Out of Focus - Four Letter Monday Afternoon. 1972 Germany
CD reissues: 1992 Kuckuk (2 CD); 2010 Reactive/Esoteric (UK 2 CD)
LP reissue: 2009 Missing Vinyl (2 LP)
When I was first introduced to Four Letter Monday Afternoon in the 1980s, it had been described to me as a Krautrock version of Soft Machine. A local friend at the time, who is a huge fan of Soft Machine, vehemently disagreed with such an assertion, and found it somewhat offensive to compare. And while I can understand his perspective, it's also not a wild stretch to make such a claim. There is a bit of Canterbury whimsy within some of the songs, most notably 'Where Have You Been' and 'When I'm Sleeping' (bonus track). And taking the comparison further, there are long stretches of experimental rock with a jazz underpinning. But the keyword here is Krautrock, and it's clear that Out of Focus were heavily influenced by their own local contemporaries more so than what was happening in England. There's a considerable amount of stinging psychedelic guitar, echoed flutes, horn charts, and jamming Hammond throughout. And it remarkably stays within the rails for most of the duration (Side 4 the sole exception), with plenty of melodic interludes, despite being improvisational in nature. I could see this album as the logical conclusion of where Xhol Caravan was heading post Electrip, though that group decided to trip out further instead. Deep divers will also hear bands as diverse as Eiliff, Roundhouse, and Kollektiv. Honestly, I think Four Letter Monday Afternoon is entirely unique, even different from their own work, and is a great example of the exploratory spirit to be found in Germany at that time.