakis

It's not all that often that artist/composer/producer Van Dyke Parks turns in a new release of his own, which makes "Songs Cycled" a special event in and of itself. Just for the record, it's the legend's first solo batch of fresh material since 1989, but even with all the time that's passed and the fact he's now 70-years-old, this latest body of work is just as innovative as ever. After listening to the lush, cinematic soundscapes of "Missin' Missippi" and "Dreaming Of Paris," it's easy to see why Fiona Apple, Rufus Wainwright and Joanna Newsom (to name a few) are still clamoring for his arrangements, though Beach Boys fans will also have plenty to devour.

Parks revisits "Hold Back Time" (originally from 1995's collaboration with Brian Wilson "Orange Crate Art"), which keeps right in line with their work together on the iconic "Smile" thanks to its multiple layers of musical idiosyncrasy and sunny harmonies. Consider "Songs Cycled" to be the soundtrack to a practically perfect dream, which blend Parks' distinctively quirky vocals, witty social commentaries and a production genius that's undisputed to this day.

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