Exposé Online banner

Focus — Focus X
(FWUS043, 2013, CD)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2013-07-15

Focus X Cover art

Focus today, ten studio albums and 40+ years on from their 1970 debut, is still very much recognizable as the same band, due to the long term guidance and helmsmanship of keyboardist, flautist, and chief composer Thijs van Leer. He doesn’t sing as much anymore (guest singers join for the one main vocal track, and the spoken parts on the jazzy closer “Crossroads”) and absolutely no yodeling, but his writing is stronger than ever. On board is bassist Bobby Jacobs, who has been with the band for a good dozen years, also serving as producer; drummer Pierre van der Linden, who played with the band on their classic albums Moving Waves, Focus 3, and Live at the Rainbow has been back on board since their last album, New Skin. The newest member is hotshot guitarist Menno Gootjes, the latest in a long succession of carefully selected and versatile guitarists to fill the jazz and rock counterpoint to van Leer’s classicism and funkiness in their sound. The album kicks off with “Father Bacchus,” a seemingly obligatory Gootjes penned re-take on the basic “Hocus Pocus” sound, but from there the disc gets a lot more interesting. “Message Magique” written by Ben van der Linden is a positively beautiful and overtly melodic classical piece with an unforgettable melody. Van Leer’s funky flute work and vocalizing come to the fore on the rocker “All Hens on Deck.” “Amok in Kindergarten” is another standout, offering a warm and melodic rock bridge between jazz and classical worlds, with cooperative piano and guitar work that begs for repeat plays. There are many more excellent works herewithin, and this may well be Focus’ finest album since the band reformed in the mid-90s.


Filed under: New releases, 2013 releases

Related artist(s): Focus, Thijs van Leer

Latest news

2017-10-13
Moonjune to Distribute Tony Levin's Back Catalog – It has been announced that Moonjune will now handle distribution for Tony Levin's catalog of releases. These great albums will now be a bit easier to get hold of, so check out the site and see what you're missing. The veteran of King Crimson and Stick Men worked with a host of great players on these albums, and we've reviewed most of them over the course of the years. » Read more

2017-09-26
Bandcamp Shines Light on Niches We Like – Bandcamp has developed into one of the best places to discover new music, and even a lot of old music is showing up there. In addition, their staff has been producing periodic articles spotlighting some interesting stylistic areas. On 20 September, they published one called "The New Face of Prog Rock" which bears checking out. » Read more

2017-09-06
Holger Czukay RIP – Holger Czukay, a musical experimentalist without boundaries who has been involved with expanding the sound palette of rock music since the late 60s, has died at the age of 79. After studying with Karlheinz Stockhausen in the early 60s, he became fascinated with the possibilities of rock music, and was a co-founder of the pioneering group Can. He leaves behind an impressive body of work both as musician and producer. » Read more

2017-08-22
John Abercrombie RIP – Another of the greats of jazz guitar has left us. John Abercrombie plied his way through a beautiful series of albums on the ECM label as well as bringing his talent to bear on albums by many of jazz's greatest artists. From his early work in the group Dreams to Gateway and outstanding work with Billy Cobham, Jack DeJohnette, Kenny Wheeler, and many more to his own trios and quartets, he brought a unique instrumental voice to the world. » Read more

2017-07-27
Yestival Dates Beef up the Beat – Word reaches us that Dylan Howe (son of guitarist Steve Howe) will be joining Yes on their "Yestival" tour, drumming alongside longtime band member Alan White. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

You Are Here - You Are Here – You Are Here are a new band out of Toronto with this eponymous EP as their debut. First off, I should point out that while a keyboard player is present, this quintet have a much newer and younger...  (1998) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues