The following are reviews from fans attending the concerts as well as from the printed media.
Review of the opening night concert in boston
Opening night of the Ozric Tentacles U.S. tour in Boston last night was many things. First of all, it was exceptionally loud - probably one of the loudest gigs (relative to the size of the space) that I've ever been to.Prior to the show and during the opening band, Jumpin' John was out and about, drinking with friends and looking rather excited. He seems like a nice guy. The Star People were odd indeed. Kind of a David Bowie, King Crimson,X-files mix. The guitarist is obviously a Fripp enthusiast - even looks like him. The songs were at times very amusing. All the band members wear tuxedos. So then the massive break down and build up of equipment begins. The music in between sets was enormously bassy. The entire club shook with technobass. The Ozrics had what must have been seven or eight people scurryingaround the stage getting everything set up. It took a while, but eventually the boys came on stage... They definitely raged. Ed moved between guitar and standing over his synthstotally entranced. He's very busy on stage, constantly checking things out,using a pen light to read his monitors, etc. When he soloed though, he wasthe shred master. 'Erpland' was awesome. Unfortunately I can never remember the names of the songs, but I believe another gem was 'Papyrus.' Also 'China Type' was very atmospheric. I have to say that the most virtuosic performance was given by Rad. He was simply unbelievable. I wasstanding just above the stage right floor on top of a bench and could seeeverything he was doing and he was just incredible. He definitely is thehardest working member of the band currently (physically speaking). I wasoverwhelmed by his performance. Zia did a fine job as well...hugelyconsistent with some great bass lines. Seaweed has extremely long dreadlocks. Other than that, I have a hard time understanding which soundscame from him and which came from Ed. He was also the furthest one from myview and surrounded on all sides by synthesizers. John Egan was all overthe place, as per usual. He had the flute to his lips about 80% of thetime, but they only turned his mic up enough to hear it 10% of that. So the flute seemed more an appendage than anything else. However, when you could hear him, the flute lent a great deal to the songs. They played some new stuff as well, with reggae overtones. But the sheer volume of the performance, along with Rad's mind-blowing display were the most remarkable. They lose some of the studio's ethereal nuances live, andlots of times sounded downright metal, which I really liked. But they were definitely alive to crescendoes, pulling back the volume when appropriate. All in all a memorable evening. I got a shirt. I believe it was Blim who was doing the t-shirt sales which was also cool. There's a few to choose from - they're $15. Well worth the cost. There it is. A review of opening night of the US tour. Enjoy yourselves at upcoming venues. There was a good sized crowd in Boston, so I imagine NYC will be equally successful.
(Thanks Patrick for doing such a good job.)
Review Of the TLA show
The Ozrics' set was indeed crazed to the "nth" degree. i don't want to spoil this for anyone as far as the songs go, but i will mention that "O~I" was involved quite nicely, thank you. There were Ozric standards a-plenty, some of which they have not done in a while but were revived in fine form. some new material as well going on. yeah. i'm having trouble speaking / writing here... not too much in the concrete going on, sorry. unfortunately they weren't allowed to do an encore due to the fact that there were 3 bands and the TLA, like many places, hath a curfew and there are row-houses right around it. There were some technical problems as well, and the full Fruit Salad experience was not to be had. don't get me wrong, what they had was very cool, but they couldn't get the strobes working right or something because the building didn't have enuf juice!! but the boys played a great set and done my heart good. mama mama many worlds i've seen since i first left home. yeah.
Afterwards we watched Ed as he overlooked the loading of gear into Ryder truck. He and Seaweed said hey to us after all was said and done, and were happy that we were going to see them in NYC and then Baltimore. the whole band now knows that we're following them around a bit, save for Rad maybe, cuz i don't think any of us talked to him. we also met some of the tour- / road-managing guys too, and they were cool and also psyched to hear that we were stopping by a couple of shows aside from this one.
All in all a fantabulous evening. i don't think anyone will be disappointed
with the show. the guys are in fine form and the setlist is strong and the
lights are freaky and the band are all cool guys... i could go on! that's
the scary part!
peace and ozricity,
Review From the Jaxx Gig:
Hey Everyone- A wild night last night as England's own OZRIC TENTACLES took the stage @ Jaxx in Springfield,Va for what was to be quite a night of subsonic groovin spacerock.With their 10 min jams,influences of acid,indian ragas,sonic landscapes and good ol' hard rock ambience,if OZRIC ain't stoner,then I don't know what is...
