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Trace - Trace CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.88 | 118 ratings

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Honorary Collaborator
5 stars This is another of those famed Dutch Masters , a prog supergroup featuring the indubitable talents of Rick van der Linden of Ekseption fame , a raging multi-keyboardist in the Emerson/Wakeman class , drummer extraordinaire Pierre van der Linden (no relation) fresh from leaving Focus right after their "3" album and hitherto unknown monster bassist Jaap van Eik. "Gaillarde" explodes straight out of the Ekseption school of "classical music played with rock instrumentation:, the Hammond organ smoking with elegant flair , the synthesized walls of sound simply invigorating , symphonic prog at its loftiest and most majestic. A stunning opener. "Gare le Corbeau" is a glittering Jaap van Eik bass blast; as if to clearly show that he belongs in the company of greats, infuriated drumming and the mellotrons ablaze. "Gaillarde" comes in for a dazzling revisit, the glorious main theme reaching for the heavens, without question a peak of statuesque pomposity, a fabulous fanfare that captivates at first and then gives way to a shatteringly fleet organ solo that drenches and satiates. There is a rare dash of harpsichord that highlights their attention to detail work, a rousing suite that should be considered as masterpiece material and revered as such. "The Death of Ace" is a decidedly more somber affair with brooding piano, mellotron washes and synthesized melancholia all combining to arrange a romantic, more poignant musical composition, the Mini-Moog solo a pert reminder that it could be a talkative method of expression. The choir mellotron adds that magical touch of genius. "The Escape of the Piper" is perhaps best described as "Speed-prog", a fine example of torrid technical bravura on piano, bag-pipe organ (emitting a Scottish feel) , booming bass and machine-gun drumming from the ex-Focus master percussionist. It doesn't last long but it does its damage. "Once" is a Hammond fest that would make the Emersonian emperor pale in jealousy, the bass pounding forcefully with jolly bashing from Pierre , displaying a trio virtuosity that is jaw-dropping! Much like their compatriots in Focus, Finch and Golden Earring, the musicianship is absolutely first rate primo stuff! Mind you, the tradition lives on as Dutch prog still glows brightly today. The ironically titled and 12 minute epic "Progression" (okay everybody laugh!) is inherently more of the same pulsating symph- prog we all should adore , as it represented a major current that disrupted the rock scene with such devastating aplomb, an intricate classical-infused composition that has elegance, power, sweat and brains. The true definition of prog back then, fusing the dense conservatory discipline of classical erudition with the brutal thrust of a bass and drum foundation, a collision of legendary timelessness that was still at its fetal birth in 1974. True pioneers indeed. What becomes immediately apparent is the joyful exuberance of playing such devilish music (check out the clavinet solo, pffff!) and the overall sense of delirious control, a few Thijs van Leer organ snippets thrown in but showing off considerable synthesizer abilities as well. The rollicking, almost funky piano really lays down some serious buoys, organs blowing through the clouds, bass oars pumping to the solid beat, frolicking in the sonic delirium. The 2 part "A Memory" basks at first in thunderclaps and gently howling winds, the propulsive organ threatening like some impending storm (like the tornado brewing outside as I write), some whooshing tones on the synth that seem to corroborate the tempestuous atmospherics. "The Long Past" has a drum solo as an entrance point, a percussive archway that hustles fervently, proving what many knew already that Pierre was a massive drum giant and hence full member in the court of the Crimson Drum. Boom-boom tchak! A brief return to the "A Memory" for a final whimsical salute. "Final Trace" is a diminutive, propos ditty that has no pretense other than to show off a lyrical side, away from the rage and fury previously displayed, a gentle interlude with a wee butterfly/hummingbird synthesizer solo, a rousing church organ rounding out the arsenal and the seamless finale. "Progress" flickers with a ribald clavinet exhibition, lightning fast in passing the torch to the rambling organ, the two-timing bass and the thrashing cymbals and toms keeping the boosters fully fueled. The clavinet resurfaces with a vengeance, repeating the initial theme one more time, a vivid lesson in keyboard artistry. "Tabu" is the last nail in this mega monument, a finger fest of analog keyboards, hyperactive bass and intricate drumming, each emoting with utter conviction. A must-have for fans of symph, technical, classical, jazz and rock instrumentals. Amazing! Frankly as a whole , better than any ELP album .5 microphones
tszirmay | 5/5 |


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