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RE-TRACED

Cynic

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal


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Andy Webb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Retired Admin
3 stars Reaching for expectations that can't be met.

After the release of their second studio album, Traced in Air, Cynic decided to release a remix EP called "Re-traced," remixing some of the tracks off that album. The tracks are remixed in a more electronic fashion, with more mellow DJ-like rhythms and electronic melodies (even though the melodies on the album were electronic already. The mellow atmosphere of the songs are nice, but don't live up to the incredible compositional qualities seen on the original album. The shorted titles of the track titles give away a certain degree of what the EP is like -- a stunted version of an original great.

The EP starts off with Space (short for "Space for This"). It immediately starts with a rotating electronic beat, with mellow quiet guitar chords and muffled vocals backing it. The track is very slow and ambient, focusing more on the atmosphere of the overall song than the actual progressions of the music. Some interesting variations on the chorus riffing is seen, but it can't really stand up to the original track's prowess.

Evolutionary (short for "Evolutionary Sleeper") is the massively slowed down version of the classic track off the original album. With a nice atmosphere, the song has little to it's other than that atmosphere. The remix has certainly come a long way from the sweeping grandeur of the original track. Overall, although it has a nice atmosphere, it has little else to call it exceptional.

King (short for "King of Those Who Know") follows the same formula as the rest of the album - slowing the original track into a pleasant atmosphere with nice interpretations on the original chord progressions and riffs. Overall not spectacular, although this song does feature some nice false buildups and releases, making for a nice relaxing sensation. It is one of my favorite remixes on the track and has some of the cooler muddlings of the original sound.

Integral (short for "Integral Birth") takes a turn and is essentially an acoustic version of the original, with some pleasant atmospheres backing it. Although it is still rather slow and contains little but pleasant ambient overtones, the song is quite pleasant, offering a nice new outlook on the presence of the track.

Wheels Within Wheels is the only "actual" Cynic track on the EP, breaking out Cynic's more metallic compositional skill, and reminiscing the glory of Traced in Air without rupturing the river of a song's incredible ambiance with an electronic remix. Overall it may not live up to the amazing expectations of Traced In Air, but still has a great riff sequence and chord progression, making for another classic Cynic track.

ALBUM OVERALL: Re-traced is nothing special. With some pleasant remixes and nice atmospheres to its name, the EP is nice to listen to a few times, but is no classic album. The best track on the album is the last, actual track, and features some of Cynic's more melodic qualities, rather than the electronic remixes of former Cynic masterpieces. Overall, the album is good, and I'm not condemning the remixes as horrid, but they don't function as worthy representatives to the original tracks. 3 stars.

Report this review (#428561)
Posted Wednesday, April 6, 2011 | Review Permalink
UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "Re-Traced" is an EP release by US progressive rock/metal act Cynic. The EP was released through Season of Mist in May 2010. The five track, 23:09 minutes long EP contains re-arranged and re-recorded versions of four tracks from the band´s comeback album "Traced in Air (2008)". The last track on "Re-Traced" is a new composition called "Wheels Within Wheels".

...while the latter mentioned is a pretty soft/mellow progressive rock/metal track, it´s actually the most "metal" track on the EP. The four re-arranged pieces are mellow atmospheric/progressive/alternative rock tracks. The sound of those tracks is actually no surprise if you are familiar with Paul Masvidal´s and Sean Reinert´s alternative/atmospheric rock project Ćon Spoke, which released the "Above the Buried Cry" album in 2004 and the "Ćon Spoke" album in 2007, but if you expect technical/progressive metal in the vein of the first two studio albums by Cynic you´ll be surprised (and maybe disappointed). While "Re-Traced" is not tech metal madness by any means, it´s a beautiful, melancholic and emotional atmospheric rock experience instead. This is where I really learnt how strong the vocal melodies on "Traced in Air (2008)" are. Stripped from the fusion rythm foundation and layers of guitars, the vocal melodies stand naked and vulnable on top of tasteful layers of atmospheric guitars, bass, electronics and drums/percussion. It works like a charm.

