Trace — Birds
(Musea FGBG 4176.AR, 1975/1996, CD)
by Mike Ohman, 1997-02-01:
Often unjustly dismissed as "Rick van der Linden's post-Ekseption band" or "Ian Mosley's pre-Marillion band," Trace certainly deserve to be remembered for what they actually were rather than for from where its members came from/went to. Birds is definitely the better of the two albums currently available, especially the untitled suite which took up all of Side 1 of the original LP. This flows in much the same way Focus' "Eruption" or "Hamburger Concerto"; a bunch of little pieces strung together to form a cohesive whole. There's a bit of sailing Akkerman-esque guitar on the opening and closing bits (entitled "King Bird"), otherwise it's van der Linden's keyboards all the way. From the opening pipe-organ blast, you certainly know what you're in for with this album: brassy Mellotrons, squealing synths, rapidly arpeggiating harpsichords. Sure, this is "look-how-flawless-my-technique-is" keyboard prog in the tried-and-true Emerson mold, but I've yet to hear it done as well. The rest of the album, while not bad, doesn't quite match up. Mostly it's covers of Bach and Bix Biederbecke, familiar stuff for Ekseption fans, but done with far greater exuberance than Ekseption ever managed. The best of these is "Opus 1065," based (very loosely) on Bach's "Concerto for Four Harpsichords and Strings in A Minor," which features a superb guest appearance by Darryl Way on violin. The remaining originals are of no great consequence: two light jazzy pieces and "Trixie-Dixie" (van der Linden playing around with an Optigan, a children's toy chord organ). The Musea CD version for some reason exchanges Side One and Side Two in playing order. It also appends two good bonus tracks. The first one, "Birds," is a re-recorded single version of "King Bird." Keyboard prog fans, don't miss this one.
by Henry Schneider, 2016-03-17:
Birds, released in 1975, was the second album by the Dutch progressive band Trace. This CD reissue contains the complete original album plus two bonus tracks, "Birds" and "Tabu," which were only released on a single. Birds is an interesting excursion through classical, jazz, and progressive music. It contains two interpretations of Bach compositions, some excellent violin work by Darryl Way reminiscent of Bartók, and an excellent performance by Rick van der Linden (ex-Ekseption) of Bix Biederbecke’s jazz piano classic "In a Mist." Other points of reference are Soft Machine and Focus. Pierre van der Linden, Rick’s brother and Trace’s first drummer, was also Focus’ drummer. Ian Mosley, who replaced Pierre on drums for Birds, is now Marillion’s drummer. Birds is a masterpiece of progressive rock from the seventies that stands head and shoulders above today’s neo-progressive releases. Don’t pass this one by.
Gong Announces UK Tour for 2020 – Having spent the last few years touring the world, including dates in Japan with psych legend Steve Hillage, multiple headline European tours and festivals, America’s Cruise to the Edge festival, a South America headline tour, and a headline performance at Tomorrow Festival in China, the band have won the hearts of both traditional and modern Gong fanbases. During this live journey, Gong has delved further into the truly psychedelic, exploratory, and mind-expanding side of the music. » Read more
Wolfgang Dauner RIP – Pianist Wolfgang Dauner, one of the pioneers of both European free jazz and jazz rock, has died at the age of 84. With his own groups and with the United Jazz+Rock Ensemble, his playing and compositions were a prominent presence in European jazz from the mid-60s until just recently. » Read more
Michael Allison RIP – Michael Allison, who since 1997 has been recording as Darshan Ambient, passed away on January 9th after a long and brave battle with cancer. He has been at at the forefront of the new ambient/electronic music scene, with over eighteen releases to his credit. » Read more
Neil Peart RIP – One of rock music's defining drummers has died at the age of 67. Neil Peart's work with Rush provided one of the templates for percussion in rock, and he certainly ranks in the top ten most influential drummers of the 20th Century. Peart retired from playing in 2015 due to health issues, and succumbed to brain cancer on January 7, 2020. » Read more
Vander / Top / Blasquiz / Garber - "Sons" Document 1973 - Le Manor – With the relase of AKT I - Les Voix de Magma, Christian Vander launched his new label to release live and unreleased studio material to all the eager Magma fans around the world, following the... (1994) » Read more