Trace

Reviews

Trace

Trace
(1974)

Right after Rick van der Linden had been kicked from Ekseption, he formed this superb trio. This is classic- influenced trio-progressive at its very, very best! Trace, which also included former Focus drummer Pierre Van Der Linden, played progressive rock that often was based in classical themes, and they did absolutely EVERYTHING right! The opening track "Gaillarde" is based in some stuff from Bach, and classical influenced progressive rock don't get better than this. It starts very baroque but turns into a really rocking part that kicks real ass and the melodic part in the middle is extremely beautiful, symphonic and majestic. The keyboard playing of Rick Van Der Linden (LOTS of Hammond, but also harpsichord, mellotron and moog) sounds incredible! He has maintained his style from Ekseption, but added another degree of energy. The rest of the album holds the same high quality. The most complex track is the 12-minute "Progression" and it sounds a little bit Focus influenced. In "Once" the organ playing and theme reminds a quite a lot of ELP. Anyway, this is totally essential for any lover of keyboard oriented classical influenced progressive rock. In fact, this album is some of the best I've ever heard of this style!

(Tommy Schonenberg, Vintage Prog)

Trace brought together the cream of the Dutch progressive scene, so it's no surprise that Trace is a phenomenal album. Opener 'Galliarde' (segueing into bass solo 'Gare le Corbeau' before returning to the original piece) is an absolute stormer; I was grabbed by it on my very first hearing (thanks Brian!) and still love it a decade later. Basically a straight mix of Bach's Italian Concerto (third movement) and a traditional Polish dance tune, 'Galliarde' rocks like a bastard, with Rick's insanely virtuosic organ playing and the rhythm section blasting away like their lives depended on it. The slow-down to the Mellotron-led folk tune is stunning, with Rick letting out a couple of incoherent yells on the part's repetition later in the track. Grieg's 'The Death of Ace' is a beautiful piano piece (also recorded by Ekseption on their contemporaneous release Bingo), shifting into more familiar territory later in the track, and 'The Escape of the Piper' shifts into top gear once more, with energy levels rarely heard in the progressive arena. In fact, there's nary a duff track on the whole album, with 'A Memory' also standing out.

Rick used a huge arsenal of keyboards, including his ubiquitous Mellotron M400 (strings/choir/brass). As you can see, he uses it on almost every track, usually in rather unconventional ways, fading chords in and out unexpectedly on various sounds. The album's 'Tron highlight has to be the previously-mentioned Polish dance section of 'Galliarde', but all the Mellotron work is worth hearing, although there's little of the Genesis/Yes approach here. In fact, the best way to describe the band is a manic cross between Focus and the best bits of ELP, although Rick avoids Emerson's tastelessness admirably, while still keeping the energy levels higher than you'd have thought possible.

The bonus tracks on the CD are worth hearing, although 'Progress' is, unsurprisingly, an edit of 'Progression'; 'Tabu' is a Dizzy Gillespie tune that onto which Trace stamp their distinctive sound. These tracks came out as a single prior to the album's release and are worth hearing if you don't already own Trace on vinyl. Quick note for vinyl owners; the US Sire version has an inner sleeve with a band history/biography and track-by-track annotation, missing from the UK Vertigo issue.

(Andy Thompson, The Ultimate Melotron Recording List)

Trace was a Dutch prog supergroup. Usually when I think of "supergroup", I tend to run with all my might in the other direction, because with that word, it usually spells bad news, it often turns out the music is less than super, prime example goes to Asia. But I'm glad to say Trace isn't like that. Trace's 1974 debut consists of keyboardist Rick van der Linden from Ekseption, drummer Pierre van der Linden from Focus (not related to Rick), and bassist Jaap van Eik from Cuby & the Blizzards. Because of that, the Focus comparison can't be avoided, because there is times the music does resemble Focus, but because there are way more keyboards and no guitar, it also brings to mind ELP. Despite the connection to Ekseption, if you written that band off as little else than a cheesy and shallow attempt to "rock the classics" with a horn section, you will be very pleasantly surprised with Trace, it totally lacks any of the cheesiness of Ekseption and there are no horns, so the keyboards and drums shine on this album. That means Trace was totally serious about being progressive all the way. Compared to the one Ekseption LP I own, their self-entitled 1969 debut, the keyboards on this album just simply blow Ekseption right out of the water. Rick van der Linden's keyboards on that Ekseption album was simply piano, Harpsichord, and Hammond organ, on Trace's debut, he used all those, as well as synthesizers (mostly the ARP 2600), Mellotron, and portative pipe organ. The album starts off really mind-blowing intense, but I find the album a bit uneven, as there are some rather slow parts as well, not to mention I just got me a copy Finch's Glory of the Inner Force, which is so mind-blowing intense that it almost makes Trace look like slackers in comparison. But regardless, if you like keyboard driven prog in the Focus and ELP vein, you're sure to love Trace's 1974 debut.

(Ben Miller, Amazon)

If your idea of great progressive rock is all about the Hammond Organ, you'll want to check out "TRACE". On their self titled album, this keyboard-bass-drums instrumental power trio mixes original compositions with rocked up adaptations of classical works for a sound that is a cornerstone of keyboard based progressive rock. You could roughly call it Emerson, Lake and Palmer--without vocals or guitar ballads.

Trace features a talented group of musicians working with well written material, but misses my 5-star review due to it's one dimensional style. While the synth usage is not great--even by 1974 standards--Rick van der Linden's Hammond Organ playing is nothing short of incredible, besting the well known progressive rock organ masters. I've owned the vinyl copy for 25 years and I'm still wowed by his command of the instrument.

Like some other progressive rock, this album is one that you have to overlook the small things that aren't done right in order to get the big things that are done right. This record is in-your-face Hammond almost from start to finish. "Trace" is a MUST HAVE for progressive rock Hammond Organ lovers.

(J.G. Gird, Amazon)

This is the first release by the Dutch group Trace, formed in 1973 by keyboardist Rick van der Linden (previously the leader of Ekseption) with drummer Pierre van der Linden (from the group Focus) and bassist Jaap van Eik (with various groups). As expected, van der Linden's keyboards pretty much dominate the session, which is a decent effort by progressive rock standards. "Galliarde" blends part of Bach's "Italian Concerto in F major" (BMV 971) with a traditional Polish dance that originated in the 13th century. This piece incorporates a small pipe organ, a Hammond organ, and a mellotron. It segues into van Eik's "Gare le Corbeau" (primarily a feature for electric bass) before returning to a reprise of "Galliarde." Grieg's "The Death of Ace" (from his "Peer Gynt Suite") begins with a piano solo by the leader, before the tedious mellotron returns to simulate a mournful choir; van der Linden's synthesizer playing also leaves a lot to be desired on this track. Among van der Linden's originals on this record, "The Escape of the Piper" blends a touch of jazz with a whimsical inclusion of bagpipes; while "Once" features the keyboardist on organ in an up-tempo blues groove, as well as a bit of electric harpsichord and a good bit of musical humor. Less successful is "Progression," which is a bit long and bombastic, or "The Lost Past," which is an extended drum solo by Pierre van der Linden. While Trace followed up this release with two additional recordings before disbanding, this is their best record, although it has been out of print for a long time and will likely be difficult to find.

(Ken Dryden, All Music Guide)

The first trace (pardon the pun) of dutch keyboard master Rick Van der Linden. After his long stretch with Ekseption (Dutch prog/pop/orchestral outing) He founded Trace...a keyboard powered trio in the vein of ELP. There are traces (sorry) of ELP and indeed of Nice....some hints to Focus without the fabulous guitars of Akkerman....however the main man was/is Van der Linden... A master of the keyboard ...as this record shows!! Its beyond believe power trio keyboard master piece!! Hear ye hear ye of little faith..this is by far the GREATEST Keys, Bass & Drum outfit there is/was...yeah i know you love ELP (so do i!) but this.. is by far the most wonderful thing happening in the progworld of keyboards!! Track nine shows just how great the drummer is!! The rest speaks for itself....hammond/moog/synthesizer a plenty. And the compositions are just GREAT...blended with classical (in fact)themes!!! Now i know that there are someone out here (Hi Maani) who probably doesnt like this. And maybe i'm biased..i owned this record on vinyl...and i love it!! So there you have it....its a five star (Ohhh no not again) review!!! And this cd comes with 2 extra tracks (apparently their singles) as bonus!! If you love ELP/Ekseption and Solution...then you'll absolutely adore this TRACE with their first outing!! What can i say? I Just love it!!! Five stars? Ohhh yes!!! Of course!!!

(Tonny Larz, Progarchives)

By many a almost forgotten group with good roots in the far more known Focus. Listening to Traces debut-album even today brings many good feelings to vibrate. Maybe not so demanding as Focus could be, but more of a salute to one of prog-rocks roots, classical music. The way Rick van der Linden moves through a melody : floating, attacking, but never really resting, has always intrigued lovers of the big and wonderful sound coming from his keyboards. In fact no matter what his playing this seems to lift the music further and further. But this is no van der Linden solo-album. Not at all. The sound coming from the rhythmics by these three musicians are tight, warm and produced with a clear, fat sound. Perfect collaboration. Listening to the first track Gaillarde sets the beat perfectly and follows to the very end of this incredible good album from 1974.

(Zaragon, Progarchives)

Add another half star. A power trio that wanted to leave a "Trace" in rock history but failed to reach such an achievement, and mainly because there is not a real gem in this first effort. Their technical ability is great, being these three men the most celebrated dutch musicians of the '70, and everybody who likes keyboard driven rock in the vein of ELP will enjoy the Musea reissue (which includes a and b side of the Philips 7" that in 1974 anticipated the release of the album). The music, however, is exactly what you can easily expect, Focus meets Ekseption, without a real development. An enjoyable addiction to your prog collection, but not really a masterpiece.

(Bonzo, Progarchives)

Dutch keyboard-wizard Rick got worldwide recognition with the 'classic-rock formula' from EKSEPTION but he wanted his own band to work out his own ideas. He founded TRACE with bass player Jaap van Eik (CUBY AND THE BLIZZARDS, The MOTIONS, SOLUTION, LIVING BLUES) and drummer Pierre van der Linden (TEE SET, BRAINBOX, FOCUS), a real Dutch supergroup. TRACE sounds like the Dutch equivalent to early ELP but Rick has a wider array of keyboards, including Hammond B3 organ, Hohner clavinet and pianet, ARP – and EMI synthesizers, harpsichord, Solina string-ensemble, Mellotron and church organ. He even used the sound of a bagpipe. The music on the eponymous debut album is a treat for fans from bands like The NICE, ELP, TRIUMVIRAT and early LE ORME. It delivers exciting, often sumptuous, keyboard driven symphonic rock: the mainly instrumental music is loaded with virtuosic keyboard runs, swirling Hammond organ and majestic Mellotron, supported by a powerful and propulsive rhythm-section. The Musea CD-release contains two bonus tracks ('Progress' and 'Tabu') and the history of Trace with nice pictures. Recommended to all progheads who want to be blown away by 'keyboard pyrotechnics' in the vein of Keith Emerson, Patrick Moraz or Toshio Egawa (from GERARD).

(Erik Neuteboom, Progarchives)

Listening to Trace's first album, it's like a war. Notes sprawling and tearing up your inner ear like bullets fired straight out of a smoking machine gun.

Lightning Bach style, super tight bass/drum interplay. It's Emerson Lake & Palmer...but without the gigantic ego, the lyrical bullcorn and the awful by-product filler that every album's filled with.

