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Out Of Focus - Wake Up! CD (album) cover

WAKE UP!

Out Of Focus

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.53 | 68 ratings

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Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
4 stars 4.5 stars really.

If you ever read Asbjornssen's Cosmic Dreams at Play, you will know how high esteem he holds this band. His article finishes this way: WHAT AN AWESOME GROUP THEY WERE! I cannot say it any better as the three albums they made in their prime were all drastically different from each other yet so unmistakably OOF (much like Floyd did all of their albums so different, yet all so FLOYD). Their music is absolutely theirs and sound like nothing else and although they are Germans, I hesitate to call it Krautrock or as some call it Krautjazz. They develop a strange mix of psyched-out rock with a good sense of jazz rock (although not quite as much in this debut album), add a good dose of flute/sax dominated prog rock and give themselves a maximum space for instrumental interplay even if Moran's voice holds an important role (and is an acquired taste in the same way that Peter Hammill or Roger Chapman are an acquired taste) with some non-sensical lyrics laying out their hippy ideals. With an abstract artwork this debut album (released on the legendary Kuckuck label) is aptly named Wake Up, even if the goal is to send you into dreamy trip, the music is raw, just the way the Germans liked it, reminiscent of their crosstown colleagues of Amon Duul II.

Right from the first repetitive note of Drechsler's guitar, soon underlined by Herring's organ and Moran Neumuller's flute, in the opening White Negro, you just know you're flying in a wonderful universe where time seems to be a very random dimension and the dreamy soundscapes are an invitation to tripping around the universe. The tougher-sounding God Save The Queen is more of rougher guitar-lead early 70's UK proto-prog ala EBB or BechKendel, but the middle section (recorded a bit too low) shared between the folky flute and the organ is a great counter-point using the full dynamics contrasting with the return of the opening section. Hey John is an almost 10-min wild flute-lead jam that can sound like Deep Purple's Mandrake Root in the middle.

The flipside jumps at your throat with the short but powerful No Name track that could easily be called You're Wasting Time, and even if there are obvious flaws in recording levels, this track is most likely to also claim the album's title, Wake Up! World's end is a fairly doomy track that still trails a bit of 60's into it, sometimes reminding of Floyd (Herring's organ and Spori's drumming sound like early Floyd circa Saucerful Of Secrets), while Moran's flute is more reminiscent of Traffic's Chris Wood and the guitar reminding us a bit of Krieger in The Doors' epic track The End. Ending the album is the lengthy Dark Darker track, which is a bit disjointed in its psyched-out moods especially Moran's flute racing up and down the ladder of sanity. This is one track where the group shows an excellent aptitude at light improvisation that lead to wild jamming, a thing that we would see much more of in the next three albums. Again the raw sound gives the impression that this record could've easily been recorded live in the Anglo-Saxon world, with only the approximate accent of Moran giving a hint otherwise. The closing section is a hard-driving Atomic Rooster-like heavy prog.

As with most German band singing in English, the vocals are not perfect but this is very minor as the texts (lyrics) are easily understood and are of a very social/political nature that they could also be classified in German only category Polit-rock (never thought you'd read about such a category, Uh? ;-) This IMHO only adds to the quality of the music and does not make it dated just for that reason. Technically absolutely brilliant (D-E A + HCH). Just by the weird song titles, one can see that this band is heavy, I mean HHHEEEAAAVVVYYY , man !!

Sean Trane | 4/5 |

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