OZRIC TENTACLES may be a newer name here(to some) in the States,but,with a history stretching back 18 years and about 15 cds,they are very well versed in putting on a show that is so intense it has the power to cause one's jaw to drop....
With lights provided by Jasper of the famous Fruit Salad Lights & Visions,it was sure to be a sight to behold,and Jasper didnt dissappoint.With a bank of 18 strobes on each side of the stage,as well as a pile of liquid slides and gels,it got pretty trippy at various points.
Onstage,it was musical brilliance to behold.Keyboardist SeaWeed,in particular,with his dreads hanging to the floor(!)and his patchwork pants and tie dyes were a sight.Playing a bank of old and new digital and analogue synthesizers,bouncing,dipping down to his knees,popping back up,smiling wildly...SeaWeed took us to other dimensions,especially on 'sploosh!' and 'waterfall cities'.Guitarist/keyboardist/spiritual leader Ed Wynne was in fine form,ripping away leads on his Ibanez guitar and then effortlessly blending synths with Seaweed at some points.Bassist Zia-man,how does he percolate so steady with his fingers!!! Zia is as solid as a rock,especially working in combination with drummer Rad Prince.Rad did an AMAZING job keeping time to the big sounds that flowed into ambient soundscapes and back into acid grooves.Out in front of all this madness was Jumping Jon Egan,playing his array of flutes,piccolos and small wind instruments.Always the showman,Jon was in fine form this night,even playing us acoustic flutes in between songs!The band seemed genuinely happy to be back in the States again.With much joking with the crowd about 'various kinds of tea'....,both Ed and Jon appeared to be having a great time.Ed even remarked to lightwizard Jasper that,thanks to the mirrors on Jaxx' walls,he could finally see the show from all sides and 'it was fine,very fine indeed' And,it was....Jasper & Fruit Salad really kicked it in during 'china type'.
The sound was a bit sketched at first,till the right PA stack basiclly got re-routed(something in there was blown to bits and you could hear it BAD-good ol' JAXX),but by 20 minutes into the set,it was 'space-the final frontier' and we didnt touch down again for another 80 mins!
With a set composed of tunes making up the last ten years or so,they played a number of songs from the newest cd "Waterfall Cities"(which they had on sale,btw),highlites for me(maybe an Ozric head here will know these)'china type','astro cortex','live throbbe'(what a minblower!)'waterfall cities','toltec spring' and the always hypnotic 'white rhino tea'.Tapes came out absolutely unreal.
Take a look at the Ozric website if you like,it lists a great amount of info,as well as the dates for the rest of the tour.Can't recommend these guys highly enough.
space is the place
(credits to Wombat @ Raven Moon publishing)
A natural progression for Ozric Tentacles
By Jim Sullivan, Globe Staff, 07/02/99
Mention the genre called progressive rock (or prog-rock) and a lot of folks wince or run - too pretentious, self-indulgent, long-winded, unconnected to the primal spirit of rock 'n' roll. When Peter Gabriel walked away from prog-rock kings Genesis in the late '70s, he told us, ''Progressive rock used to be about exploring music, and it came to be about using keyboards.''
All these things are often true. But then there's a band like Ozric Tentacles of London, a vocal-free quintet founded by guitarist Ed Wynne 17 years ago, playing at the Paradise Wednesday night, the start of a rare US tour. ''In England, there aren't really any prog rock bands, although in Europe there is,'' says Wynne. ''It's a funny thing, the label progressive rock. In England, it tends to mean `too intellectual for most people,' and some people are afraid of that and it's scary - they feel it's out of their depth. Our music does get progressive, but we start in a place where [the listeners] know where they are, then lead out from there. A lot of progressive rock groups, they throw you in at the deep end.''
