Focus — Focus 8
(Musea FGBG 4472.AR, 2002, CD)
by Jeff Melton, Published 2003-08-01
Leave it to Thijs Van Leer to recognize the timely need for Focus to return to active duty. Within the past three years he encountered a Focus tribute act in his Dutch homeland and was so impressed he decided to append himself onto their stage show. That in itself is a testament to their credibility. While sadly Jan Akkerman is not part of this line-up, clearly guitarist Jan Dumée handles the job quite well (and that’s saying a lot). His melodic leads are appropriately in the mode of his countryman without being derivative. Van Leer’s own chops are still intact as evidenced by his fine flute playing on Dumée’s piece, “Tamara’s Move.” This song and several others retain that key classical element of the original incarnation of the group. “Hurkey Turkey” is another in a series of goofily named tracks that show off the new members of the group; it’s a mid-tempo rocker with Van Leer’s scat vocal on display. In contrast “De Ti O De Mi” relies on a slow heavy groove and Dumée’s classy but emotive leads. “Neurotika” is the closest the new quartet comes to the frenzied attack that made the group internationally famous in 1972. Closing out the eleven pieces is “Flower Shower,” a quirky track as amusing for its sound effects as for Van Leer’s melodramatic voice-overs. Overall the album signals a return to form for a long lost musical personality that will quell concerns by older fans and find new ones as well.
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
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
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
Jazz Composer Mark Lomax, II Releases Epic 12CD Set – In addition to being a fine jazz drummer, Dr. Mark Lomax, II is a composer in residence at Ohio State University, where he has been very busy on the compositional front. The year 2019 is the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first ship bringing African slaves to North America, and in commemoration of this, Lomax has produced 400: An Afrikan Epic, a 12 volume set of CDs featuring a variety of different musical ensembles. » Read more