Of the thirteen tracks on Folio A, six are interludes, i.e. one minute sound collages at best, which leaves us with seven songs proper. Those are great, in the bouquet of sometimes slightly bombastic styles that the band is known for. Though the metal accent has nearly all gone, left is the instantly recognisable sound - brass, glockenspiel and snare drum (in the march-like Potestas Clavium), low synths, organ, electric saz. And the unpredictable hopping between time signatures, like in track 7, a slightly claustrophobic sounding miniature suite for ballet. The disc opens and closes with signature, Arabic inspired tracks, which is what drew me years ago to SC in the first place. Then there are two covers, which have always been one of SC's fortes: a reworking of John Carpenters' Halloween theme - very much in the way Barry Adamson would have done it - and a version of Jacques Brel's La Chanson du Jacky, which can compete with Marc Almond's interpretation from years ago and for me is the cd's highlight. Drive is, like all the remaining tracks, instrumental, propelled by a strong rhythm and paranoid undertones. One has to take into account though, that after all the hype and postponing, expectations were high. And my realization from the credits that Secret Chiefs is actually no more than a studio project wherein musicians never meet (single tracks are recorded between long intervals of time, followed by a lot of cut-and-paste) has shattered a bit of the romance. It is, no doubt, a craftfully and lovingly made album, but rather short at thirty-nine minutes. It fits well beside, but does not stand above, the other Books (or Grand Constitutions). That is why I doubted giving it 4 stars or 5. Awarded it 5 now, but with a reserve: after A follows Folio B? Then Mr Spruance has to come up with a full length disc with few more surprises. And a lot quicker.
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