Trace – Birds

Some days I find myself falling into a youtube suggested videos rabbit hole. Some days it goes well and I find a few new bands I enjoy and other days I end up in the dark corners of the site that should not exist. One of the good days led to the discovery of Trace, a Dutch prog rock band from the 1970′s. Their music is primarily instrumental and completely fantastic. Rick van der Linden plays the keyboards and holy hell what talent he had. He was inspired by by Keith Emerson and started the band Ekseption who played modern interpretations of classical music by Beethoven, Back and Tchaikovsky. He later moved on and formed Trace which is closer in style to much of the Prog Rock of the 70′s.

Their second LP Birds was released in 1975. I have listened to this album a few dozen times and it never gets old. I will admit it has parts that I am not too keen on mostly because it feels boring and nothing more than filler. Most of the boring happens in the song “Opus 1065″. It is listenable if only for a nice violin and piano duo about 5 minutes in otherwise I can leave it. Most of the rest of the album consists of short 1-3 minute tracks with classical and jazz influences throughout. “Bourree” is the opening track and if you want to hear what I meant by “what talent he had” check that out first.

Birds is anchored by an imposing 22 minute track titled “King bird” (which on the vinyl was listed as 7 tracks on side one). This is another song that showcases van der Linden’s ability which I would say is on par with that of Wakeman and Emerson from the period. It is also the sole song on the album with lyrics, nothing special about them nor anything bad. It’s is a great example of what I love about prog rock, a hand full of songs in one track stitched together in a way that makes audible sense but I fear is wizardry and I will never possess the skill to do myself.

Maybe I should come up with a rating system but for now I will just say if you enjoyed ELP or Yes check out Trace, you can listen on youtube and buy cd’s on Amazon.

Colin

Melvins – Ozma (original version; 1989)

I don’t know much about Melvins, to be perfectly honest. I started listening to them a few years ago (maybe 2009-ish?) and while I do very much like the band, I don’t often find myself coming back to them. Maybe it’s because  I’m always doing something else that demands more attention, like homework or snorting cocaine off of the ass of a mime – and not Robins Williams from Shakes the clown (who was very clearly coked out of his goddamn mind when they filmed that shit.). Movie still gives me fucking nightmares. It’s uncomfortable and slightly diseased feeling.

Appropriately, this brings me to the general feel of Ozma. It’s a pretty gross album. Not the subject matter so much; it just feels like a dingy bathroom. And I don’t mean that in a bad way – It’s an *endearingly* filthy bathroom with lots of creative and colorful graffiti.
But the subject matter is pretty urky as well. Themes of being generally desperate and pathetic, lowly, wormlike. And weird. I always like lyrics that make little apparent sense and are vague without being pretentiously so. Unless Davide Lynch is pretentious.

Well okay, he probably is.  And this is, a little bit at times.

But there’s always something dark, and threatening and sexual going on here. And not in a fun way. Like the dude in the alley wearing the trench coat is masturbating and giggling ass you walk by. Probably coked up.

A track by track rundown would be pointless, all but two tracks fall just under or over the one minute mark. I feel reasonably certain that the original pressings of this album were drugs. I don’t know what drugs. Whatever they were, I would never take drugs that make me feel this disgusting.

I feel like I need to take a shower.

There are few hooks to speak of, and it almost seems crass to call this “music”. It certainly doesn’t sound like it at first – it sounds more like a group of paranoid hobos learned how to riff. And it *sounds* random. But it *isn’t*. There *are* patterns… the hooks are simply too jagged to identify them as such. It takes a very intent and focused listening to pick up on them. And some of them are actually pretty clever.

Any singular adjective I might use to describe any of the sounds on this recording, would only be polluted by it’s juxtaposition with this album.

I rate this album:
Huffing paint in a nightie/10

Psychotic Waltz “A Social Grace”

This is a band that got lost in the 90′s. Devon Graves of Dead Soul Tribe fame (I should use fame loosely and I mean that in a Platinum hit top 40 kind of way which means nothing to me personally, but DST is the reason I know this band exists.) is the vocalist and plays flute occasionally. I am not sure why this band was under the radar but I am going to guess it is the prog influences. Most people find it too complex I suppose. This is also a time when bands from Seattle’s grunge scene were making waves in the music industry and the differences are quite apparent. The band hung it up in 1997 and Graves went on to start DST.

I would describe Psychotic Waltz’s music as a fusion of prog rock, heavy metal and perhaps psychedelic rock. The band calls it Hippy Metal and I guess that works. Graves has such a haunting voice it really ties together with the mood of the music. The smatterings of flute and piano really help give it the prog feel.

There is one song called “Spiral Tower”, it is appropriate because listening to the album from start to finish I sort of feel as I am embarking on a journey up that tower. Fighting Demons and Hydras on my way up losing companions and still soldiering on………I have played way too much Shining Force 2.

When I hear an album and can listen to it end to end without wanting to skip a song it delights me more than most people know. I’d go in depth into the songs but really feel the album as a whole package is what is important here. Each song feels like it was written for the rest of the tracks on the album. Notably exceptional songs are “Halo of Thorns”, “I of the Storm”, “A Psychotic Waltz” and “Spiral Tower”

Check it out. Oh and good news Psychotic Waltz is back together and working on a new album which will hopefully be out sometime before the end of this year.

Psychotic Waltz web page

Colin