Out Of Focus – “See How A White Negro Flies” Video on YouTube
Out Of Focus – “Wake Up” Album Playlist on Spotify
Category/Music Genres :
Fusion/Jazz Rock/Krautrock/Progressive/Psychedelic Rock Germany 1970s (Tracks)
Band / Country of Origin :
Out Of Focus (Munich, Germany)
“See How A White Negro Flies” (written by Out Of Focus), A1 track (opening track) included on the album “Wake Up”
Released on Kuckuck Records ( 2375 006) in 1971, recorded in Union-Studio München, 27 to 31 October and 5 to 7 December 1970.
Remigius Drechsler / guitar
Hennes Hering / keyboards
Moran Neumüller / vocals, saxes
Klaus Spöri / drums
Stefan Wisheu / bass
Recorded At – Union Studios, Munich
Printed By – Gerhard Kaiser GmbH
Manufactured By – Deutsche Grammophon
Composed By, Arranged By – Out Of Focus
Design [Cover] – Concept Data
Engineer – Mack (2), Thomas Klemt
Illustration – Ch. Ruthenberg
Photography By – Matthias Porst
Producer – Jonas Porst
1. See how a white negro flies (5:48)
2. God saved the queen, cried Jesus (7:28)
3. Hey John (9:35)
4. No name (3:06)
5. World’s end (9:55)
6. Dark, darker (11:37)
Information about the album/band/track :
Wake Up! was originally recorded and released in 1970 by a band that seemingly lacked the wherewithal to manage such a thing. A practised and experienced live outfit that had made a name for itself in and around Munich, the members of Out Of Focus hit the studio for the first time having procured label support from Eckart Rahn’s Kuckuck which had established itself the year before. However, the band was usually stoned and their live set featured prolonged jams that could see them playing for 3 hours. The discipline and rigour of the studio presented a challenge to the band who had to be made aware of the need for accuracy, tuning and brevity. “It took them a bit of adjustment,” remembers Rahn.
Nevertheless, there was a genuine desire to allow the band their artistic freedom and capture something of the socially conscious, psychedelic, and slightly surreal live experience that had made them a popular act in the first place. So they had two long weekends to track the album and, on listening to it, it has that cohesive, driven quality that often comes from the exquisite pressure of time.
Opening with See How A White Negro Flies, we get an immediate sense of the musical direction this album is going to take. A heavy, plodding, psychedelic groove supported by a spectacular ‘walking’ bass motif combines tightly with Klaus Spφri’s energetic and busy drumming while Remigius Drechsler pulls off a riff that would turn Ennio Morricone green. Drechsler’s guitar work is a highlight of the album and the band’s overall sound. He combines spastic thrashing rhythm work with electrifying, fuzzed and distorted lead work as well as dealing in clean picked box-riffs and gently strummed atmospherics. You get a real sense of this range in God Save The Queen Cried Jesus which cycles through vivid shades and phases led as much by Moran Neumόller’s wonderfully dynamic flute work as his off-the-wall, impassioned and theatrical vocal delivery. Neumόller’s declamatory squawking is something of an acquired taste however, often sounding too much like a hangover from ‘60s American protest music, although occasionally, he sounds passingly like Jim Morrison.
Hey John is an extended jam on a rising and descending chord pattern held dramatically and melodically in tow by Neumόller’s flute. Again Spφri’s athletic drumming is powerfully supported at every turn with fluid and intuitive bass runs while Hennes Hering (organs, piano) and Neumόller interject lengthy improvisational solos over the shifting weight and changing light of the band’s delicately calculated soft/loud dynamic. No Name has a similar feel in its brief, shouty moment and is perhaps remarkable in that it predates by some 7 or 8 years the raucous, New Wave aggro of early Ian Dury And The Blockheads.
Out Of Focus’ strength lies firmly in their instrumental endeavours. With the two closing tracks being longer than ten minutes each, there’s plenty of scope for the improvisatory excursions that have served them well throughout the album. There’s little development of the formula, just energetic, occasionally frenetic shaping of the dynamics. It’s raw and vivid, but I’m not getting much out of it by the end, just roach burn.
This is a fairly convincing debut that mashes several strands of the underground scene from the late ‘60s into a blend of Traffic, The Doors, early (Saucerful Of Secrets) Floyd with the hard rock of The Edgar Broughton Band and Atomic Rooster. Having said that, Out Of Focus are resolutely their own band with their own sound and their own take on the underground music scene of their day. It has an immediate appeal, made all the more attractive by Ben Wiseman’s excellent remaster.
