Cynic – Re-Traced

By Cara Cross

The concept is simple: re-record four tracks from your last album, throw in a new song, bundle them up as an EP and release to critical acclaim.

While Re-Traced is somewhat of a re-tread of Traced in Air, it would be a mistake to write it off as the lesser release. Artistically, it’s a remarkable achievement that demonstrates the breadth and depth of Cynic’s talent.

Some of the songs on this EP are full scale re-interpretations of the originals; others are focused on developing a single sound or idea within the classic track. All are well-crafted, beautiful and precise. “Wheels within wheels” fits in well here. It’s similar in spirit to the re-conceptualized tracks, with a bit more of a traditional Cynic feel.

This EP plays a lot with the dynamics of sound. The interplay between loud and quiet, digital and analog creates rich waves of tension and release. I was struck by the depth of each of the tracks, not just in terms of the layers of sound but also the thought and care that went into crafting these alternate interpretations.

I was also impressed with Paul Masvidal’s clear vocal tracks. You’d think that in stripping away something so distinctive about Cynic’s sound that something essential would be lost. In fact, it’s just the opposite – it creates a space for something beautiful, and authentic, to emerge.

That being said, Re-Traced ultimately failed to hold me in its orbit. While I can appreciate the album on an artistic level, it didn’t create enough momentum to keep me pulled in. Future pressings of this EP should be bundled with Traced in Air — not only because this album is best understood in the context of its namesake, but because Cynic fans are likely the only ones to pick this up.

(Season of Mist)

Sean Palmerston

Sean is the founder/publisher of Hellbound.ca; he has also written about metal for Exclaim!, Metal Maniacs, Roadburn, Unrestrained! and Vice.