Yesterday Anso wrote a piece about how Cynic are good to combat “mega-highness,” and reader Kasper Maigaard left the following comment below the column:

Will you guys please shut up about Cynic now? You’ve given one of their members his own SEGMENT for fucks sake, so will you at least try (TRY) to go a whole day without ONE mention mention of them? Or you could just marry them straight away and skip all the meddling around.

Well, Kasper, we totally WOULD marry Cynic if they’d have us, but it’s still pretty early in the relationship and we’re afraid that if we tell them we love them now, we’ll come across as needy and scare them away. So while the courtship continues to play itself out, I’d advise you to just not read any posts about Cynic (or any other band we write about that you don’t like).

For the rest of you, I would now like to talk about Cynic’s upcoming EP, Re-Traced, a little bit.

I was a little, um, cynical about Re-Traced, to be quite honest; I’m not a fan of remix albums, and while this isn’t a remix album, the concept is kind of the same – the band re-imagined (or whatever you wanna call it) four songs from their already-legendary 2008 Traced in Air in a variety of different musical styles, and I just wasn’t sure I understood the point.

Silly me. Whether you prefer these versions to the original or not – and I’m not even sure we need to draw such arbitrary imaginary lines in the sand at all – will be a matter of personal taste, but all the do-overs are just as imaginative as you’d hope. It’s hard to even say, “Oh, they did this song in this style and that song in that style,” because with one exception (which I’ll discuss in a moment), none them really fall into a distinct genre; it’s not like there’s a jazz version of  “The Space for This” or a calypso version of “King of Those Who Know.” That might have been kind of a fun experiment, but ultimately it really just would have been a gimmick. It’s more like the band really did just get together and experiment and come up with an alternate version of each song – and those versions work. They really, really work. They’re generally more stripped-down and even mellower than their original versions, but there isn’t a single one that’s bad.

The exception to the “doesn’t fall into one musical genre” rule is “Integral,” which is a re-recording of (duh) “Integral Birth.” This is, for all intents and purposes, an acoustic version of the song, stripped of death metal growls, vocoder effects, or most of the rest of the band; it’s Paul Masvidal, an acoustic guitar, his voice, a female vocalist to add some textures here and there, occasionally some tones which I imagine were made by a keyboard, and, at one point, a little bit of organ. It’s really, really, incredibly, mind-blowingly beautiful, and easily my favorite of the re-imaginings, even if it fits into a slightly neater box than the tracks that proceed it.

The sole new song on the EP, “Wheels Within Wheels,” closes out the proceedings, and – no shock – is excellent. If you’ve seen the band on tour at all these past few months, you’ve probably already heard them perform it live. It probably would fit right in on the original Traced in Air… not that that’s a bad thing.

I’m going to cop-out now and not give this release a horn rating; honestly, I’m not entirely sure what criteria I would use to do so. But I love it, and if you’re a Cynic fan, I imagine you will, too. It comes out May 17 on Candlelight. And that’s really all you need to know.


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