Various reviews of the band Ozric Tentacles [UK]

Article courtesy of the Gibraltar Encyclopedia of Progressive Rock & Mike Taylor

Erpsongs (85), Tantric Obstacles (85), Live Ethereal Cereal (86), There Is Nothing (86), Sliding Gliding Worlds (88), The Bits Between The Bits (89), Pungent Effulgent (89), Erpland (90), Strangeitude (91), Afterswish (92), Live Underslunky (92), Jurassic Shift (93), Vitamen Enhanced (93, 6CD set of first six cassette-only releases), Arborescence(94),Become The Other(95)

One of my personal favorites, the Tentacles have an absolutely unbelievable sound, in the same vein of fusion as Djam Karet, yet with bubbling spacey electronics, more keyboards and a Gong influence that takes that bands space fusion style and leaves their silliness behind. Yet again a band that has a virtual library of styles, Ozric Tentacles on the course of an album will move from intense high speed fusion, to incredibly atmospheric electronic music to a track that could only be described as a prog bands answer to reggae. Anything by these guys comes highly recommended, and I mean HIGHLY.

The music is virtuosic keyboard/guitar rock, anchored with a strong drum-bass rhythm, improvisational at times, yet always strongly executed. At times, the guitar work is reminiscent of Steve Hillage's work with Gong, with, as one reviewer put it, "... none of the metaphysical bullshit...". There is a strong improvisational element in their music, yet not to the extent of self-indulgent doodling. This band was hailed as one of the best bands of 1990, with _Erpland_. _Live Underslunky_ was recorded at gigs played in November 1991. These guys manage to get their live pieces to live up to the standard of their studio material, and the result is a fine collection of "space rock" in the best traditions. All the favourites are here, including "Erpland", "Bizarre Bazaar", etc.

This is another band that has been raved about on the net in the past few months. What I've heard has been instrumental spacey stuff that is really difficult to classify, but I can hear strains of Hawkwind, Floyd, and even Jethro Tull. Very heavy on the sound effects, solid bass lines. Worth a listen, without a doubt.

Ozric Tentacles is generally regarded as one of the best things to happen to progressive/psychedelic rock in recent years. I agree. They have developed quite a following in the U.K. and a cult following seems to be developing here in the States. _Erpland_ is a non-stop psychedelic jam of the finest kind from start to finish.

_Erpland_ (and other Ozric music) is based around the incredible interplay between Ed Wynne's guitar and Joie Hinton's ethereal synthesizer. Hinton has the bubbling/gurgling synth down cold and I think the keyboard work on this album is some of the best space synth work in recent years. Wynne is an impeccable guitar player whose chops draw from the best of Steve Hillage. The obvious influence at work is Gong during their Planet Gong trilogy, though there isn't the silly fantasy themes that occasionally gets in the way of Gong's music (e.g., _Angel's Egg_) at times.

There are no lyrics and the focus is on the incredible, mind-blowing jams with distinct mid-eastern influences that would feel right at home in any opium den. Titles such as 'Tidal Convergence', 'Mysticum Arabicola', and 'Valley of a Thousand Thoughts' indicate the direction you'll head when listening to these, particularly if you recently visited that opium den. Songs like 'Eternal Wheel' and 'Tidal Convergence' highlight the intense fusion of Wynne's furious playing against a backdrop of celestial sounds from Hinton's keyboards. Others, such as 'Toltec Spring', 'Cracker Blocks', and 'A Gift of Wings', use guitar, synth, and various percussion instruments to develop a wonderfully engrossing and meditative atmosphere. 'Iscence' shows the band's exploratory style, which takes the space theory and overlays it on a reggae foundation. Unique, to say the least. Simply stated, this album gets my highest recommendation.

_Pungent Effulgent_ was actually released on LP before _Erpland_ but on CD after _Erpland_. It is similar to _Erpland_ though a both spacier and more experimental in many places. Wynne's trademark guitar is all over. _Strangeitude_ is usually mentioned as a favorite by those who haven't heard _Erpland_, the most commonly cited fave. _Strangeitude_ has a more aggressive edge relative to previous albums. _Live Underslunky_ is an excellent live set though the "ambience" or "spaciousness" of their studio work is missing. _Afterswish_ was a collection from their first six cassettes but its purpose is nearly negated by the _Vitamen Enhanced_ boxed set which contains CD versions of the first six cassettes. _Afterswish_ has a couple of new tracks, though, making it worthwhile for the Ozrics completist. _Jurassic Shift_ finds the band treading familiar ground (ala _Strangeitude_) instead of breaking new ground. Start with _Erpland_ or _Pungent Effulgent_.

Sometimes they almost sound more "alternative" than "progressive", but still very good nonetheless. All I've heard is _Live Underslunky_ which is mostly pretty good, although very repetative and too drawn-out at times during extended jams. Heavy use of synth effects.

Top progressive instrumental band of the 90s from the UK. Erpland (1990) and Strangeitude (1991) are both excellent CDs full of consistently strong material and brilliant playing. As many have said before, OT has just about everything you could want: a highly accomplished drummer with a huge sound, an aggressive bass player featured prominently in the mix, a guitarist worthy of praise, plenty of top-notch synthesizer work, and a flute player and two percussionists to boot. The sound is somewhat reminiscent of later Gong but much tighter.

The question is only where to begin, I've never met anyone who didn't flip over this band after they heard them. Start with _Erpland_ or _Strangeitude_. Long stylish fusion jams in the style of Gong.

I find it a bit hard to listen to all 2 hours of Afterswish in one sitting, but so far my impression is fairly positive. The first 40 minutes or so is classic OT. Killer psychadelic jamming reminiscent of very early Hawkwind. These guys can say more in an instrumental than most bands can say with words. However as the album progresses it goes a little bit downhill. In other words, from classic to just plain good. Great music for studying and/or sex. :-) Fans of Erpland will love the first disc while the second is more along the lines of Strangeitude. Maybe this isn't the best place to start with Ozric Tentacles, but it is a must for any fan.

I only have _Afterwish_, but it's enough to sell me on this band. _Erpland_ is supposedly their best. Strong _You_ era Gong influence without the silliness. Very tight. Incredible, incredible, incredible band.

I have _Erpland_, _Pungent Effulgent_, and _Live Underslunky_. With all the raving, which is mostly deserved, I'm a bit hesitant to say this, but I'm not sure one needs to get more than one OT album. The ones I have aren't distinctive enough (distinctive from each other, that is) for me to even think about which one might be my favorite. But I'd recommend checking the band out; it's wonderful stuff nonetheless.

[See Amon Duul (UK); Afterswish is compilation from the six cassette-only releases.]

Written By Mike Taylor (Editor GEPR)

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