(All Album Reviews by maribor)
The band Oko was formed in the early 1970s, around guitarist, singer and songwriter Pavel Kavec. The line-up around him was extremely unstable, so it came as no surprise that the bass player and drummer joined the band just before recording the album. Welcome additions on this album are the keyboard player Andrej Konjajev (Izvir) and percussionist Miha Vipotnik, who really spruce up the album. As a final guest, the cult guitarist and vocalist from Gordi and Dah, Zlatko Manojlovič sings a song.
Most of the compositions were written by Kavec. There is not really all that much progressive about this band. The first couple of songs are pretty straightforward hard rock. So why write a review about them? Well, a few years before recording this album, Kavec became interested in the jazz-rock movement and he started to write some material in that direction. So, there are a couple of fusion songs here as well. The eight-minute title track is one, while the other is “Tema IV”, a piece written by the bass player, who was also interested in jazz-rock. These two numbers make up almost half of the original album and really save the show. What would otherwise be a pretty bland and unoriginal hard rock effort becomes more interesting with some moments of fusion. As far as the hard rock pieces are concerned, they're not bad. Some of them are in fact very catchy and enjoyable, but there's nothing really new and undiscovered.
Kavec had been heavily influenced by Jimmy Hendrix in his guitar playing as a youth and it shines through even here. At times, even some melodies bare an uncanny resemblance to those penned by the American master. His playing is very good, he was probably one of the first Slovene guitar heroes and his style remains heavily rooted in hard rock even in the jazzier segments. Usually, there are several guitar solos in one song. Personally, I find this to be over the top. I'm not all too fond of such flaunting, particularly not in hard rock. If he had a jazzier style, I probably wouldn't mind as much. The bass player also has some nice moves. More often than not, he is unfortunately overshadowed by Kavec's over the top playing. The drummer is not all that spectacular, but he gets the job done. The addition of Konjajev on keyboards really improved this album dramatically. You can see this if you listen to the bonus tracks (with Slovene lyrics, not Serbo-Croatian like on the album), which are recorded without the keyboards. Konjajev actually manages to get a few solos in as well, which is a mighty achievement considering the ego of Pavel Kavec.
Oko is historically not all that important. It was a band with good players and mediocre writers. The fusion stuff is good, but there are several other fusion bands that do it better, while the hard rock material has all been heard before. This is a band that is interesting to collectors, fans of Jimmy Hendrix and hard rock. If you want excitement, innovation or even good composing skills, I'd suggest someone else.