"The Space for This", "Evolutionary Sleeper", "Integral Birth" and "King of Those Who Know", which are here re-titled "Space", "Evolutionary", "King" and "Integral", were all great in their original versions, but while I usually find re-recordings less than interesting, the new versions not only bring forth the high quality of the vocal melodies, they also more or less come off as unique compositions in Cynic´s discography and that´s quite the achivement.

Honestly "Re-Traced" didn´t impress me much upon the first couple of listens as I found the EP a bit dull, so it´s safe to say that it´s been a grower. This is one of those releases where I´m really glad that I gave it time to grow on me and after multible spins I can say with confidence that "Re-Traced" is a great release and a nice experiment by Cynic. A 3.5 - 4 star (75%) rating is deserved.

Report this review (#795541)
Posted Friday, July 27, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars 'Under every good song is a great one'. That's what an old mentor of mine once told me and he was never more right about something than when he made that statement and Cynic's Re-Traced EP of reworked songs from the 2010 album Traced in Air is the proof. The EP features four songs from TIA and one new composition and is stripped of the bombastic assault found on TIA in that heavy guitars, tech metal drumming and growls are almost completely absent. Paul Masvidal still employs Vocoder effects but they are at a minimum and are only really noticeable on one song.

Starting with TIA's opener The Space For This you are hit immidiately with morse code ryhthms of acoustic and electric drums as well as light stacato guitar ryhthms before Masvidal's ethereal vocal starts it's spell. This time around Tymon (not doing growls for this EP as the band have dispensed with them) helps out Masvidal with spooky waves of percussion like synths and strange space travel synth swirls that sound far from cliched or dated. Indeed, the synths no longer sound like thay belong to a '80's new wave band like the way they did on the Portal album. The future is finally here. Masvidal is one of those lyricists that takes you on an interior journey as the music takes you through the far reaches of space. The song also features a brief bizzare time changing middle section as synths, drums, bass and vocals slow down to a swirling warped speed waltz before resuming the voyage to the beyond.

What's instantely recognizable is the beautiful melody of the song and the mystical lyrics, two things that seemed to get over looked on TIA as everything but the kitchen sink was thrown into the sound mix. Next up is a cover of Evolutionary that is more stripped down in appearence but is actually quite layed with guitars, more staight up rock drumming from Reinert and heavy fretless bass grooves from guest player Robin Zielhorst (Sean Malone was absent for outing but will re-appear on the band's next EP). Evolutionary also displays a great melody, beautiful yearning vocals from Masvidal and is another stunning re-interpretation. King is reshaped with jazz and it's remarkable how sympathetic drummer Sean Reinert is to this material as he has a wonderful sense of swing and really drives the song home. The last of the reshaped tracks, Intergral, is just Masvidal singing with only his acoustic guitar, light synth, organ and guest Amy Corria helping with harmony vocals as accompaniment. This song is the album's low point as it is just a bit too plaintive and the mystical lyrics (about reincarnation?) are lost on me. The final song, Wheels Within Wheels, is a new track that features shuddering bass from Zielhorst, great ryhthm and lead work from Masvidal and Tymon with Reinert back to his old power house technical self. The song could sit easily on 2014's Kindly Bent To Free Us and is an equal to the best songs from that album. Cynic is a band that claims to keep tunes and ideas in their pockets for a long time as they mull over the material. Perhaps this was the beginning of the Kindly Bent To Free Us material. Re-Traced is a bit of tease as it fades out after 25 minutes but it's an excellent opener for the group's next EP, the stellar Carbon Based Anatomy that was released in 2011. It's true, sometimes good songs just get better. As Re-Traced is another short EP by the band, I feel that 4.5 stars is a fair rating. Imagine if they remade the entire TIA album. That would have been 5 stars easily!

Report this review (#1207053)
Posted Tuesday, July 8, 2014 | Review Permalink

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