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. "King-Bird" 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
Rick van der Linden - Kawai grand piano, Hohner D6 clavinet, Hohner pianet, Hammond B3-M3 Organ, Neupert harpsichord, A.R.P. 2600 Synthesizer, Solina String Ensamble, Mellotron 400D, Church organ of the St. Bavo church in Haarlem, EMS synthi-A, Optigan music maker, Steeldrums, Riha classica Ian Mosley - Drums, Timpani, Chinese Gong, Duckcall tamborine Jaap van Eik - Vocals, Fender precision bass, Fender stratocaster, Fender fuzz-effects, Phased guitar Guests:Darryl Way - Acoustic/Electric Violins on Coen Hoedeman - assorted monkeys on