Ozric Tentacles - the name for an imaginary fast cereal - releases its 16th album, ''Waterfall Cities,'' on Tuesday on the indie Phoenix Rising. The Ozrics have never been near a major label. ''Nobody ever asked us,'' says Wynne. ''We're too strange for most major labels, too bizarre.'' The Ozrics first became a hit on the English festival circuit, playing shows up to six hours long under the influence of various stimulants. Their sound features cyclical motifs, bubbling synthesizers, searing electric guitar leads. There are Eastern strains, dub, space rock, jams. It's a mix of hippie and rave aesthetics. ''When I first saw the raves kids have,'' Wynne says, ''when that started I thought, `Oh my God, what is this? People are getting away with murder, anybody can do it,' and then I realized that was a good thing - put it on computer and off it goes. It got more interesting, and I started liking certain bits, and a lot of rave people started coming to our concerts. They saw all these strange synths lying about; it was all instrumental - it's almost like a bridge between prog rock and rave.''
Wynne, who is joined in the band by brother Roly on synths, sees a difference between American and English psychedelia. ''The American psychedelic tradition comes from the blues end; in England it's not that, it's a Hawkwind state of mind, different scales. Rather than blues scales, we tend to go for Indian and e thnic scales, jam situations, and space rock, which is very much Hawkwind's thing. Ten years ago we were very much doing that but we've branched out. It's hard to say from the inside [what we do], but when we were cutting `Waterfall Cities,' we realized it was the first one that didn't have the Hawkwind 4/4 drum beat. Maybe we're shedding the last of that. In a way, we're almost freer now to explore any direction we like. One song has this Chinese-Japanese-sounding thing going on. Nothing like we've done before.''
Why does Ozric Tentacles eschew vocals and lyrics? ''What `message' can you put across with music like ours?'' says Wynne, with a laugh. ''We have done two songs, total, with vocals, though it's hard to determine what they're about. They're just words that rhyme and abstract images. I've always been much more interested in instrumentals. I know if I wrote lyrics I'd be very embarrassed. I can't imagine singing, either. I'd much rather hide beyind guitars and keyboards.'' This impending tour is the Ozric's first American sortie in six years. ''It's very difficult to get there,'' says Wynne, ''distance and visa situations, I guess. Last time, we got burnt badly, lost masses of money.'' Not this time, he avers. ''We have no personal problems going to America, we made sure of that. We'll have a happy time. We are trying for a real push, for the first time ever.'' Expect a two-hour show with a full-blown lights.
This story ran on page D14 of the Boston Globe on 07/02/99.
© Copyright 1999 Globe Newspaper Company.
New York Times
Friday, July 9, 1999
OZRIC TENTACLES, Wetlands Preserve, 161 Hudson Street, TriBeCa, (212) 966-4225. With a Phish-like following in Europe, this willfully eccentric bunch of knob-tweaking rock wizards packs in the kids who love free-form jamming. The music goes beyond the average Grateful Dead emulation, artistically and in terms of the wild visions it suggests. Tonight and tomorrow night at 11; tickets are $20 (Powers).
Philly City Paper
The (Techno) Age of Aquarius
For Ozric Tentacles, the seventh high is in the synthesizer.
by a.d. amorosi
Whether exhuming the Grateful Dead or chewing on the new space sounds from Apples In Stereo, Americans have never forgotten how to tune in and drop out. But when it comes to trippy music, British artists and fans have long had an interesting edge. Since the days of Pink Floyd, Hawkwind and Gong, they’ve maintained an outdoor festival musical culture focused on space-age primitives, pixies and pagans.
"The Stonehenge Solstice Festival used to be a yearly ritual for us," recalls Ozric Tentacles founder-guitarist Ed Wynne from his recording studio, located in a 400-year old-castle along the river Avon in England.
"It was a chance to play whenever and as often as we liked, for as long as it took. Seven hours was the longest gig. The amazing thing about this particular festival was that it really was free in the sense that people literally just turned up and camped near the stones. There were no rules."
It was this free festival culture, which would inevitably give itself over to the rave scene in the mid-’80s that birthed the organic, orgasmic wail of Ozric Tentacles. Bridging the gaps among psychedelic space-rock, ethno-trance fusion and techno-heavy electronica, Ozric Tentacles have created their own universe of noise.
Like Gong guitarist Steve Hillage or King Crimson’s Robert Fripp’s experiments with The Orb, the Ozrics play with texture and tone to create their heaven-and-earth sound. Dub grooves, quickly shifting rhythms and languorous guitar solos, as well as synthetic layers and crunchy percussion, make Ozric Tentacles a favorite of England’s techno-rave scene and the crusty movement (Britain’s vibrant jam band scene).
