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Symphonic Prog • Netherlands

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Trace biography
Rick van der Linden's father was a pianoplayer, so it was not a surprise that young Rick took piano-lessons. Later he started to learn playing the organ and finally he went to the Haarlem Conservatory. He played in many bands and nightclubs and was impressed by Brian AUGER and Keith EMERSON. Rick got worldwide recognition with the 'classic-rock formula' from EKSEPTION but he wanted his own band to show his keyboard pyrotechnics. 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! Now he got the opportunity to work out his own ideas with keyboard-dominated symphonic rock. In '74 TRACE released their eponymous debut-album, in '75 their second entitled "Birds" (Ian Mosley had replaced Pierre van der Linden) and in '76 their third and final "Ladies". TRACE is a kind of 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 is a treat for fans from bands like The NICE, ELP, TRIUMVIRAT and early LE ORME. Despite good albums, great concerts and worldwide recognition, Trace didn't work out the high expectations and the 'supertrio' dissolved in the late Seventies. Nowadays Jaap van Eik is chief-editor from the technical based music magazine Music Maker and Rick is after many years again on tour with a new EKSEPTION line-up, including a magnificent digital church organ and his wife on vocals.

The first two albums "Trace" and "Birds" (released on CD with bonustracks by Musea Records) deliver exciting, often sumptuous, keyboard driven symphonic rock: the mainly instrumental music is loaded with virtuosic keyboard runs, swirling Hammond organ and majestic Mellotron eruptions from wizard Rick van der Linden, supported by a powerful and propulsive rhythm-section. In my opinion the tracks on "Birds" sound more elaborate and refined. The epic composition "King-bird" (featuring Jaap van Eik on electric guitar) showcases the hugh potential of TRACE: dazzling keyboard runs, many changes of climate and dynamic interplay. The third album "Ladies" is a lacklustre effort, the band was running out of ideas. This record turned out to be their swansong.

: : : Erik Neuteboom, The NETHERLANDS : : :
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TRACE discography

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TRACE top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.88 | 110 ratings
3.93 | 107 ratings
3.62 | 65 ratings
The White Ladies

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TRACE Reviews

Showing last 10 reviews only
 Trace by TRACE album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.88 | 110 ratings

Trace Symphonic Prog

Review by manofmystery

4 stars The sounds, the glorious sounds. My mind's panties melt for these insatiable tracks. What more can be said but that one can find little more satisfying use of an hour than ramming their mind in and out and in and out of this album again and again till collapsing in a coma of ecstasy. What good are words, really? None can be found on this album yet it's still considered a full album and not a "rating only". This music needn't be sullied with a slobbering of word by myself or any man, woman, or child no matter how robust. Good, 100, so, overall, excellent album.
 Trace by TRACE album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.88 | 110 ratings

Trace Symphonic Prog

Review by Gatot
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Rick van der Linden's departure from his original band he co-found in 1968, Ekseption, to form Trace seemed really worth it as in here with his new band he could explore his musical talents widely as he feels that this is his band supported by other musicians Jaap Van Eik (bass, guitar) , Pierre Van Der Linden (drums). The band was originally named as ACE but since there was British band with the same name they changed the name to Trace.

Well yeah, this album is much more dynamic - at least on keyboard side - where Rick really plays his keyboard the way he really wants it. For me personally it's really great because I can sense the nuances of ELP music with much more classical music touch presented by Rick van Der Linden. Take for example the excellent opening track "Galliarde" which is basically from 3rd Part of the Italian Concerto BWV 971 in F Major by J.S. Bach and traditional Polish dance, arranged by Rick van der Linden. If you follow the music right from start to end it's a very dynamic one where you can hear dynamic and inventive keyboard work by Rick van Der Linden backed with jaw-dropping drums work with great energy. And it's not only can hear the powerful bassline which also followed with bass guitar solo - remembering to the composition of 'Improvisation' from Ekseption 'Trinity' album. I really admire this sort of music as this refers to the classical music but performed in jazz-rock style by Trace.

