Saturday, March 19, 2011

Review: Out Of Focus - Wake Up (1970 Kuckuck, 2004 Second Life)

A lame review of mine from 2006 when I just started out.
However, since I like this album a lot, I hope that even this poorly written review will be enough to convey this and make you check it out. I've grown to like this album (and their two others) much more since I wrote it, so when reading this, add more enthusiasm into it :-)
Last week I bought the 2004 digitally remastered edition of this Out Of Focus album, re-issued by Second Life Records. The original version was released by Kuckuck Records in 1970.

The music is a blend of classic 60's rock, a bit of psychedelic characteristics, some hard rock touches and folk rock (mainly due to the flute part). The musicians play fairly good, but nothing too extraordinary, leaving the music itself to speak for them. The flute, guitar riffs and the Hammond organ are, to me, the highlight in this record. Oh, and the song titles are amusing as well.

The album begins with a cool guitar riff that is immediately joined by drums and hammond organ that starts playing at first dissonant chords and then goes back "on track". A nice flute part is added and the guitar goes on with its riffs giving the track its main force. The hammond part is brought forth in this edition and you can appreciate it very well. At about ~2 min. Neumüller sings a few lines and draws back to give back the stage to the instruments. I love the crunchy sounding guitar here and the Hammond as well. This is an excellent song, giving all the instruments the chance to "express" themselves, without ever being dragged into pointless jamming around. The second song is a little more laid back with a more vocals in it. This is more of a "regular" song like track, with a middle part in which the flute gives a nice solo part. It is a laid back middle section, giving the flute place to breathe but I think it is not fulfilled as it should have been. "Hey John" starts calmly with the flute leading and a beautiful rhythm part accompanying it. The song moves between the vocals part singing with the instruments toning down and then switching to the flute which takes the lead accompanied by all the band members on their instruments. The music is beautiful in this one. Too bad the accompanying hammond isn't as loud in this track. It is only clearly heard when it takes the lead role at ~5:30 min. This song is perhaps not very original in its structure and musical ideas, but it is nonetheless very good. "No Name" has a silly like attitude. But the music is entertaining as are the vocals and lyrics and it is lighter in spirit than the rest of the album. World's End is a nice song that reminds me a bit of Doors' songs like The End or When The Music's over in terms of the concept of the song, not because it resembles the music itself. There is repeating musical line and the constant instruments playing around it, changing from loudly to softly playing. "Dark, Darker" is more psychedelic in nature with some great flute playing. The flute goes berserk here a bit.

It is a shame this band is not more known, since I think they do not fall short of other bands in the same ballpark and they released 4 good solid albums. For people who love the 60's rock sound, who love good songs that incorporate flute, hammond and squeaking guitars – this album is a very good choice. A good addition to any prog/psychedelic rock music collection; perhaps not essential, but I enjoy the hell out of this.

Also check out their two other albums, the s/t from 1971 and the fantastic Four Letter Monday Afternoon from 1972.

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