Out Of Focus - Rat Roads

Year of Release: 2002
Label: Garden Of Delights
Catalog Number: CD 064
Format: CD
Total Time: 48:26:00

In the summer of 1972 this already respected German jazz-rock band, Out Of Focus, given free reign by their label (Kuckuck Records, owned by Eckart Rahn), recorded enough material fill not one, not two, but three (maybe even four) vinyl discs of music. This being 1972, of course, the greater capacity of a CD was not in the cards, and so the volume of music had to be trimmed to fit onto two records, resulting in their third album Four Letter Monday Afternoon, an album that is considered by many to be their best work. Though not directly due to the advent of the CD, in 2002, German reissue label Garden Of Delights released Rat Roads, a collection of material that was not included in the previous 2-LP set. As Greg Northrup notes in his review at The Giant Progweed (www.progweed.net), this material wasn't left off due to quality, but due to space. This is backed up, of course, by a similar statement in the liner notes, detailed as usual for a GoD release - well, GoD is reportedly all-knowing, yes?

Blasphemy aside, this is a wonderful collection of music, mostly instrumental and jazzy, but a there are few vocal pieces. Right from the outset, with "I'd Like To Be Free," you know you're in for something quite different from the German psych and heavy rock that GoD has been releasing. Out Of Focus shine instrumentally, creating complex and compositionally satisfying music, though the vocals on this track may or may not work for everyone, as vocalist Moran has a tight and pinched voice that will make folks think at times of a young, and accented, Bob Dylan (later, it is of a singer of a different sort). This piece in particular mixes the warm brassy tones of tenor sax (Moran as well), baritone sax (Ingo Schmid-Neuhaus), trombone (Hermann Breuer), and trumpet (Jimmy Polvika) with some great sounding Hammond (Hennes Hering), electric piano (Hering), and percussion (Klaus Spöri) that includes bongos (Grand Roman Langhans) for a fine opening. The whole brass element was a departure for the band from their previous releases, and one that so angered Rahn, that it signaled the end of their association with his label, and essentially their career as a band.

The core of the group were Stephan Wieschau on bass, Hering, Moran, Spöri, and Remigius Drechsler on guitar, with numerous guests in addition to the already mentioned Schmid-Neuhaus and Langhans, they being Peter Dechant on acoustic guitar and Michael Thatcher on Hammond for a pair of tracks. After the release of Four Letter Monday Afternoon, Drechsler joined Embryo, and later released Kontrast on his own label with Schmid-Neuhaus (who later committed suicide) and Moran.

"Table Talk" and "Climax" are the longest pieces, each exceeding 12 minutes (though the former just barely), the remainder falling everywhere between 31 seconds to 7-plus minutes. "Table Talk" does take a while to get going, sounding at first like a bit warming up and coalescing into noodling jam, including some squeaky, honking, experimental parts at about the 7-8 minute mark. Actually, given the title, it is like you've dropped in on a table full of conversations, and trying to follow any one of them makes you glad it was all recorded so you can rewind and follow a different thread? this flurry calms down a minute or so later, following just one "conversation" 'til the conclusion. "Climax" is a darker piece, a little more moody, brass as ever up front, a swirl of organ and bass percolating just beneath.

"Rat Roads," is also dark and moody, the trumpet immediately recalling Miles Davis, at least in tone. "Straight Ahead" is just that, straight ahead jazz of the traditional variety, Polivka's trumpet right out front, Spöri's drums and Wiesheu's bass right behind. "Tell Me What I'm Thinking Of" is another vocal track, that sounds vaguely like early Yes, mainly due to Moran's delivery of the chorus which is up in that Anderson range, but also to the smooth, almost dreamy, delivery of that same chorus. Here Drechler's guitar and Hering's organ take the leads, but brass is never far behind. It's a better than average track, but is bettered by the other material on the disc.

Released as an LP by Tripkick (006) as well

I'd Like To Be Free (7:15) / Table Talk (12:03) / Rat Roads (5:16) / Fallen Apples (2:18) / Straight Ahead (4:39) / Tell Me What I'm Thinking Of (3:58) / Climax (12:47) / Kitchen Blues (0:31) / Good-bye Honey (0:59)

Remigius Drechsler - electric guitar (1-7, 9)
Hennes Haring - Hammond organ & electric piano (1, 6)
Moran - vocals (1, 6), soprano (2) and tenor sax (1-3, 6-8), flute (2)
Stephan Wiesheu - bass guitar (1-3, 5-7, 9)
Klaus Sp&oum;ri - drums (1-3, 5-7, 9)
Ingo Schmid-Neuhaus - baritone sax (1-4, 7)
Peter Dechant - acoustic guitar (2, 3, 5, 7)
Hermann Breuer - trombone (1, 2, 7), Hammond organ (3)
Jimmy Polivka - trumpet (1-3, 5, 7)
Michael Thatcher - Hammond organ (2, 5)
Grand Roman Langhans - bongos (1)

Wake Up! (1970)
Out Of Focus (1971)
Four Letter Monday Afternoon (1972)
Not Too Late (1999/2000)
Rat Roads (1999/2002)
Palermo 1972 (2008)

Genre: Fusion-Jazz Fusion

Origin DE

Added: August 10th 2003
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 605
Language: english


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