Dec Burke’s body of work is expansive and impressive, with outings in Frost*, Audioplastik and Darwin’s Radio as well as solo ventures, his understated yet all-encompassing talent for fusing musical elements which defy absolute categorisation is pure 24 carat prog laced gold.
Burke’s third outing under his own name follows the success of previous solo albums Destroy All Monsters from 2010 and Paradigms and Storylines from 2011. Book of Secrets opens in full Prog-Opera style with a rainstorm punctuated with thunder rolls, and almost feels like a requiem, with orchestral keys, processional drums and lamenting guitars. An ending to mark a beginning or a taste of things to come? Well, yes and no really. This overture gives way to a sense of the morning after the night before with opening track ‘Reflection’ a mix of loss and resolution which provides a true sense of the fact that Book of Secrets is not a one dimensional story, but a multi-faceted adventure, with each chapter beautifully crafted.
Throughout the album, Burke’s inciteful lyrics intertwine with a master class mix of keyboards provided with consummate class by Carptree’s Carl Westholm, bass from Kristoffer Gildenlow formerly of Pain of Salvation, Drums from Steve Hughes and guitar played by Burke himself, all combining to astounding effect. Sometimes feeling like absolution as in ‘Everlasting’, sometimes like desolation with ‘Intervals’ and sometimes as hard as nails like the sting in the tail that is ‘Hate and Lies’, but always exceptional. As with any project Dec Burke is involved with, the emphasis is always on creating something that provides a unique experience that gives you the unexpected and keeps giving. The elements of prog that underpin his work are still evident, but Book of Secrets provides a showcase for all of his strengths in infinitely intricate packages. Each track quietly embeds itself in your brain so that after a few listens you feel like you’ve always known them, and yet listen closely and you’ll hear something new. Book of Secrets opens itself up and lets you in, making this Dec Burke’s most accessible work to date.
To try and single out any particular track as a stand out is difficult here. Each song contributes something indispensable to the album as a whole, take one away and it wouldn’t be the same, add any more and it would be a different beast. It’s not ‘just’ prog, it’s not ‘just’ rock. It’s a thing of beauty that deserves to be discovered. My advice? Start at the beginning and like any good story, by the time you reach the epilogue that is ‘The Sun Will Rise’, the chances are, as we end as we began, with a rainstorm, you will want to go back to the start and begin the adventure all over again.
- 1. Reflection
- 2. Everlasting
- 3. Take
- 4. As High As The Sun
- 5. Another Hope
- 6. Intervals
- 7. Hate & Lies
- 8. The Sun Will Rise
Release date – Digital download – 29th August, Audio CD – 9th September
Label – Festival Music