Some bands are just TOO COMPETENT to write a page of history (and therefore, being understood) and Trace is one of the leader in this sad but mind-boggling category maybe with Echolyn or Par Lindh Project.

In fact, the product is purely an exercise. In no way these guys thought they would carry on or reform on day on the sake of making a few dollars. Because this band probably made some money by doing marathon concerts. Hard working, not physically attractive (Rick van der Linden looks like an anorexic Leif Ericksson) and ridiculously perfectionist...dude, this record is tough to swallow and needs time to digest to full appreciation.

This is a major kick in Rachmaninov's...er, piano I guess.

Dedicated to all the Raiders of the Lost ARP....

(John von Bayer, Progarchives)

Rick van der Linden became famous for his virtuosity on the keys; this first album from Trace clearly demonstrates what a wizard he was on the keys. Yet, even more than that, Rick knows how to use the right sound in the right place, he has his own method of coloring his music, and it makes his music very recognizable.

The emphasis on this first, magnificent album from Trace is on the 'wild' element. It feels as if, after leaving the band EKSEPTION, Rick is caught in an explosion of creativity, and this resulted in a unique, daring, adventurous album. The album he made with EKSEPTION ('Trinity') which preceded this first one with TRACE pretty much is like a prelude to his one, having two larger pieces on it, and it concludes with a finale similar to the one on this album. Rick uses a lot of different instruments, he even uses a vacuum cleaner to play the bagpipes(!) in the track 'The escape of the Piper'. He incorporates themes from classical composers like Bach and Grieg to en even greater degree into the music, it all flows effortlessly and in a natural way. On the track 'Once' he completely turns loose on the Hammond in a Jazz frenzy, in other tracks like 'Gaillarde' and 'Progression' he turns the Hammond into a ferocious predator. And throughout the entire album Rick shows his impeccable skill in arranging the music.

This truly is an excellent album, and for this reason I awarded it with a fully deserved 5- star rating

(Dz, Progarchives)

Birds
Birds

(1975)

Another classic! Drummer Pierre Van der Linden had been replaced by future Marillion-drummer Ian Mosley. But you shouldn't get scared by that fact. The music on "Birds" is in the same style and of the same high quality as on the debut-album. The album opens with a version of Bach's "Bourrèe", and it's played in the usual fresh and inspired Trace style. Great! "Penny" and the energetic "Snuff" shows the band from a more jazzy side, and especially the last mentioned track is superb. On "Opus" 1065" (another Bach-adaptation) you can also hear the excellent violin playing of Curved Air violinist Darryl Way. And just as on the first album, Rick van der Linden has a very good taste when it comes to keyboards. I guess tons of hammond, mellotron and harpsichord should prove that, or what? The highlight on the album is the group's own 22-minute masterpiece "King-Bird". The guitar-theme on the beginning and end sounds very Focus inspired, and the track also included a very nice vocal part sung by Jaap van Eik. Musically, this track is classical influenced, keyboard dominated symphonic progressive rock at its very, very, very, very, VERY BEST!!! Music can't simply get any better than this! It may not come as a surprise to you that I give this album my highest recommendations. Simply stated: buy or die!

(Tommy Schonenberg, Vintage Prog)

By Birds, a year later, Pierre van der Linden had left, being replaced by Englishman Ian Mosley, later of Gordon Giltrap/Steve Hackett fame, before ending up in the prog graveyard better known as Marillion. The band's style had changed little in the intervening year, although the album probably has fewer of its predecessor's real highs. Side one is effectively one long track split into repeating parts, rather like Focus' 'Eruption' from Moving Waves, so my Mellotron annotation may be slightly awry. Most of the music is excellent, but the piece is slightly spoilt by Jaap van Eik's vocals on 'Preacher Bird'; his singing is fine, but Trace were basically an instrumental band, and an MOR vocal piece feels rather intrusive. Side two starts brilliantly with Bach's 'Bourrée', but turns rather jazzy as the side progresses, which may or may not be good, depending on your taste. Curved Air's Darryl Way guests on violin on some more Bach, 'Opus 1065', but overall the album lacks the direction of their first. I'm being picky, though; if this was the band's sole legacy, it'd still be regarded as a classic.