"In 1982 me and Roly [Wynne’s bass-playing brother and Ozric co-conspirator] were into all sorts of spacey instrumental music: Hawkwind, Todd Rundgren, Gong, Steve Hillage, Bob Marley, Can. But we were going to lots of free festivals and wandering around, there would be music coming from all directions all the time, either on sound systems, or obscure bands set up in corners of fields. We became one of these bands jamming in front of our van by the fire and looking up to find that there were about 200 people."
Over the next 17 years, the band released music on its own Dovetail label. In the U.S., albums such as Strangeitude and Jurassic Shift wound up on Capitol, IRS and Snapper. The members may do their own marketing and make their own shirts, but they’re still more worried about gear than anything.
"A gear head?" laughs Wynne. "I’m not obsessed with every new synth that comes along but when I get a new keyboard or something I like to delve very deeply into the possibilities and see how far the sounds can be twisted. I do like those wormy, ripping synth lines though."
Asked whether their mescaline-laced sound — found deep within their new, 19th album Waterfall Cities (Phoenix Rising) — comes from drugs or imagination, Wynne jokingly says somewhere in between.
"We used to get a lot more spaced out than we do now," remembers Wynne. "Our first two albums were recorded in a studio surrounded by fields full of mushrooms, so obviously they played a large part in the overall sound. Nowadays we don’t feel the need to do this so much because the memory is still there for when we need to tap into that particular energy." Weaving elements of "blippy, rave scene music" into Ozric’s already trance-inducing, world-musical fabric is what makes Waterfall Cities’ winding, improvisational rock kick into an ether of complex, dancey beats and lava-lamp-like ambience.
Recorded "mostly live," the album bursts out of your speakers with a spasmodic rush.
"The listener is catapulted, say, into a pre-historic jungle with odd animal sounds and the like. I won’t say where they came from as this will dampen the mystery."
Ozric Tentacles will play Thu., July 8, 8 p.m., at the TLA, 334 South St, 215-922-1011.
The Village Voice
This prominent underground (no oxymoron intended) British quintet epitomizes what mud-flopping UK audiences know as "festival" rock and German rockers call "stoner" music. The Tentacles' acid-prog guitar narratives and ravey beats, drones, and non-Western percussion makes for a highly dramatic multimedia adventure in an ongoing psychedelic continuum that's all the sweeter when squeezed into a club. (Gehr)
Fri 7/9 8pm, Sat 7/10 8pm
161 Hudson, Manhattan
Time Out NY
Wetlands Preserve; Friday July 9 and Saturday, July 10
Great concerts are commonplace in NYC's wonderfully oversaturated culture. Important ones, however, are rarer. This weekend, an English band called Ozric Tentacles will be helping to fill the void with its first Manhattan appearances in almost five years.
Springing from a UK festival scene that thrives on musicianship, creativity and, above all, grooves, the Ozrics have long been heroes to hordes of Europeans- and a few scattered Americans- who don't demand that bands have lead singers. Indeed, the five man collective is led by no one as it generates some of the warmest space jams known to humans, squeezing listeners into a new headspace through its drum 'n' bass-flavored psychedelia. The deep explorations are a true team push, with an equal focus falling on the rhythm section of drummer Conrad Prince and bassist Zia Geelani, on synth player Christopher Lenox-Smith, on flutist Jumping John Egan and on guitarist Ed Wynne.
It's interesting that the Ozrics have a strong sense of collaboration, because they could easily allow Wynne's genius electric guitar playing to be the focal point. Live, his fingers navigate the neck superbly, and you'd fixate on him entirely if he weren't sharing each moment with the audience and the other musicians. For further evidence of his virtuosity, check out the ear-bending atmospheres on the group's newest release, Waterfall Cities (Phoenix Media Group), which range from the insistent sway of "Spiralmind" to the charged up swirl of "Coily". But the recordings are no match for what these guys are expected to pull off at Wetlands, which should display both overwhelming sounds and their own blistering light show to match. - David Weiss
This story ran on page 111 of Time Out NY in the July 8-15, 1999 issue.
