5. Wheels Within Wheels
Normally, you won’t catch me running out and getting excited over any sort of remix album. It seems that most of the time, the remixes bear no resemblance to the original song save for maybe a vocal sample cut up here and there for a few seconds so we’ll get the reference. With this in mind, I was skeptic when Cynic first announced their Re-Traced EP. Luckily, the guys in Cynic are smarter than to steer directly into such a pitfall; instead, they chose to think outside of the box and rewrite four songs from their critically acclaimed 2008 album Traced In Air and package it alongside a brand new song. The result of this experiment has been highly anticipated, and their efforts have proved to be satisfying.
The reinterpreted songs take a stripped down approach for the most part, certainly taking a step back from any sort of metal feeling that they’ve had on Traced In Air. Paul Masvidal also turns off the vocoder effect for a majority of the EP, with his bare voice taking center stage. You can even hear tiny imperfections in his voice from time to time, such as little voice cracks and raspiness cutting through, which contributes to the innocent charm that this EP carries throughout.
“Space” sets the tone for the album, being mellow with an air of psychedelia. “Space” takes on more of an industrial feel, with a simple programmed drum beat bleeping through the song under the reworked-but-recognizable guitar and vocal melodies. The song gradually gets louder and noisier before hitting its climax and calming to a floaty and lush environment. Paul’s description of “sci-fi prog folk” is starting to make sense. The reworking of “Evolutionary Sleeper,” “Evolution,” starts out mellower that the previous track, but it later builds and erupts into an alt-rock explosion, like a louder and more distorted version of The Cure, which is something new and different for Cynic; but then again, so is most of this EP.
“King” feels a bit jazzier than the other tracks, and feels sort of like lounge jazz on a cocktail of LSD and Ambien. Much like the tracks before it, “King” gets louder and noisier by the end before bubbling back down into something more relaxing. The final re-imagining, “Integral“, is the most bare-bones of them all. Paul sings over acoustic guitar and ambiance provided by a chorus of wine glasses, which is an interesting experiment that creates something remarkably beautiful.
The final song on Re-Traced is the Traced In Air B-side “Wheels Within Wheels.” It’s the heaviest song on this EP, but it’s mellower than anything from Traced In Air, which makes it easy to see why they felt it didn’t belong. It could be seen as a bridge between Traced In Air and Re-Traced, had it came as the first track. Perhaps this mellower and shoegaze influenced sound is the new face of Cynic? If so, I’m certainly open to the change, as this EP was certainly interesting, and an excellent listen.
Cynic – Re-Traced gets…