The Dutch band Focus started way back in 1969 and was founded by singer-organist-flutist Thijs van Leer. Beside Van Leer, the world-famous guitarist Jan Akkerman was one of the members.With their unique progressive rock they manifested themselves at the start of the seventies as the most successful and the most appreciated of all Dutch progressive rock exports.
Focus scored a couple of instrumentals hits like Hocus Pocus, House Of The King and Sylvia, and they recorded classic prog albums like Moving Waves (1971, also known as Focus II), Focus 3 (1973) and Hamburger Concerto (1974). In 1976, Akkerman left the band on the eve of a sold-out British tour. He was frustrated with the group's lack of direction, the constraints of working with its commercial ambitions and the yodeling of Van Leer during live performances...
After initial comebacks which resulted in the well-received album 8 (2001) and 9 / New Skin (2006), Focus now recorded their first new album in six years aptly called X. The original drummer Pierre van der Linden returned with the New Skin album, and together with Van Leer, guitarist Menno Gootjes and basist Bobby Jacobs this resulted in a mighty fine line-up.
The new album has been packed in a cover made by the famous designer Roger Dean of Yes-fame and contains 51 minutes of chaotic but all the same atmospheric prog rock and avant garde at its best. From flute jazz-metal to organ ballads: the latest record in the Focus catalogue is a very good one. “Our music is evolution, not revolution”, Thijs van Leer once said. X doesn't bring anything new or innovative, but if you enjoy bands with a firm grip on endeavours of a more retrospective nature then this album is a must have!
**** Gert Bruins (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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