Overall, the composition is really well rounded with its main roots on classical music and then expanded into jazz-rock fashion that finally forms Trace music. The melody flows nicely from track to track, stemming from the original classical music - but the changes of tempo and style do not cause the music being off-tracked as it all form as one cohesive whole. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

 Trace by TRACE album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.88 | 110 ratings

Trace Symphonic Prog

Review by stefro
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Formed by ex-Ekseption keyboardist Rick Van Der Linden after his departure from the group and belonging to the same symphonic sub-genre that houses the likes of Emerson Lake & Palmer, The Nice, Refugee and fellow countrymen Focus, the Dutch trio Trace produced three albums during the mid-seventies, skilfully marrying complex classical themes, modern rock ingredients and a hint of jazz fusion to create a vibrant and mainly instrumental sound steeped in the traditions of early progressive rock. Whilst, ultimately, they failed to generate the same levels as interest and commercial gain enjoyed by Focus and, to a lesser extent, Ekseption, Trace nevertheless did leave behind an intriguing sonic legacy that showcases just what superb individual musicians they were. Most of all, however, Trace are a reminder of the vast and wonderful world of 1970s European progressive rock and the many exciting and obscure groups still waiting to be discovered by those willing to look hard enough. The trio's debut album, 'Trace' was Recorded at Soundpush studios in Blaricum, Holland, during the spring of 1974 and issued on the Dutch arm of Phillips. The line-up for the album saw Rick Van Der Linden(keyboards) augmented by his brother Pierre(drums) and Jaap Van Eick(bass), with Rick composing the bulk of the material. The album starts promisingly, with Rick's ever-shifting keyboards weaving an attractive melody on the toe-tapping 'Gaillarde' before morphing into brief-but-entertaining Van Eick-penned 'Gare Le Corbeau', one of only two tracks on the album not written by the older Van Der Linden brother. Highlights, however, appear further on, as the fiendishly jazzy 'Once' makes way for the album's twelve-minute centrepiece 'Progression', a classically-spiked organ-led rocker that skims carefully through several interconnected sections, in the process showing off the trio's excellent interplay. It's a marvellous track, and one filled with an array of moods and textures, charting a course which takes in a dazzling keyboard beginning, a soothing, almost psychedelic central section and a driving, drum 'n' bass-inflected denouement. Very much an album for those who dig ELP-style histrionics or the slightly smarter sounds of 'Hocus Pocus'- era Focus, 'Trace' is an impressive album from a talented trio. They arrived probably a little too late to the symphonic prog party, their brief-but-bright career is well-worth checking out, with follow-up effort 'Birds' featuring more helpings from the same classical-prog bowl. STEFAN TURNER, STOKE NEWINGTON, 2012
 Birds by TRACE album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.93 | 107 ratings

Trace Symphonic Prog

Review by Atavachron
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars

"Whatever is impermanent is subject to change. Whatever is subject to change is subject to suffering." -- Buddah

Tibetan Buddhism believes in mistakes, or at least the mistake's importance in art and life; nothing in the physical or psychological world can bring lasting satisfaction, and therefore one should not attempt or seek it out. That imperfections, flaws or blemishes are in fact necessary for the transcendence of what man creates, for a spiritual realness only achieved by the austere, or in the case of the Japanese aesthetic wabi-sabi, an appreciation of the irregular, asymmetric, simple, and of the asperity of natural processes and forms.

This is precisely what is missing from Trace's Birds. Granted many progheads will not find this lack of flawed beauty an issue. So be it. But the almost machine-like precision and perpetual motion caused by this trio is both unsettling and unattractive. In this way, Van Eik, Mosley and Van der Linden do bring to mind acts as Triumvirat, Ekseption, or Kaipa, but are even more sanitized & sterile. At least those guys never forgot they were playing rock. Quotes from J.S. Bach's second Suite showoff Rick Van der Linden's chops and I will say, to his credit, he did play real instruments which is more than many current players do. It being 1975 perhaps he had no choice but it's still nice to hear a real church organ, an actual Grand piano, a genuine harpsichord. 'Snuff' is run-of-the-mill symphonic pop, indistinguishable from any number of other post-ELP variants, and 'Janny' is misplaced here, oddly detached from the rest of the set.

Finally a very cool interpretation of Bach's Concerto for Four Pianos shows us these guys' compositional taste and brilliance, and is nearly eight minutes of first-rate art rock featuring Darryl Way's haunting violin solo break. Yearnings for the American 20th century in jazzy and Gershwinian 'Penny', and our entree; the massive 'King-bird', an epic piece that surely helped give a bad name to Prog in Europe (and everywhere else) with twenty-two relentless minutes of huge, melodramatic walls of symphonic rock at its most self-involved and delusional, and includes eighteen - count 'em, eighteen - individual parts. It's also quite well done if requiring far too much commitment from what surely would've been a baked and besotted listener. Its stuff like this that ensured pop music would always flourish and have an audience. A 'Birds' short edit and a second take of 'Tabu' are included on the Musea reissue.

Though key among the Emersonian subspecies of bands, Trace gave us too little too late and left behind a lukewarm legacy of otherwise hot music. Three stars is just about perfect.

 Birds by TRACE album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.93 | 107 ratings

Trace Symphonic Prog

Review by The Truth
Collaborator Post/Math Rock Team

4 stars It's not often I enjoy albums like this to the extent I like this album. The whole classical music reworked into keyboard-oriented progressive rock was cool when I was first introduced to it but has really grown stale over the years. I no longer enjoy bands like ELP and Triumvirat as much as I used to but this album by the wizard Rick Van Der Linden's brainchild, Trace, is absolutely stunning to me and has stayed that way for a long period of time.

Birds never delves too deeply into the plasticy sound that other classical reworkings produced, instead it sort of just redefines it elegantly but definitely with a newly found emotion. The use of the basic piano really does wonders as it gives the same effect of the keyboard without being overused. A good proportion of the two really makes the album just flow easily. Each track is mainly instrumental (save for some really kind of laughable, strong Scandinavian-accented singing which actually gets stuck in your head) and it definitely thrives from this. It's actually the catchiness of most the tracks that's the reason I keep coming back to it.

Rick Van Der Linden can play, and I mean he can PLAY. That is what this album is, his songwriting and arrangement ability fused with his keyboard playing ability. The album is also a brilliant one at that, a fun and engaging listen each time.

Overall, a real treasure to me. One of those cheese-prog gems that I can still listen to with pride.

4 solid stars.

 The White Ladies by TRACE album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.62 | 65 ratings

The White Ladies
Trace Symphonic Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Trace's swansong was a concept album about a farmer's wife who is spirited away from her home by the spectral White Ladies of the title to live a wild and carefree life with them. Her husband considers her to have been abducted, and sets off to rescue her, but even once she is brought home she eventually decides to leave to join the White Ladies again, though it is unclear whether this was really her choice.

The story, as outlined above, is communicated in a rather heavy-handed way at the start of each side of the album, with Legend Part 1 and Legend Part 2 consisting of Harry Schafer's rather monotonous narration over the band's playing, leaving the rest of each side to consist of mostly-instrumental keyboard showboating on the part of band leader Rick van der Linden. Hetty Smit's vocals at one point on the album are a high point for me, but on the whole the album doesn't quite manage to hold my attention all the way through. It's on a par with the other Trace albums really - a great pick if you want an album based around showing off van der Linden's keyboard skills, but I don't personally feel it holds up to repeated listens.

 Birds by TRACE album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.93 | 107 ratings

Trace Symphonic Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Though Trace's Birds contains a number of guest appearances that will surely inspire interest from many prog fans - Marillion followers will be keen to hear an early performance from Ian Moseley, who takes the drummer's stool for this album, whilst Curved Air's Darryl Way presents a violin solo which spices up Opus 1065 - the album itself isn't really much to write home about. It's really a refinement and continuation of the approach taken on the debut, but whilst it's all competently put together and performed, there aren't really any genuine head-turners on this one. The epic King-Bird which takes up the second half of the album is the best track available, but even then it doesn't really do anything prog fans won't have heard a dozen times before. A decent enough album if you really want more music keyboard-led three-pieces in your collection, but nothing to set the world on fire.
 Trace by TRACE album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.88 | 110 ratings

