Aptly titled Traces, Ping Trace’s debut EP certainly has slivers of brilliance, mixing the chill techno vibes from Zero 7 and Thievery Corporation with the jazzy, lounge vibe of the late Nina Simone.
Ping Trace is the collaboration between the self-described techno “visionary” Sven and vocalist Lynnae Rome. On the opener “At Ease,” Sven wastes no time showing off his turntables skills, but his synthesizer conga beats cheapen the song’s authenticity. His beats are again suspect on “Solace,” due to an over reliance on a digital handclap, which sound way too robotic, especially when juxtaposed with Rome’s very human, very soulful vocals.
“Illumination” sounds like a track from A Tribe Called Quest’s groundbreaking 1991 album The Low End Theory, except instead of merging hip-hop beats with jazzy keys and potent lyrics, Sven once again keeps Rome silent. Where’s Fife Dog and Q-Tip when you need them?
Rome–a newcomer to the electronica genre–sounds trapped. Blessed with a perfect voice for a jazz lounge singer, she is certainly out of place on this record, limited to periodic refrains and boring choruses. Only on the second half of the EP, specifically on “One More” and “Fall Away,” does Sven give her the spotlight and keep his production simple. He wisely ignores his turntable, sticks to kick, hat and snare loops and lets Rome’s sexy vocals slide gently over his smooth keyboard licks. For all the tools at his disposal, Sven’s greatest weapon is Lynnae Rome, and he barely uses her.
For their genre, Ping Trace can certainly hold their own. Songs from the Traces EP have been picking up steam in Europe, and they have enough beats, hooks and easy vibes to get some play in chill-out lounges in any disco. However, Ping Trace is unlikely to win over the techno listener who wants more electricity in their electronica.
Words By: Bill Reese[Rating: 2.5/5]