Focus - Focus X

Focus X
East World Recordings
After the band’s return in the 00s, Focus seem to be rather on the go and rejuvenated. Certainly, 6 years since the previous album is a long period but it’s better to be away for some time and come back with something strong, than release albums in a short time period and have nothing to offer eventually.
I must confess that I wanted to listen to the album badly, for I like the 70s Focus a lot but I was merely satisfied with their 00s works. In truth to be told, “Focus X” exceeded my expectations and was proven to be a wonderful yet complex but fairly melodic album. Assuredly, albums like this one are not easy-listening and need several spins to grow on you. In contrast, the blending of sweet melodies with the legendary flute, the nice piano themes, the jazz-fusion features along with the technical rhythm section and the killer guitar… will not leave any fan of this genre unsatisfied. The production is crystal clear and smooth… giving the appropriate musical depth for an album like this. The album was mixed by Bram Bol at B-spot Studio, produced by Bobby Jacobs and mastered by Andy Jackson at Tube Mastering. The re-make of “Le Tango”, from Jan Akkerman & Thijs Van Leer’s 1985 “Focus” album, is another example of how a song can be dissimilar but still tasteful even if you have changed its orchestration. Not to forget to mention that the beautiful fantasy cover artwork was designed by the renowned Roger Dean (Yes, Uriah Heep, Asia, Gentle Giant, Budgie, Babe Ruth etc.).
If you are wondering what’s all about here… the band did come up with what I can actually call their best work after their comeback in the 00s. A rather brave statement, you might think… but as long as it is true, then there’s no point in hiding the truth. The jazz-fusion elements are bountiful… while the guitars (rhythm & solo) are magnificent. The song arrangements are smart as always and the band has also delivered some truly amazing melodies in the album. Mostly instrumental, “Focus X” will give an extra push to the band so as to go on stronger in the next years. They’ve already announced a worldwide tour and they are not kidding at all. I’m just wondering, at times, if old big bands like Focus come up with such startling new albums, then they’ll definitely make things more difficult for the younger ones in every aspect.
Just when I have any second thoughts if 2012 is indeed a prog year… then at least a couple of albums come to put me in my place. I’m sure the prog fans will appreciate this splendid new effort from this great 70s prog band. Can “Focus X” be placed among the band’s 70s masterpieces…? Well, only time can tell… but do not be surprised if it does after some time…