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 By 1995 Smaak had left and been replaced by Pierre van der Linden, who had played with the band from their second album onward, which brings us to the genesis of the album at hand.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

2019-04-10
The Pineapple Thief to Tour North America – November and December of 2019 will see The Pineapple Thief bringing their music to Canada, Mexico, and the US, and famed drummer Gavin Harrison will be on board. The band has been touring extensively in Europe, but North America will be new territory for them. » Read more

2019-03-25
Scott Walker RIP – Noel Scott Engel, better known as Scott Walker, was one of the most intriguing and enigmatic musical figures in the second half of the 20th Century. His strange career started with The Walker Brothers, an American pop group that featured no one named Walker and no brothers. After moving to England in 1965, they had a series of hit singles. Scott's solo work started with Scott in 1967. Starting in the 80s, his work took an increasingly avant-garde turn. » Read more

2019-03-20
Freedom to Spend Unearths June Chikuma's Archives – Jun (June) Chikuma is well known for her video game and anime soundtracks, but she also released an album of experimental electronic music back in 1986 called Divertimento where she indulged the kind of spontaneity that wouldn't work in a soundtrack. RVNG Int'l label Freedom to Spend is bringing this overlooked item to broader attention with a deluxe reissue. » Read more

2019-03-03
Seaprog 2019 Lineup Almost Complete – The Seaprog festival in Seattle is scheduled for June 7-9 this year, and they've announced their lineup of performers. The revitalized Trettioåriga Kriget will cap Friday night, perennial favorites Marbin are on Saturday, and District 97 will finish off the fest on Sunday night. In support, they've booked a stellar variety of artists from the Northwest and around the world, including EchoTest, Markus Reuter and Trey Gunn, and the live debut of the amazing Troot project. » Read more

2019-02-21
You Can Be Part of an Ambient Electronic Project – The Gesture of History is a new electronic project put together by Sam Rosenthal of Black Tape for a Blue Girl, Steve Roach, and violist Sam Shadow. The music started as an instrumental track Rosenthal was working on for a Black Tape album, but took on a life of its own and demanded further enhancements. The majority of the funds raised will go to manufacturing costs for LP and CD editions, as well as other items as detailed on the Kickstarter page. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Five Fifteen - Alcohol – Has it really been eight years since Six Dimensions of the Electric Camembert? That was the last full album by this Finnish hard rock band this writer heard, more or less corresponding to their switch...  (2008) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues