‘Electric Region’s is the latest solo album by Focus bassist, Udo Pannekeet, and since he started work on it, it has taken some five years to complete amidst his other recording and touring duties. It also features guest appearances by current Focus guitarist Menno Gootjes as well as by ex-Focus guitarist Eef Albers so any fan of that band is definitely going to be interested. It commences with the title track (which is marked as “Part One”, but nothing else by that name appears on this album so possibly that is for the next one) which is nearly 24 minutes in length, plus two numbers written some years ago plus a couple of newer ones, giving a combined length of approximately 44 minutes.
This is a jazz fusion record, with some very Latin style percussion at times, and takes us back firmly to the late Seventies. He has involved brass and woodwind musicians alongside the five guitarists, so there are 15 musicians involved throughout and the overall feel is of something incredibly self-indulgent. Pannekeet is a fine bass player, and he is a firm believer in the power of the ensemble as although he plays complex lines throughout, he rarely allows the mix to bring him forward, tending to concentrate mostly on the drums and horns. But, this is music which meanders, there is little in the way of direction yet it also does not have the power of improvisation. I listen to a lot of fusion these days, but when I started checking to see how much longer this had to go the first time I played it I knew there was a problem. To my ears it has not got any better with repeated listens and even though I have seen this get some rave reviews on the web, this is not one of them. I would much rather hear more delicacy such as on “Little Nura” when we have some sombre bass chords which lead into a track unlike the rest of the album. As for the rest, it is really not for me at all.
6/10 Kev Rowland