Exposé Online banner

Trace — Birds
(Musea FGBG 4176.AR, 1975/1996, CD)

by Mike Ohman, 1997-02-01:

Birds Cover art

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.


Filed under: Reissues , 1996 releases, 1975 releases

Related artist(s): Darryl Way / Wolf, Trace

More info

Latest news

2019-06-05
Legendary Co-Founder of The 13th Floor Elevators Passes Away at Age 71 – Sadly, Roky Erickson passed away on May 31, 2019. Known as the father of psychedelic music and co-founder of the ground breaking 13th Floor Elevators, Roky had a profound influence on music from the 60s to today. Plagued by his own personal demons, Roky had a difficult life and is now free of these burdens. » Read more

2019-04-24
Help MoonJune Bring Great Music to Life – Like many music lovers around the world, we’ve been thrilled and amazed to hear the recordings that have been released by MoonJune from sessions at La Casa Murada in Spain. Such label stalwarts as Mark Wingfield, Markus Reuter, Asaf Sirkis, Tony Levin, Dusan Jevtovic, Vasil Hadzimanov, and many more have gathered in various combinations at the studio to produce some of the most creative music in recent years. Now, label head Leonardo Pavkovic is offering a compilation, La Casa Murada - MoonJune Sessions, Volume One, as a fundraiser for upcoming sessions. » Read more

2019-04-10
The Pineapple Thief to Tour North America – November and December of 2019 will see The Pineapple Thief bringing their music to Canada, Mexico, and the US, and famed drummer Gavin Harrison will be on board. The band has been touring extensively in Europe, but North America will be new territory for them. » Read more

2019-03-25
Scott Walker RIP – Noel Scott Engel, better known as Scott Walker, was one of the most intriguing and enigmatic musical figures in the second half of the 20th Century. His strange career started with The Walker Brothers, an American pop group that featured no one named Walker and no brothers. After moving to England in 1965, they had a series of hit singles. Scott's solo work started with Scott in 1967. Starting in the 80s, his work took an increasingly avant-garde turn. » Read more

2019-03-20
Freedom to Spend Unearths June Chikuma's Archives – Jun (June) Chikuma is well known for her video game and anime soundtracks, but she also released an album of experimental electronic music back in 1986 called Divertimento where she indulged the kind of spontaneity that wouldn't work in a soundtrack. RVNG Int'l label Freedom to Spend is bringing this overlooked item to broader attention with a deluxe reissue. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Frogg Café - The Safenzee Diaries – First things first. This is one of the absolute best sounding live albums this writer has heard, made even more surprising because nearly every track across the 2CD set was recorded at a different...  (2008) » Read more

James Coleman - Zuihutsu – We’re all familiar with the swooping outer-space sound of the theremin, the venerable electronic instrument played by waving the hands in the air around an antenna, so when I received a copy of a...  (2003) » Read more

Óðmenn - Óðmenn – These days there are basically two ways of finding out about long-forgotten progressive artifacts (well, three if you count good old fashioned word of mouth): magazines / fanzines / newsletters such...  (1995) » Read more

East of Eden - Mercator Projected – An engaging and groundbreaking early British progressive band, East of Eden used electric violin, dual saxes, flute, recorder and bagpipe to add texture to their guitar based rock. The end product is...  (1995) » Read more

Jeff Greinke - Lost Terrain – This is one of Jeff Greinke’s best releases to date and definitely worth the words “an ambient music classic.” Greinke’s inspiration comes from both Brian Eno and Jon Hassell,...  (1999) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues