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OUT OF FOCUS / HISTORY

Out Of Focus / Kontrast
classic Krautrock, progressive, fusion & cross-culture

 

Moran, Ingo, Klaus, Wolfgang, Stephan, Remigius
Left: Out Of Focus in 1970, Right: the last incarnation Moran, Ingo, Klaus, Wolfgang, Stephan, Remigius

from The Crack In The Cosmic Egg...

Existing for ten years or so, Out Of Focus were amongst the finest of German rock fusion bands. Formed in late-1968 in Munich, they rapidly established a stylish and refined blend of rock and jazz, that drew in psychedelic overtones and also a profound socio-political awareness in Moran Neumüller's songs.
    The early albums exhibited that unique character of Krautrock (akin to Xhol, Thirsty Moon, etc.) with pure invention in a music that transcends boundaries, taking the rock song beyond its normal format with extended instrumentals featuring an abundance of solos and surprises. I would argue that Out Of Focus started excellent, and got even better with each album. WAKE UP! is a music as exclamatory as the title, very underground and still with an air of psychedelia. The eponymous second is possibly their most refined, and the most well-balanced mixture of songs and instrumentals, with stunning Xhol/Embryo hybrids. Probably the finest of all their albums was the monumental double FOUR LETTER MONDAY AFTERNOON, almost certainly a dedication to Soft Machine's revolutionary double "Third", it similarly had mainly instrumental and lengthy tracks, although the first LP is a little more down to earth, the unprecedented surprise is the extended suite that encompassed the whole of the second LP! It seems amazing that a band were able to start off with a masterpiece and better it with each subsequent album, yet that's what Out Of Focus did!
    It's a shame that Kuckuck withdrew its interest in Krautrock in the mid-1970s, as it left Out Of Focus without the chance of a contract elsewhere. So the story goes, Eckart Rahn was not that enthusiastic about FOUR LETTER MONDAY AFTERNOON and gave it no promotion. This was a bizarre state of affairs, as it was the most choice selection from hours upon hours of recording sessions financed by Eckart and Kuckuck. No, he wasn't interested any more, which found Out Of Focus in a similar position to Embryo, in that they could easily get a record deal if they did something commercial, but not to do what they wanted to do.
    The best of the unreleased recordings from the Four Letter Monday Afternoon sessions are now documented on the album RAT ROADS. Further to my inquiries about a later unreleased album, Remigius Drechsler rediscovered tapes from 1974 of rehearsal sessions for an album that was never fully realised. Remastered and remixed these appeared as the album NOT TOO LATE which stepped-on style-wise from the longer tracks from the second Out Of Focus, but without keyboards, and instead a second guitarist and expanded wind section. It's a remarkable gem that proved Out Of Focus to be moving on despite the media apathy.
    There were plans for a release with the April/Schneeball collective in 1975, in fact some recordings were made, and maybe some day they will gain a release on a planned anthology CD. All that eventually emerged was one track on a festival LP, by which time they had changed into a more conventional jazz-rock band, featuring only one original member, leader: Remigius Drechsler.
    Since their demise Remigius went on to numerous other projects, joining Embryo several times over the years, organising music events in Munich, the Out Of Focus revisited Kontrast project...

A rarity of 1980s Krautrock, Kontrast saw ex-Out Of Focus members: Remigius Drechsler, Ingo Schmid-Neuhaus and Moran Neumüller, working together again after having been apart for several years.
    Out Of Focus main-man Remigius Drechsler had been with Embryo on and off for a couple of years prior to this, and actually Kontrast was his project and not a proper band as such. In fact, one track is Remigius entirely solo, with the aid of some nifty multi-tracking! Most of the album, however, is pretty much live rockin' fusion stepping on from the second disc of Out Of Focus' FOUR LETTER MONDAY AFTERNOON, as a refined and complex fusion, deep groove music that rattles along magnificently, characteristic of the Munich scene, with the edge on solo upon solo, experimentation and weirdness. Though little-known, Kontrast deserve their growing reputation as one of the finest examples of 1980s Krautrock alongside Embryo's ZACK GLUCK. Other recordings existed, and a CD reissue with bonus material is now available on Cosmic Egg.

discography...

WAKE UP! - LP Kuckuck 2375 006 (1970), CD Ohrwaschl/Kuckuck 11006-2 (1991)
OUT OF FOCUS - LP Kuckuck 2375 010 (1971), CD Ohrwaschl/Kuckuck 11010-2 (1991)
FOUR LETTER MONDAY AFTERNOON - 2LP Kuckuck 2640 101 (1972), 2CD Ohrwaschl/Kuckuck 12032-2 (1993)
NOT TOO LATE - LP Tripkick 004 (1999), CD Cosmic Egg UTCE 001 (2000)
RAT ROADS - LP Tripkick 006 (2002), CD Garden of Delights CD 064 (2002)
PALERMO 1972 - CD Garden of Delights CD 135 (2007)

related project...
KONTRAST - LP Remi Records 86001 (1986), KONTRAST, VOLUME I & II CD Cosmic Egg UTCE 003 (2008)

original Out Of Focus tracks on other releases...
UNSOMST UND DRAUSSEN PORTA WESTVLOTHICA 1978 - 2LP MOL 0005/6 (1978) track: Sommer 58
DER KLANG DER FRÜHEN JAHRE - CD Kuckuck 11106-2 ‎(1998) track: Sommer 58
THE CRACK IN THE COSMIC EGG - CD-Rom Audion Publications ISBN 0-9529506-0-CDROM (2007) tracks: Hey John 1976, Kneitinging 1978, Kontrast - Rules Of The Band

Out Of Focus also feature on...
 KRAUTROCK - DL Cosmic Egg UTCE BC1 (2018) tracks: Out Of Focus - Y, Kontrast - Opus Dope Us
plus various other 1970s samplers

Ultima Thule releases indicated in dark blue. Kuckuck albums were also reissued by Esoteric Recordings in the UK.

Out Of Focus articles and reviews in Audion - #18/15, #20/38, #44/21-27, #47/28, #54/5

 

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