Unless you’ve been living under a gargantuan boulder for the last sixteen years or stumbled upon this review by taking a series of wrong turns on the way to Justin Beiber’s website, you’ll probably own or at least have heard samples from Cynic’s duo of major works. I’ll save the majority the history lesson which went alongside near every review of the band’s last effort (including my own) and encourage everyone who hasn’t understood this first paragraph to go and listen to ‘Focus’ and especially ‘Traced In Air’. All up to speed? Good.
‘Re-Traced’ is essentially a re-imagining of four tracks from ‘Traced In Air’ – “The Space For This”, “Evolutionary Sleeper”, “King Of Those Who Know” and “Integral Birth” – with a previously un-released track named “Wheels Within Wheels” which was originally written as part of TiA.
The shift in style on the re-writes towards a sort of spacey rock with flavours of jazz and electronic music will come as no surprise to anyone paying attention to the band’s evolution thus far. The new glove fits the old fingers very well and doesn’t sound at all forced as some were worried about; if you hadn’t heard the tracks beforehand, you would swear this is how they were originally written.
The instrumental proficiency is – of course – excellent, but that really isn’t the point in this release. The desired effect is much more akin to that of Masvidal and Reinert’s other project, Æon Spoke rather than that of their other efforts. This is Cynic at their most melodic, spiritual and accessible.
Through every listen, I always find myself comparing the re-traced tracks to their ‘Traced In Air’ equivalents, and each comes off worse because of it (perhaps discounting “Integral” which I may even prefer to the original version). Perhaps it is this that makes “Wheels Within Wheels” really stand out as my favorite, or perhaps it is due to the stylistic similarity to TiA.
When all is considered, this EP is a must for all Cynic fans, even for them to just experience the musical range which the band can cover. It is a successful musical experiment which unfortunately feels like a cheat of a release due to the short length and the fact that we’ve heard these tracks before. It may sound like I’m at odds with myself about what to feel about ‘Re-Traced’, and that’s because I am. Given that Cynic’s first two full-lengths are classics in every respect, their latest simply can’t reach the heights of it’s predecessors given it’s nature. I am very glad to have witnessed Cynic’s new evolutionary phase and to own this EP, but please excuse me while I go and listen to ‘Focus’ on repeat for a few hours.
01 – Space