(Andy Thompson, The Ultimate Melotron Recording List)

Trace was a Dutch band that played extremely energetic and inspired keyboard heavy classical rock. Their second album is reportedly their finest, and indeed comes off like a more light-hearted and less mechanical Emerson, Lake & Palmer. Trace is somewhat notable for it's membership, featuring keyboard whiz Rick van der Linden from Ekseption and drummer Ian Mosely, later of Marillion. Though I've heard fairly unanimous bad things about the classical adaptations on the Ekseption album, van der Linden's playing on Birds is phenomenal. This is high-energy, unabashedly pompous stuff that is just a lot of fun, making use of every kind of vintage keyboard imaginable.
The album is made up of a bunch of short tracks and then the epic "Birds" suite. Of the earlier tracks, "Bouree" is a blast, kicking off the album in grand fashion and setting the tone. The highlight of this first part of the album is without a doubt "Opus 1065", an adaptation of a Bach piece that is absolutely stunning. Darryl Way's violins are used incredibly here. Definitely one of the nicest rock adaptations of a classical piece I've ever heard. "Penny" is a fairly boring jazz workout, and is rather tedious as anticipation builds for the incredible title suite. "Birds" is no disappointment. This track has it all, as it works through it's various themes, borrowing liberally from classical pieces throughout (don't ask me which ones) and mixing it all with the frenetic keyboards and general rock and roll machismo. The band also must have saved their strongest original material for this one as well, as there is hardly a weak point on the whole thing. Occasionally, vocals appear for the first times on the album, and aren't overly unpleasant despite the slight accent. This is a keyboard album for sure though, the clear attraction being van der Linden's generally bombastic but electrifying playing. One of the best Dutch albums I've heard for sure.

(Greg Northrup, 2001, The Giant Progweed)

This is the second of three records by Trace, a trio led by keyboardist Rick van der Linden. By the time they recorded their second LP just one year after taping their debut, they had already
undergone a change in personnel, with Ian Mosely replacing Pierre van der Linden on drums. The album's first side is sort of an extended suite, though it is an incongruous mix of pipe organ with a plodding electric bass and drums during "King Bird." "Preacher Bird" features a weak lyric sung with little feeling by bassist Jaap van Eik and has a prominent role for the acoustic piano, although the synthesizer and harpsichord sneak in as well. "Bouree" is taken from Bach's "English Suite No. 2 in A minor" (BMV 807) and is turned into a miniature hard rocker before it deteriorates into a comical midsection with fake bird calls and a tiresome vamp. But "Opus 1065," the leader's interpretation of Bach's "Concerto for Harpsichord and Strings in A minor" (BMV 1065) never picks up sufficient steam, though it features some tasty violin by guest Darryl Way. The one true bright spot of this release is van der Linden's sprightly solo piano arrangement of jazzman Bix Beiderbecke's "In a Mist," which unfortunately is barely over a minute in length. The downhill slide of Trace on this second LP is painfully obvious, so it is doubtful that there is much demand for this long-deleted record.

(Ken Dryden, All Music Guide)

TRACE were a trio producing very keyboard rich music with embellishments of a classical genre added in for contrast. "Birds" would likely represent IMHO their defining moment offering some grand jazz/rock progressive themes. TRACE were Rick van der Linden (keyboards), Ian Mosley (MARILLION) drums and Jaap van Eik (bass and guitars). "Birds" combines shapes of CAMEL, ELP and FOCUS within a very tight and very original structure and wall of sound. This is truly a rich album with some awesome keyboards and amazing drumming. The album is made up of a number of shorter tunes and then an epic side long piece 'King Bird' which gives them lots of room to unfold quite a piece . They also manage to cover two J.S. Bach tunes. The re-mastered CD also contains 2 excellent bonus songs taken from the same recording era and were apparently released separately as singles. Darryl Way makes a grand guest appearance on the violin on TRACE's rendition of Bach's "Opus 1065" which is one of the richest tracks you will hear. A great album.