J U L Y 7 - J U L Y 1 4 , 1 9 9 9
Thurs., July 8, 9 p.m. $18. With Star People. Theatre of the Living Arts, 334 South St. 215.922.1011.
For 17 years, Britain's Ozric Tentacles has defined a rich intersection between psychedelia, World Beat and truly crazed electronica. Their style, with its long, suite-like songs and jarring textural shifts, seems closest to the prog rock of Yes and King Crimson. But in their trippy, go-for-broke abandon, they draw more on the whacked spirit of English eccentrics Gong and Syd Barrett.
That's totally appropriate for a group that first came together at a Stonehenge Solstice Festival. Initially, the Ozrics made their name performing at such events, where their deep-space explorations gained a rabid following among London's neo-hippie underground. Their popularity really grew, however, with the rise of techno, which their rave-friendly music had largely anticipated. By 1992, their status was such that they were grossing $3 million a year.
Expect a great light show and plenty of material from the new Waterfall Cities CD (Phoenix Rising), an excellent launching pad for points unknown.
-- RAMSAY PENNYPACKER
This story ran in the Philadelphia Weekly in the July 7-14, 1999 issue.
Copyright © 1999, CP Communications, Inc. All rights reserved.
Review of Ozric Tentacles Live at the Recher Theater
July 15, 1999 - Ozric Tentacles/Star People
This was my second night with the greatest band in the universe, but I was not alone. The dude with the "Vacuums Suck" t-shirt next to me was on his fourth gig so far, starting with both NY gigs. And don't even get me started about Drew, the wild and crazy screaming guy who had apparently been to thirteen gigs.
The opening act Star People are a unique band out of NYC, and not one you'll want to miss. Imagine King Crimson meets Pink Floyd at Dean Martin's birthday party and you begin to have a sense of the musical anarchy they have to offer. Great band, and quite possibly your last chance to see a real Moog synth in action until the Captain and Tenille reunion gig.
The sound was definitely very bassy compared to the Jaxx. Really loud. I had to stuff my ears with paper towel in order to be able to stay up front near the PA monitors without risking damage. More sound problems this time, apparently with one of Seaweed's power strips imported to handle the euro-style cord plugs on his numerous synths. He would comically lance out with his left foot every now and again and look up at the soundboard in quizzical ecstasy. Poor Seaweed has seemed to take the brunt of the sound issues so far this tour, I hope somewhere down the line the music gods finally give him a break.
Despite these hassles the night was high-energy and the crowd was unbelievable! Screaming and undulating, shirtless freaks crawling through the crowd on their hands and knees, mad dancing fits somewhere between innocent Phish-like grooving and out-and-out mosh pits. Jaxx was relatively well-populated, I thought, for a fringe techno-prog band from England, but the Recher theater was absolutely jammed to capacity. I couldn't even see the back of the venue from up front when they stepped on stage. I think Ozric was as surprised as I was to see the turnout, a fact John and Ed commented on many occasions. It seems this time around the States the band is doing very well for themselves; both gigs I attended were well-populated and they had already sold out of two varieties of shirts (the best ones - luckily I got my fill on Ozric merchandise at the previous gig).
I don't have the setlist memorized but it was essentially the same as Jaxx (7/13), with the substitution of "Chinatype" for "Papyrus." They played Spiralmind (?) from _Waterfall Cities_. It's definitely not one of my faves but they pulled it off much better this time around than at Jaxx. For those of you who haven't seen Ozric live, its an experience you won't soon forget (especially if you are epileptic -) Songs that you might not enjoy on CD take on a completely new meaning in the live context. To be up front during the sawtooth wave breakdown in "Sploosh" is quite possibly one of the most immersing and ungodly musical experiences I have ever had. Banks of strobes flashing with John jumping about wielding his flute like a lightsaber, like some Jedi hero poised and ready to pull off a mob mindF**k. "Throbbe" and "White Rhino Tea" take on completely new meanings in a live context, especially the former. Wow! Even songs like "Oddendity", which I thought was one of the weakest offerings on Curious Corn, was amazing live. They played a few other standards like "Erpland" which is always good - check out the tools Ed uses for that wierd atonal slide breakdown at the end of the song. "Dissolution" was of course played and John got to do his thing. "O-I" is one of my faves and a big surprise was "Snakepit" - a song that is so absolutely mind-blowingly agressive live but has no guitars! Only Ozric Tentacles could pull that trick off. Watch out for that one. They are all consummate musicians, and I will echo what another reviewer has said about Rad - I don't know where this guy came from but he is an unbelievable drummer with some of the best chops I have ever seen. (Considering i've seen Peart *and* Bruford several times you can rest assured i'm not making that statement lightly either -)
The band hung out for a good hour after the show and I encourage everyone to stop and say "hello" - they are absolutely great guys who are thrilled to be overseas and meeting everyone, and were quite generous to sign the ton of Ozric memorabilia that I dragged with me. I brought a promo poster I got from the Jaxx gig - apparently from Phoenix Media (its the image on their website for the band). The band absolutely hates this since it relegated Blim's superb artwork to a small corner thumbnail but they signed it anyways. Jumping John has abandoned the English language and is now signing with funky hieroglyphics.
