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Focus 8

Focus

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Album Review

Focus 8 is a fantastic record by Thijs van Leer, Jan Dumée, Bobby Jacobs, and Bert Smaak, the new-millennium version of the band Focus. The instrumentals show real spirit and creativity without the bombast of the 1973 opus "Hocus Pocus," which branded the group forever as "progressive rock." Yes, it is still arty King Crimson meets Jethro Tull stuff, the flute taking even more of the space than an Ian Anderson might grant it, but there is something about this album that takes hold and makes for a surprising listening experience. The quartet somehow keeps the ostentatious aspect of the genre down to a minimum and puts the emphasis on serious explorations of what it does best. For an hour's worth of mostly instrumental prowess, it is quite an achievement. Where Tull's A Passion Play was a tedious listen, every title here rings out with its own personality, "Hurkey Turkey" speaking in tongues as the keyboards/guitar/drums converge with the bass and some strange vocal improvisations. "Blizu Tebe" also has great merit, the album displaying a cohesion one expects from Phish and other jam bands, a format one doesn't consider when thinking of Focus. The result is a dreamy blend of majestic instrumental melodies, a really stunning achievement for an entity that has gone through so many evolutions. It may be just another day at the office for this group, but it is quite a day, and with sufficient exposure, Focus 8 could bring in an entirely new audience in for this veteran act. A really special release.

Customer Reviews

Breathtaking and Exhilarating

Focus has been around since the early '70's. With each release they have placed their personal signature on their particular hybrid of instrumental rock. Careening from gentle, peaceful passages to outright white-knuckle immersions into some of the smartest progressive rock passages ever listened to, Focus has never let their fans down. Both track 7 (Sto Ces Raditi Ostatac Zivota?) and track 10 (Blizu Tébe) are my favorites. With a smattering of ethereal (and sometimes weird) vocalizations and mad flute playing skills, original founder Thijs Van Leer has once again gathered some talented musicians to produce a work that satisfies on many fronts. Grab some bliss...

Biography

Formed: 1969 in Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '60s, '70s

Best remembered for their bizarre chart smash "Hocus Pocus," Dutch progressive rock band Focus was formed in Amsterdam in 1969 by vocalist/keyboardist/flutist Thijs van Leer, bassist Martin Dresden, and drummer Hans Cleuver. With the subsequent addition of guitarist Jan Akkerman, the group issued its debut LP, In and Out of Focus, in 1970, earning a European cult following thanks to the single "House of the King." Dresden and Cleuver were replaced by bassist Cyril Havermanns and drummer Pierre Van...
Full Bio
Focus 8, Focus
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