Out of Focus was one of the many creative groups that arose from Germany in the early ’70s. Its inventive take on fusion laid the groundwork for their three LPs released a year apart from each other. The first record was excellent and each successive album got even better. Out of Focus began in Munich, Germany, in late 1968 with Drechsler, Hering, Neumuller, Spori, and Wisheu. Very much a product of those times, the group combined jazz, folk, blues, psychedelic, and progressive rock, as well as political and social awareness as often exemplified by Neumuller’s lyrics. They quickly developed their style and from 1969 onward, they toured constantly, gigging all over Germany and opening for Amon Düül II, Nektar, Ginger Baker, Kraan, Kraftwerk, and Embryo, among others. By mid-1970, the Kuckuck label signed them. After several months in their practice room to work on their chops, they recorded material between October and December and by the end of the year, their debut, Wake Up, was released. In June 1971, the group recorded a second album for Kuckuck that came out later that year. This eponymous second album contained less rock riffing as the band branched further into jazz, improvisation, and experimentation. Out of Focus went back into the studio in the summer of 1972 to record Four Letter Monday Afternoon, an even more experimental double album with much longer tracks, including the 50-minute “Huchen-55,” which took up the entire second record. The group on this record was expanded to an 11-piece with the temporary addition of Dechant, Schmid-Neuhaus, Polivka, Breuer, Thatcher, and Langhans. Kuckuck pressured the group for a hit single. Both the unruly behavior of the group and the dislike the owner of Kuckuck had toward Four Letter caused Out of Focus to be dropped by the label soon after that record came out. At the beginning of 1973, the group and their wives moved 30 miles out of Munich to the countryside. By now, Hering had left the group and Schmid-Neuhaus and new member Gohringer had joined. Without a new label, they began pre-production work on a fourth album between March and May 1974, but these recordings were not released until much later, on the album Not Too Late. By 1975, the group started to fall apart as the various musicians drifted away. By the time they performed at the 1978 Unsont & Draussen festival, Drechsler was the only remaining original member and their music was far more straight-ahead jazz. A year later, Drechsler joined Embryo and Out of Focus disbanded.
Review by Sean Trane, progarchives.com
If you ever read Asbjornssen’s Cosmic Dreams at Play, you will know how high esteem he holds this band. His article finishes this way: WHAT AN AWESOME GROUP THEY WERE! I cannot say it any better as the three albums they made in their prime were all drastically different from each other yet so unmistakably OOF (much like Floyd did all of their albums so different, yet all so FLOYD). Their music is absolutely theirs and sound like nothing else and although they are Germans, I hesitate to call it Krautrock or as some call it Krautjazz.
They develop a strange mix of psyched-out rock with a good sense of jazz rock (although not quite as much in this debut album), add a good dose of flute/sax dominated prog rock and give themselves a maximum space for instrumental interplay even if Moran’s voice holds an important role (and is an acquired taste in the same way that Peter Hammill or Roger Chapman are an acquired taste) with some non-sensical lyrics laying out their hippy ideals. With an abstract artwork this debut album (released on the legendary Kuckuck label) is aptly named Wake Up, even if the goal is to send you into dreamy trip, the music is raw, just the way the Germans liked it, reminiscent of their crosstown colleagues of Amon Duul II.
Right from the first repetitive note of Drechsler’s guitar, soon underlined by Herring’s organ and Moran Neumuller’s flute, in the opening White Negro, you just know you’re flying in a wonderful universe where time seems to be a very random dimension and the dreamy soundscapes are an invitation to tripping around the universe. The tougher-sounding God Save The Queen is more of rougher guitar-lead early 70’s UK proto-prog ala EBB or BechKendel, but the middle section (recorded a bit too low) shared between the folky flute and the organ is a great counter-point using the full dynamics contrasting with the return of the opening section. Hey John is an almost 10-min wild flute-lead jam that can sound like Deep Purple’s Mandrake Root in the middle.
The flipside jumps at your throat with the short but powerful No Name track that could easily be called You’re Wasting Time, and even if there are obvious flaws in recording levels, this track is most likely to also claim the album’s title, Wake Up! World’s end is a fairly doomy track that still trails a bit of 60’s into it, sometimes reminding of Floyd (Herring’s organ and Spori’s drumming sound like early Floyd circa Saucerful Of Secrets), while Moran’s flute is more reminiscent of Traffic’s Chris Wood and the guitar reminding us a bit of Krieger in The Doors’ epic track The End. Ending the album is the lengthy Dark Darker track, which is a bit disjointed in its psyched-out moods especially Moran’s flute racing up and down the ladder of sanity. This is one track where the group shows an excellent aptitude at light improvisation that lead to wild jamming, a thing that we would see much more of in the next three albums. Again the raw sound gives the impression that this record could’ve easily been recorded live in the Anglo-Saxon world, with only the approximate accent of Moran giving a hint otherwise. The closing section is a hard-driving Atomic Rooster-like heavy prog.
As with most German band singing in English, the vocals are not perfect but this is very minor as the texts (lyrics) are easily understood and are of a very social/political nature that they could also be classified in German only category Polit-rock (never thought you’d read about such a category, Uh? 😉 This IMHO only adds to the quality of the music and does not make it dated just for that reason. Technically absolutely brilliant (D-E A + HCH). Just by the weird song titles, one can see that this band is heavy, I mean HHHEEEAAAVVVYYY, man!!
Photos about the album/band/track :
Out Of Focus – “Wake Up” Album cover photo (front)
Out Of Focus – “Wake Up” Album cover photo (back)
Out Of Focus – “Wake Up” Album photo (A’ Side)
Out Of Focus Photo
Links about the album/band/track :