Saturday, 5 March 2011

Out Of Focus - Rat Roads (2002)

This album is actually the remaining numbers from the recording sessions of their third album Four Letter Monday Afternoon. As that album was already a double vinyl - there was enough material to have made it a triple - and this is not really the bottom of the drawer stuff either as one could fear, but the tapes remained untouched for decades. Funnily, this album is their second posthumous release (although Never Too Late was indeed meant to be released back in the days, where this one was not, but it was recorded before NTL) is it is yet another step towards their jazz-fusion trek. But the group was still officially a quintet, not having absorbed Ingo Schmid and Peter Dechant as full members. Behind another spooky artwork (again from Drechsler's now ex-wife), hides another amazing OOF album that deserves your full attention.

If I call these tracks "leftovers", believe me, it is just an expression because there is absolutely nothing that they would envy to any of their other albums. Indeed, I'D Like To Be Free and the 12-mins Table Talk starts this compilation in excellent fashion, especially with Herring's superb organ work on the later, even if the jamming takes us back to FLMA. The self-tiled track is a bit long in evolving and the first part seems a bit muffled, but once the group liberates itself in the finale, all hell breaks loose. Fallen Apples is a superb and reflective slow guitar piece, with with Ingo's baritone sax answering it.

Straight Ahead is an organ-driven boogie (Herring plus Tatcher on this one) with a superb trumpet solo from guest Povlika. Moran sings only on two tracks and to be truthful his voice is now anything but irritating (to those that ever thought it) and the group plays ever more tightly because of it. The 12-min+ Climax is their peak and could have been easily fitted on a side of Four Letter if their Hunchen 55 had been shortened by half (this number did add up to 48 min and it was.....tooo long). Climax starts fantastically slow and slowly rises to greatness through a series of fun brass interventions, including a superb trombone section. The last two short titbits so the compilation absolutely no favour, and as a matter of fact pretty well ruin a bit yet another superb OOF disc.

Musically this is right up with the rest of the session, so if you appreciated Four Letter, this one should pass as another letter in the mail (easy, I meant). It does have that unfinished touch to it, though. I was mentally torn apart because of the ratings system: my heart giving it high marks because I love the band and the music developed and the signification of the star rating system: this excellent and essential if you are a fan. But in a way, this is for fans only...... So between a 4 or 5 on one side and a 2 on the other side (rating system) so my brains let my mind win. OUT OF FOCUS Rat Roads music reviews and MP3 (review from

Songs / Tracks Listing 1. I'd like to be free (7:15)
2. Table talk (12:03)
3. Rat roads (5:16)
4. Fallen apples (2:18)
5. Straight ahead (4:39)
6. Tell me what I'm thinking of (3:58)
7. Climax (12:47)
8. Kitchen blues (0:59)
9. Good-bue honey (0:31)

Total Time: 50:57

Line-up / Musicians - Peter Dechant / guitar
- Remingius Dreschler / guitar
- Hennes Hering / keyboards
- Moran Neumüller / vocals, sax, flute
- Ingo Schmid-Neuhaus / saxophone
- Klaus Spöri / drums
- Stephan Wiescheu / bass

+ Hermann Breuer / trombone, keyboards
- Grand Roman Langhans / percussion
- Jimmy Polivka / trumpet
- Michael Thatcher / keyboards

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