For the uninitiated, I guarantee that you will be walking out of this show with a CD in hand, and possibly a t-shirt in the other - you'll need the freaky green one to follow along with John on "Dissolution" -) Oh yeah, and a blown mind - this was absolutely without a doubt the most insane show I have ever seen.
British group Ozric Tentacles' name, show 'faily random'
By J.D. Considine, Baltimore Sun
Printed in the Milwaukee Journal/Sentinal
Just becaise a band jams, doesnt make it a jam band.
What Americans tend to think of as "jam bands" have a loose, boogie-spiked improvisational style. Somewhere between the sound of Blues Traveler and the Gratefull Dead. Which is almost nothing like the sound of Britains Ozric Tentacles.
Even though the quintet is every bit as prone to jamming as Phish, the Ozrics-in the miudst of their first U.S. tour since 1994, including a stop tonight in Milwaukee- are synth-drenched with a strong Eastern element to the melodies.
In fact, ozric Tentacles' sound has much more in common with space rock combos like Camel of jazz fusion acts like Weather Report than with the amiable meanderings of the Dead and its disciples.
"In America, the music comes from blues background, more thatn from a space-rock background," said Ozric Tentacles guitarist ( and founder) Ed Wynne. "Which is a nice thing. Healthy differences, if you like."
Nonetheless, there are some similarities between Ozric and its american cousins.
Take, for example, the groups playfully absurd name.
"We've always been ones for saying silly words," Wynne said. "Our album titles and track titles have always been strange words that we've sort of half invcented, and this ws just another one.
"... People would come up and say,'What's the name of the band?' I said, 'Ozric Tentacles' just for a joke one day, and it kind of stuck. But it turns out 'Ozric' is a name. It's an actual Christian name, but its spelled with an 's', not a 'z'. It comes from Norther Europe, and it turnsout 'Osric' means 'divine energy'.
"And 'Tentacles' was just another thing to add to it, but it implies reaching out and stretching around the globe. Which is quite nice."
At this point, however, the Ozrics' tentacles havent quite reached out all the way around the globe. Although the group has developed quite a following in Britain and in Europe, it is still trying to gain ground in the United States.
Wynne says his groups low profile can in part be blamed on the fact that more than four years have passed since the bands last U.S.tour. Although the band has a new album, "Waterfall Cities," in stores, its live show is very much off-the-cuff. "Its all fairly random,"Wynne said, laughing. "luckily,enough times, it seems to work."
Ozric Tentacles performs at 8pm today at Shank Hall, 1434 N. Farwell Ave. Advance tickets are $17. For information, call shank Hall at 414-276-7288.
Band escapes pop's stranglehold on British music scene
By Candace Murphy
San Jose Mercury News
Published: Friday, July 30, 1999
THE GUYS who make up the Ozric Tentacles always have thought it a shame that ``progressive rock'' -- or prog rock, as it's more commonly called -- has that name.
Because it's hard to think of two more stultifyingly boring words to describe a music that swirls together reggae rhythms, astral keyboards and spaced-out guitar.
This is the soundtrack of a head shop in the Haight-Ashbury. It's the music kids of the '70s heard at the ``Laserium'' on Friday nights. It's the combination of rhythm and melody you imagine accompanying some poor misguided kid's experimentation with mescaline in the '60s.
For worse or for better, it's musicianship-heavy psych rock, a polite name for drug music.