(James Unger, Progarchives)

Trace's BIRDS is somewhat would call...a diamond in the waste. The skills of Rick Van Der Linden are more than talent. I just don't get it, why some are complaining about this album. It's delicate, it's virtuosity, it's a blend of baroque (Curved Air Daryll Way's violin in Opus) and vintage keyboards that takes you back to a simpler time. A time when all you needed to have a prog band is a big beard. Those birds (pun no intended) are rare to find. Please, when you listen to that record, think vintage. Think simple. Think like you were in 1975, with converse and adidas shirts. Place yourself in that time when producers searched for talent, not attitude. And believe that, these guys had no looks...but Birds had total talent and innocence. That's the mark of 70's prog.

(John von Bayer, Progarchives)

TRACE.....excellent "keyboard trio" ...which should appeal to friends of Triumvirat and Ekseption (of course!)....and if you know/own the brilliant REFUGEE (Moraz) you will also wanna know/own this brilliant album.Keyboard master Rick van Der Linden (ex-Ekseption) really shows, what a master of those black and white tangents, he is!! This, the second of 3 fine "keyboard trio" albums ..starts of with a beautiful rendition of J.S.BACH's : Bouree....and also they throw in, a bit of funky chords. Now I mentioned Van Der linden....but there are the brilliant drumming of one: Ian Mosley (yes. he of Marillion fame!)..last ,but not least: Jaap Van Eik on bass. When listening to this (and you really should!) you will be submitted to great keyboard playing...and great compositions. Well enough said...if you like the above mentioned...and/or are a real keyboard freak... this is one album, you shouldn't be without!! Great stuff!!!!

(T. Larz, Progarchives)

Like the previous album from TRACE, I give this one also a 5 star rating. Whereas the previous album puts the emphasis on the virtuosity of the band members, this one highlights Rick's skill in arranging music to an even greater degree. Usually his music sounds so good and natural that the skill that has gone in creating the track goes by almost unnoticed: some Hammond here, a fluff of harpsichord there, a little mellotron in the background passing by. And it's not just the use of instruments, his special signature also extends to his use of harmony, the way he structures melodies, it makes him very recognizable. Centre piece of this album is the Birds suite, it consists of several shorter movements strung together, with Rick using a host of different instruments, including the church organ. 'Bourree' and 'Snuff' are high energy tracks with a key role for the Hammond (in "Bourree" Rick combines Bach with a roadie imitating a monkey), 'Janny (In a mist)' is a short Bix Beiderbecke solo piano piece, delightfully played, whereas the track 'Penny' is a sensitive trio for piano, bass and drums. Rick duels with Daryl WAY, who is the guest star on "Opus 1065", a piece based on the "Concerto for 4 harpsichords and strings in A minor" from J.S.Bach. If you add to this two bonus tracks, an in-depth bio of the band in the booklet, this release is too good to let it pass you by.

(DZ, Progarchives)

White Ladies

The White Ladies
(1976)

By The White Ladies, Trace had become the sole preserve of Rick van der Linden, and the album has to be regarded as something of a disappointment. A concept piece, it's based on the Dutch legend of the White Ladies, who steal a farmer's wife away from her husband and child. Unfortunately, there's some extremely naff narration by Harry Schäfer, not to mention more MOR vocals, this time courtesy of Hetty Smit, and much of the album is orchestrated. Despite all this, there's plenty of Rick's distinctive keyboard work (especially his unusual approach to the harpsichord), and if the narration and vocal parts were removed, it wouldn't be a bad album. As it is, it's certainly listenable, if a bit cheesy at times; better than Ekseption, whatever..

