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TRACE

Trace

 

Symphonic Prog

3.86 | 89 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Tarcisio Moura
Prog Reviewer
3 stars When I heard about Trace, in 1974, the fact that caught my atention was the presence of drummer extraordinaire Pierre Van Der Linder in the line up. Focus was one of the first dutch prog bands to become popular in Brazil. So almost everything related to Focus ended up being released in my country, at least until the late 70´s. so it was not hard to find this LP and the band´s follow up Birds in the music stores then. Birds became quite popular among progheads and I can remember that I heard it quite often when I was 16 or 17. But only recently I had found the band´s debut CD to buy. And I was not really thrilled with it, even after repeated spins. See below.

I didn´tn know then that Trace was really a kind of supergroup, with all the three members being quite famous in Europe before joining forces. Keyboardsman Rick Van Der Linden (which I thought at the time was Pierre´s brother, but latter I found out they have no relation) was from Ekseption and is the driving force here. The guy is simply terrific with the keys, his technique is absolutely superb. But bassist Jaap Van Eik is also a master on his instrument and together with the former Focus drummer they produced one of the most powerful and versatile rhythm sections ever. So why just 3 stars? The main issue here deals with originality and songwriting (or lack of both). There is nothing in Trace you haven´t heard before and better. Besides the record is totally instrumental, which demanded even stronger songwriting skills, something they were not quite able to come up with. The results are one CD that seems to be showing great musicians doing some technical exercises, rather than playing real songs.

Rick´s playing seems to be a sum of the great ones that came before him: Keith Emerson (mostly), Rick Wakeman (clavinet and mellotron use) and This Van Leer (some melodies). And yet he was not capable of rounding it up into a personal style. Ok, it was only their first, but judging him by his previous experience and his tremendous skills, I was expecting much more. Not that the tracks are bad, on the contrary, they are nice, but the deja vu feeling is overwhelming for 1974: ELP, Triunvirat, Focus, you name it, came first. And those bands did it with more bite, more style and with better hooks.

Conclusion: if you don´t mind the aforementioned shortcomings and specially if you are a fan of keyboard driven trios, then you should give this CD a chance. To me is a bit of a deception, sounding too much like a copycat. Their follow up Birds (with Ian Mosley taking up the drum stool) would be much improved. Rating: something between 2,5 and 3 stars.

Tarcisio Moura | 3/5 |

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