Cherry Red 2014
Out of FOCUS and into the blinding blur, Dutch trio feel their way through improv bits and pieces.
Since the most famous yodel-rock band returned into the fray this side of the Millennium, they’ve been pursuing Thijs van Leer’s vision, but take Father Focus out of their formula and you’re left with a leaner unit bent on experimentation. That’s SWUNG for you, born out of bassist Bobby Jacobs, Thijs’ stepson, and veteran drummer Pierre van der Linden’s endeavors in rhythm, with a melodic layer added by the parent band’s guitarist: Niels van der Steenhoven on the first CD of this set and Menno Gootjes on the second one. Some of their ideas landed on “Focus 9” and "X", but it’s a fan’s game to track it all down, as everything stands on its own feet here.
With each piece on “Vol. 2” titled “Raga Reverence” and simply numbered, and the same going for “Vol.1” where “Adventrure” is the name of the game, there’s a certain continuity at play, as well as crossing over from genre to genre. Thus, the wah-wah-shaking “A1” charges through funk and “A7” exercises a Hendrix-like jive with a fat four-string line which hangs loose soloing in “RR4,” while “RR2” contracts the blues vibe from “A8.” And if “A3” measures the band’s dynamic range before sculpting a solid rock riff out of a nebulous soundscape to cut it even harder in “A5” and resolve “RR 5” into a twangy rockabilly – these are those rare spots that see the trio at their tightest interplay – the guitar overdubs in “RR1” broker a fusion mood and carefully build up exquisite tension for “RR3,” although the most accomplished of all is a multi-layered expanse of “RR6” marrying romantic strum to a rippling groove.
So there’s an alternative, more elemental, universe to that of FOCUS: listen attentively, and you’ll catch its breath.