It's been a long time since Dec Burke was on our musical radar, his last solo album Book Of Secrets (see review) released in 2016. The former guitarist with Darwin's Radio, Frost* and Audioplastik is back with a dynamic new album, released on Gravity Dream Music, the label launched by Cosmograf's Robin Armstrong, who also mixes and masters the album as well as providing bass, keyboards and backing vocals.
The album Life In Two Dimensions was written against the background of the 2020 lockdown in the UK. In trademark Burke fashion, it's very much guitar-led and spans a range of styles and moods. He's surrounded by an excellent cast of musicians including Reiner Siemens on bass, Scott Higham (ex-Pendragon) on drums and percussion.
The title track opening the album sets the musical bar very high for what is to come - lots of power guitar and riffing with an infectious melody, Burke's mid-pitched voice coming to the fore in its huge chorus. A trademark piercing guitar solo adds the final flourish.
The sound of sirens, not surprisingly, starts Emergency, a fast and furious shorter song, packed full of action with powerful drumming from Higham. Sister X also gallops along and features a lustrous guitar solo towards the end.
Changing the mood, This Time's acoustic-led vibe is heightened by a gorgeous accompanying cello from Guilherme Aguilar, the song full of sorrow as Burke sings: “Falling to pieces this time.”
Sunlight is a delight, full of little effects, explosions of sound and a kaleidoscopic guitar sequence, whereas Love Steel, as the name suggests, has a more metal, riffing edge.
Energy positively crackles with atmosphere, Kristoffer Gildenlöw joining him on bass followed by one of the best songs, Fly With Broken Wings, a slower, moody ballad which builds and finally explodes into a huge climactic guitar solo.
Burke's rant against materialism, Paper Fortress, starts with lovely piano solo from Robin Z (Dilemma) and again, is full of stellar guitar work from Burke.
Rounding off, Trap Door, the longest track, draws you in from the acoustic opening and features choppy keyboards: another terrific guitar passage to round it all off.
This is Burke at the height of his musical powers and this collaboration with Armstrong a match made in power prog heaven. One of the best albums of 2021.
Read the interview we had with Dec Burke.
****+ Alison Reijman
Where to buy?
All Rights Reserved Background Magazine 2021