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Out Of Focus - Four Letter Monday Afternoon CD (album) cover


Out Of Focus


Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.00 | 101 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

5 stars This, the third and final Out Of Focus album, finds the German collective at their very best. It completes their shift away from psychedelic rock into more jazz/free form oriented material and sees the original band expanded here to an astonishing 11 piece force to be reckoned with. A major change to the band's sound is the addition of a brass section which really bolsters the sound into a bright, rich and varied feast for the ears.

On LP it was a double album running over some 94 minutes, and is reissued here by Esoteric's Reactive imprint as a double CD. The original concept is preserved, and the first CD consists of the album `proper'. More interesting though, is the 3 part rolling improvisation `Huchen 55' which occupies the entire 48 minutes of CD2.

Based in Munich, Out Of Focus were a lesser known name in Krautrock circles, but their work stands up extremely well to modern ears. From psychedelic beginnings they end up here as a band determined to explore the furthest reaches of their music. The addition of a multitude of extra players brings to mind at times the original Keith Tippett Group and their subsequent contribution to a short-lived expanded Soft Machine, and whilst it's fair to say that the Softs influence is felt here, these musicians are accomplished enough to over-ride any direct comparisons and to tread their own path.

The original first LP begins with the 18 minute `L.S.B.' which moves through a variety of well constructed changes without ever getting boring, the added instrumentation making a welcome improvement to the Out Of Focus sound. `When I'm Sleeping' somehow manages vocally to conjure up images of Peter Banks era Yes, although the vocal sweetness on display here is rather an exception to the rule. `Tsajama' for example, suffers rather badly from some ill-advised scat vocals, there won't be too many people buying this album for the singing, which like previous OOF albums is somewhat secondary to the music. It's really all about the instrumental interplay, and the rolling, evolving compositions which have never sounded better than here.

The second disc `Huchen 55' is one extended piece which most fully realises the vision. The three sections are woven together and bookended by a recurring thread played on flutes and ushering in open-ended group performances which sound like they come from a jam session which is quite possibly still going on to this day. It probably reflects most what the band was like live with no time restrictions. What is very appealing about it, is that it moves and transforms magically through various satisfying musical evolutions without ever losing momentum or becoming dull. I am reminded of Xhol Caravan's epic work here, music which was elusive, sublime, yet immensely satisfying. It is this disc to which I am likely to return time and time again and I urge you to do so too.

Out Of Focus recorded more material at these sessions much of which was subsequently issued and was found to be of a very high standard too. This however completes the sequence of the three albums issued in the band's existence, and which are all newly reissued by Reactive. For many is their finest hour. `Huchen 55' is one of those pieces you can have on repeat all day as it melts into the room, and for this alone it is unreservedly recommended.

beebfader | 5/5 |


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