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Trace - Trace CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.88 | 110 ratings

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Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
3 stars How not to think of Trace as an extension of Rick van der Linden's old band Ekseption? Rather hard, as Trace holds very many similarities (or same flaws if you wish) than the previous group had. For those not familiar with Ekseption, you might think of Trace as a cross between ELP/the Nice and Focus, with some rather dangerous commercial and aesthetics dangers. Trace can be seen as a supergroup of sorts, as each member (all virtuoso at their respective instrument at that) came from well-known Dutch groups: Rick vdLinden from the afore-mentioned Ekseption, Jaap van Eik from a lengthy Blues career and Solution and Pierre vdLinden (no relation) from Focus. As Ekseption and Focus had quite a commercial success, Trace's career was widely publicized in newspapers (even the serious general press, since these musos were paying their dues/homage to serious higher culture, giving them a very wide audience) and this made their success almost guaranteed.

Their debut album is a clear call to everything the three musicians had done prior to Trace's creation: creating a rock template for reworking of classical oeuvres (yes even Focus was often guilty of this) that seemed to be a Dutch specialty throughout the 70's. I always have a hard time not speaking openly of ripping-off/plagiarizing the classical composers, and there is clearly a dimension of this present in all three Dutch groups. Does it mean that the musicians lacked of ideas of their own? Well maybe yes, since I do not find the same "flaws" in groups such as ELP or its forerunner the Nice: clearly Emerson (past his earlier years) had enough "balls" and ideas to actually transform the classical oeuvres which he re-worked to the point that the reworked- themes gained a life of their own.

My general feeling is that Trace is generally less guilty of this stealing of classical oeuvres (much less than Ekseption or, later, Sky but not any less then Focus, though), and therefore I regard Trace better than its forerunner. Compared to the previous Ekseption, Trace is much more purposeful and personal in their renditions, but also write more their own material. Sometimes dangerously close to Muzak still (but again not quite as much as you-know-who-by-now ;-), it is hard to call Trace's music groundbreaking by the time this album was released. Just like with the previous group, there is also a jazz dimension, which can be at times enhancing the classical themes, but at times cheapening them also, to the point that some became almost ridiculously close to the afore-mentioned Muzak.

If you like instrumental KB pyrotechnics from Emerson, Lord or Van Leer, than Trace's debut album will be the thing for you. For my part, I consider Trace's albums not quite as insufferable as Ekseption or Sky, but will probably never choose this album to spin, if I am given a wide choice.

Sean Trane | 3/5 |


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