Trace Symphonic Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Trace was Rick van der Linden's supergroup whilst he was taking a break from Ekseption, and the ELP-alike lineup is a hint as to the musical approach taken - keyboard-dominated, with regular borrowings from classical music standards (though they aren't so reliant on classical covers as some ELP clones are). The compositions are light, breezy, and whilst they're a bit forgettable they're at least entertaining. Whereas ELP would split their efforts between super- complex serious business pieces and dumbed-down novelty tracks, Trace steer a middle path, finding a decent compromise between complexity and accessibility which makes the album a fun listen, though I can't say there's much material here to keep me coming back again and again.
 Trace by TRACE album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.88 | 110 ratings

Trace Symphonic Prog

Review by 1967/ 1976

4 stars Great album by a great babd. But in my opinion "Trace" is not a masterpiece... Also if the music was masterpiece.

Aged well or not well? ...Hmmm... I do not know. Because Trace was a trio in the vein of The Nice, ELP or Le Orme but in my opinion most Rock... Too Rock and symphonic. With too organ in first line. That is OK, of course. But... Ok, but... Or maybe, in my opinion the music have too magic but not too atmosphere as The Nice, ELP or Le Orme. Not because Rick van der Linden (organ, various keyboards), Jaap van Eick (bass) and Pierre van der Linden (drums) are not capable of giving emotions, but because they have given birth too energetic and Rock compositions. Not problem, in my general view, only that this fact went to the expense of symphonic element. For me, in a correct view, "Trace" remain a good album, great I think. But the problems that I have explain are essential to my correct vision.

Production, mixing and writing are superior to the media, of course and the sound is... A dreaming sound. But, also if great, "trace" is not a masterpiece.

 Trace by TRACE album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.88 | 110 ratings

Trace Symphonic Prog

Review by friso
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Trace - s/t (1974)

Ok, your going to have this party and you invited all your sympho-prog buddies. How to make a good party AND listen to progressive rock? Well, the answer my friends, put on your cd/lp of Trace.

To give a short impression of what this Dutch super-group has to offer: key-bass-drum symphonic prog with use of many classical pieces played as if they were a rock'n-roll outfit that was given the goal to destroy the building they were playing in. The atmospheres are really that of an up-tempo raging rock band, but instead of harsh guitars and screaming vocals, Trace uses its insane technical possibilities and compositions to completely surprise you with a bulk of energy seldom seen in prog.

Keyboard player Rick van der Linden is known from Ekseption and is absolutely (perhaps along with R.J. Stips) the top of keyboard players in Holland, if not the world. He uses piano's, organs (with that great ELP sound), choir and violin mellotrons and of course the mighty moog. Famous drummer Pierre Van Der Linden of Focus and Brainbox fame is given a cart blanche to show everything he has and I must say it's a truly inspired performance throughout. His drumming is perhaps my favorite element of the record. The great surprise is however Jaap Van Eik of Cuby and the Blizzards fame (great Dutch blues- rock band which you should check out!). His bass playing is perfect, with an awesome technique, amazing speed and great harmonic findings. His jazz-bass on 'Once' is a blessing. This makes up a three-part super-group I was speaking of.

The sound of Trace is very professional and the recording is perfect. Perhaps one of the best of seventies Dutch prog. The style of Trace has of course a lot to do with ELP. Some elements of the band's style and sound could hardly called original, but the way they play classical influenced prog with it's amazing technical achievements and rockin' sound is really something new. Furthermore this debut has no bad moments, no songs and no vocals (oh wait a minute.. during chaotic moments one can sometimes hear primal screams haha). It is a very concentrated effort.

Conclusion. Ok what do we have here: super-group, perfect use of classical music material, a truckload of fun, great solo's and high quality throughout. I know this will not be one of the most original key-oriented prog records, but I still want to give the full five star rating. Trace get's away with hyper-technical prog by showing how funny being pretentious can be. It's rock'n roll mentality is a true winner. Four big stars for the Trace debut. I surely hope it won't take me as long to find a vinyl copy of their second album!

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition.

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