Exposé Online banner

Focus and Friends — Focus 8.5 / Beyond the Horizon
( IF003CD, 2005/2016, CD)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2016-08-14

Focus 8.5 / Beyond the Horizon Cover art

It was in August 1997 that we learned about the reunion of Focus, with original members Thijs van Leer and Hans Cleuver, and bassist Bert Ruiter who played with them from Focus 3 onward, plus new guitarist Menno Gootjes. It was the first time the band had played together since calling it quits in the late 70s after the poorly received Focus con Proby album. By 2002 the band, now with van Leer and some new members (bassist Bobby Jakobs, guitarist Jan Dumée, and drummer Bert Smaak) had released their first new album Focus 8, featuring new material, and touring followed for several years. By 1995 Smaak had left and been replaced by Pierre van der Linden, who had played with the band from their second album onward, which brings us to the genesis of the album at hand. The sessions for Focus 8.5 / Beyond the Horizon were recorded inbetween live dates on the band’s South American tour. It started out as a jam in Niteroi with local musicians Marvio Ciribelli and Marcio Bahia, and ended up in Rio de Janeiro for recording sessions that ended up involving a dozen or more additional musicians and vocalists. From the very first moments of “Focus Zero,” one will know this is Focus, but with a new twist that reflects the involvement of additional musicians (in this case Marvio Cirabelli on second piano, Sergio Chiavazzoli on guitars, and Arthur Maia on bass) and takes on a more jazzy feel that freshens up the band’s sound. On most of the tracks here, van der Linden is double drumming with Marcio Bahia, giving the tunes a far more percussive feel, along with percussionists Flavio Santos and Amaro Junior (all four shine in the seven-plus minute “Millenium”). The drummers get their time in the spotlight on “Talking Rhythms,” which begins as a solo piece for double drums and eventually morphs into vocalizations by the two drummers. Amazing. “Hola, Cómo Estás” introduces singer Marcio Lott as well as female vocalists Mylena Cribelli and Thais Motta who feature on a number of the albums other cuts. “Rock 5” is hardly rock at all, but more an expanded jazzy piece written by Marvio Ciribelli with only bassist Jakobs from the regular Focus lineup involved, plus a number of additional instrumentalists and vocalists, but man, is this molodic tune ever so sweet and unforgettable. All taken, this is a very surprising expansion of the Focus sound, and will be of interest to all fans of the band.


Filed under: New releases, 2016 releases, 2005 recordings

Related artist(s): Focus, Thijs van Leer

Latest news

2018-07-31
Tomasz Stańko RIP – Tomasz Stańko, one of the greats of Eastern European jazz, has died at the age of 76. Stańko's career started in Krzysztof Komeda's quintet, where he contributed trumpet from 1963-1967, when he formed his own group. He worked extensively with Edward Vesala, Don Cherry, Zbigniew Seifert, Chico Freeman, Howard Johnson, Cecil Taylor, and many others. Many of his recordings have been released by ECM, an association that began in the mid-70s. » Read more

2018-07-09
Soft Machine Set to Release New Music – It's been 50 years since The Soft Machine changed the face of music with their first album. Their blend of psychedelic rock and jazz was unique, and while the band went through many changes before disbanding in 1981 — by which time there were no original members remaining — they remained an innovative force with a style all their own. » Read more

2018-07-01
7d Surfaces Happy Rhodes Back Catalog – We've covered singer Happy Rhodes before, both for her solo work and recently with The Security Project, but her 11 albums have been hard to track down. Until now. 7d features high-quality downloads of all her releases, and several of them are also available on CD. » Read more

2018-06-25
Fred Chalenor RIP – We have news of another sad passing in the world of creative music. Bassist Fred Chalenor, whose creativity featured on albums by Tone Dogs, Caveman Shoestore, and many more, died on June 23, 2018 after a long battle with Alzheimer's. Tributes have poured in from the many musicians and fans whose lives he touched. » Read more

2018-06-13
Jon Hiseman RIP – One of the great drummers of the rock era has died. Jon Hiseman was a veteran of such ground-breaking groups as Colosseum (I and II), Tempest, John Mayal's Bleusbreakers, and was a founding member of the innovative large band United Jazz + Rock Ensemble. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Fifty Foot Hose - Cauldron – Here's another one of those "I never thought they'd release that on CD" reissues. San Francisco's late 60s legacy left behind a volume of obscure bands, many with some really...  (1995) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues