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Focus 8

Focus

℗ 2002 Musea Records FGBG 4472 AR

℗ 2002 Rock Symphony Records RSLN 100

Focus • 2002 • Focus 8

«Focus 8» is a fantastic record by Thijs van Leer, Jan Dumee, 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.

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