Texel is an English/Danish collaboration/project featuring guitar player Neil Gowland and Steffen Staugaard (keyboards and composer). They are assisted by Max Saidi (drums), Phil Wood (bass) and Thorstein Quebec Hemmet on flute, except for the piece Impressions where Gerard McDonald plays the flute. Texel plays instrumental tracks which are heavily inspired by the legendary Dutch progressive rock group Focus. The album is characterized as “an homage to the bands musical style”. And it surely is!
Without having read the above... from the first chords of opener Medusa, the main inspiration for Texel is crystal clear - that guitar sound, combined with organ... this can only be a tribute to prog masters Focus!
Naming highlights is difficult because this album is crammed with them. The musicians are enthusiastic and sparkle and shine, strutting with energy. Let me single out just a few. One I must mention is the second piece, 1975, which brings some delicious electric piano. That is an instrument that always manages to get me enthusiastic. There's a playful and upbeat flute leading a way in this piece over a loose rhythm section. This is Texel - or Focus - on its most funky. Cool.
I love especially the varied and powerful Modus Operandi. This piece starts calm and a bit introspective. Halfway through it then launches into an energetic part, only to switch abruptly to calm organ and flute again, and then ending with that majestic and triumphant guitar line that has written Jan Akkerman all over it. All Caps. The relatively short Kingmakers Parade then closes the album with a slight classical twinge in the main melody.
Texel may score low on the originality scale (except for the title, which is taken from the Dutch island of that name where Focus played a gig in 1971) but scoring high there was never their aim anyway. At this point in time they are a homage and there are few bands who do this as well as Texel does. And ironically, I would say that Texel's debut album is better than last year's new Focus album, Focus 11.
Without any doubt one of my favourite recent albums. I keep playing this over and over again.
**** Carsten Busch (edited by Dave Smith)
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