(Andy Thompson, The Ultimate Melotron Recording List).

By 1976 it became apparent that Rick van der Linden was past the golden years of his career. The second Trace-album had, despite its musical qualities, been something of a commercial failure compared to his earlier projects. The fact that both Jaap van Eik and Ian Mosley had left the band didn't exactly made things look very brighter. But Linden started to work on his own on a concept-album based on a Dutch myth from medieval times about "the white ladies". These ladies were obviously some kind of ghosts/fairies that captured people and made them dance forever, free from all troubles and pain. The resulting album was really more a solo-project than a Trace-album. Linden had got several of his earlier band-mates from Ekseption to play with him on the record, making it sound more like his main band than the two previous Trace-albums. The record was of course filled to the rim with Linden's fantastic playing, and he was easily one of the most tasteful keyboardists in progressive rock. However, the material was unfortunately not on par with the excellent arrangements and performances. The beautiful "Doubts" (that later would resurface as "Faith" on Ekseptions' "Ekseption '78) was the only theme that managed to rise above the overall mediocrity of the album. "Dance of the White Ladies" and "Witches' Dance" are also interesting, as they showed that Linden could use the synth in a far more controlled and intelligent way than Keith Emerson. But many of the other themes sound uninspired and are often hard to distinguish from one another. And as usual, we also get some classical adaptations, this time two of Beethoven's works. There are other and better examples of Linden's musical vision and personality than "The White Ladies".

(Tommy Schonenberg, Vintage Prog)

It was painfully obvious that the group Trace was already a memory as this final release was being recorded. Keyboardist Rick van der Linden, its founder, is the only remaining member from either of Trace's previous two records. This LP is a dreadful concept album, van der Linden's musical interpretation of an old Dutch legend about "The White Ladies," which dates from the Middle Ages. Van der Linden recruited a few associates from his old band Ekseption, including bassist Cor Dekker and drummer Peter de Leeuwe, as well as additional musicians. But Harry Schafer's narration is stifling, and singer Hetti Smit's vocals are forgettable, as is all of the original music. The leader's reworking of classical compositions by Beethoven is also of little help. Following this recorded fiasco, it is safe to say that Rick van der Linden and Trace sank without a trace. Skip this turkey.

(Ken Dryden, All Music Guide)

This album is the third and last release of the Dutch band TRACE. Although the band's name is TRACE, the line-up resembles EKSEPTION much more than TRACE (with Peter de LEEUWE on drums, Cor DEKKER on bass, Dick REMELINK on sax, all three former members of the old EKSEPTION). As such, it sounds much more like an EKSEPTION album than a TRACE album, classical themes interspersed with rock and jazz. With this album Rick deviates from the original TRACE concept, which was completely keyboard dominated, and he introduces sax, strings as well as a female singer (Hetty SMIT). Thus, the album sounds very different from the previous TRACE albums, the music is more structured and refined, and the 'wild' element is restrained in favour of nuance and melody. The Dutch folklore story of the White Ladies is the source of inspiration for this album, which starts out with a narrative accompanied by strings. Most of the music is written by Rick van der LINDEN, but he has not forgotten to incorporate themes from Beethoven as well: in the song 'Pathetique' and 'The Rescue' Rick uses themes from Beethoven's 8th and 3rd sonata for piano. In the tracks 'Dance of the White Ladies' and 'Witches' Dance' the 'wild' element steps into the spotlight, while in tracks like 'Doubts', 'Surrender' and 'Conclusion' the wild element leaves the spotlight to the melody. There are moments when the drums lack punch and imagination, and at these times the absence of the original TRACE drummer Pierre van der LINDEN is felt. But, all in all, this is a very balanced album, and I found it highly enjoyable. This release of the original album on CD is (like the other two albums from TRACE) done in an excellent way by the MUSEA team, with detailed documentation about the history of the band and its leader, Rick van der LINDEN.

(DZ, Progarchives)