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Here we are in 2019 with a new Focus album, with a Roger Dean cover, and although they were formed some fifty years ago the band is still showing no signs at all of slowing down. Led of course by the incomparable Thijs Van Leer on keyboards/flute/vocals (just one song has vocals, the rest are instrumental), the line-up also includes drummer Pierre van der Linden who made his first appearance with the band on ‘Moving Waves’ back in 1971, while guitarist Menno Gootjes has long been proving that he is perfectly capable of standing in Akkerman’s shoes and making them his own, with just Udo Pannekeet making his debut appearance on bass. I am sure every proghead has at least some Focus in their collection, but the last album I heard prior to this one was ‘8’, which was released back in 2002. That album definitely had some high points, but also some lows, but from the first song to the last this one really captured my attention. There are moment when all four musicians appear to be taking the lead, and there is some sumptuous fretless bass to be found, and ven der Linden sounds as if he should be in a jazz band as he pointedly refuses to follow any normal convention as he provides full and nuances at every opportunity without overcrowding the music. Although van Leer is often at the front, he can also be found providing support to Gootjes who has a wonderfully clean and clear sound as he noodles away in perfect harmony with everyone else. This album is a delight throughout, is the most consistent and downright enjoyable of theirs I have ever come across. Simply superb.
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