After “Destroy All The Monsters” this “Paradigms & Storylines” is the second solo album from ex Darwin’s Radio member Dec Burke. Dec has also recorded and performed with the band Frost. It is mixed and produced by Stefan Fanden known for his work with Swedish prog band Carptree. I was also positive surprised to see that Carl Westholm (Carptree) is playing the keyboards on this album.
Stefan Fanden - fretted and fretless bass, fretless e-bow guitar, additional guitars; Carl Westholm - keyboards, keyboard arrangements; Mike Wikman - drums, drumloops; Cia Backman - background vocals; Dec Burke - electric & acoustic guitars, lead vocals
When “Paradigms & Storylines” reached my CD player I got immediately the idea that there is something wrong with this album. I am talking about the sound ... not about the compositions. They are fine. The first songs “Days Like These” and “March Of The Androids” are up tempo rock songs and not so interesting for progressive rock lovers. “A Price For Life” has a lot of vocal refrains and some nice guitar solo work. Also the ending has a nice melody. But for me the album starts with the song “The River”. This song opens with beautiful keyboard arrangements and acoustic guitar. And in this delicate opening Dec shows he is a great singer. There are some beautiful vocal melodies in this song that has also some pop influences. He could reach a big audience with this song. There is a lot of passion in this track. “Yesterday's Fool” is a beautiful ballad with nice melodies, delicate acoustic guitar parts and a driven guitar solo. And again those beautiful keyboard arrangements ... a fine song with enough diversity. This is the first highlight of this album. “December Sun” is another ballad with beautiful melodies where the intensity of the music is slowly building up towards a kind of climax. The most interesting song for progVisions readers is the epic and title track “Paradigms & Storylines”. The song opens with mysterious keyboard sounds that slowly develop into a delicate piano and synth melody before it burst into a heavy prog song with aggressive guitars, synth solo’s and catchy vocal refrains. The song has a great diversity with heavy parts next to delicate between areas with beautiful melodies. You can also find some nice guitar solo's and a great synth solo of Carl Westholm in this epic. Absolutely the highlight of this album.
I have mixed feelings about this album. The compositions are fine, you can find some rock songs, beautiful ballads and a long (17:10) prog epic on this album. But I keep thinking what is wrong with the sound of this album. It sounds like there is a veil over the music. The mixing was in hands of Stefan Fanden known for his work with Swedish prog band Carptree. And those Carptree albums have a crystal clear sound and good dynamics. So I think that there is something wrong with the mastering (Uffe Börjesson) of this good album ... maybe to much compression? It’s a shame, instead of a good album it could have been a very good album.
Dec Burke has made with “Paradigms & Storylines” a good prog album with something for everyone; rock songs, beautiful ballads and a nice prog epic. Personally I am a little bit disappointed because the album could have sounded better (especially in the bombastic parts). You must decide for yourself whether this is an issue for you.