That's why the Tentacles, champions of the United Kingdom's underground electronic scene for 17 years, decided to make up for the boring genre name.
``It's a funny thing, isn't it,'' says Ed Wynne, guitarist for Ozric Tentacles, a tag line the band came up with, undoubtedly under the influence of some extracurricular hallucinogens, when thinking up names for imaginary breakfast cereals. ``Strange name for strange music.''
The Tentacles never have hedged about the association of their music with drugs. Heck, the band recorded its first two albums while on mushrooms. And we're not talking portabellos here. Despite these politically correct times, though, the Tentacles haven't shied away from hallucinogens.
``We don't steer away from it, but we don't really have as much time,'' allows Wynne, 37. ``The thing with the mushrooms was, our first two albums were recorded in this studio in Wales, which was really remote. (It was) surrounded by nothing but mountains and fields full of sheep, and we happened to be there in the autumn, and that's when these mushrooms grow. They were absolutely everywhere, all over the place. . . . It became the cup of tea that we had in the morning. Looking back on it, it was quite an interesting experiment. And I think the music did turn out OK.''
The Tentacles really haven't changed since they first got together during a spontaneous jam around a campfire at the 1982 Stonehenge Solstice Festival, but the times have. It's surprising, in this age of pop music and cookie-cutter musical acts, that there's room for a band that gives a light-show set to psychedelically enhanced synth soundscapes.
Wynne claims the stranglehold pop has on the music scene is even deadlier in England than in the United States. That's part of the reason the Tentacles embarked on their current four-week tour. Though they played the Fillmore in San Francisco last year, the current tour marks the band's first full Stateside swing in more than four years. The group will play at Palookaville in Santa Cruz tonight and the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco on Saturday.
``It's not as much of a pop atmosphere in America as it is in England. In England, it's purely pop music, really,'' says Wynne. ``But in the States, it's amazing. It seems to be a very musician-friendly place. I play guitar, and I find in America I'm less shy about playing outrageous guitar parts, because I know everybody loves it. Whereas in England they think the guitar is a bit of an old-fashioned thing, and I have to do more synthy stuff.''
The Ozric Tentacles' new album, ``Waterfall Cities,'' is a nice blend of all that the band has done well over its past 18 albums, which makes it appealing to a wide cross-section of listeners. Rockers will gravitate to Wynne's guitar riffs; ravers will like the instrumental grooves; and, as Wynne says, stoners will space out to the dub workouts. Add to all that the album's heavy Eastern influences (twangy sitars and the like), and it's hard to imagine a demographic that wouldn't find something to like.
The band has found it amusing to watch different cultures react to the music. ``Every country has its own sort of thing, with the crowds,'' says Wynne. ``England, they are a bit cynical, but once they get going, they go absolutely mental. In Italy, they are just passionate about it. . . . In America, loads of people show up and are immensely enthusiastic after the show. Which is an American thing.''
Wynne says the whole thing has energized him and the band, and even though ``Waterfall Cities'' just came out, an album's worth of ideas for a 19th release are already swimming in his head. It's enough to make you wonder how much longer Ozric Tentacles can keep this up.
``I don't think anything goes on forever. But I was thinking about the same question maybe six or seven albums ago,'' says Wynne. ``I don't know. I think it's just going to carry on, really. I think it just carries on.''
Subject: Santa Cruz gig
The Ozric Tentacles Santa Cruz gig was one of the finest examples of live musicianship I have witnessed in a long time. Throughout the years, I have been to many shows by different bands; but this one was a refreshing change from the mundane concert experiences I have encountered in larger venues at almost three to four times the cost. The band was extremely tight, but were not hesitant to venture into the outer dimensions of the spatial musical soundscape. The concert was a beautiful collage of music and visuals, that really stimulated the senses. I found the music really cerebral, taking me to a different place and time in my head, while my feet were planted firmly on the floor. (or were they)?
Highlights for me were the excellent renditions of Eternal Wheel, Erpland, and White Rhino Tea. These songs, like all of Ozrics, are wonderfully reworked live. The vibe in Santa Cruz was awesome, which was apparently obvious not just with the crowd, but with the band, who looked right at home in this wonderful coastal haven. A pre-show conversation with John was very pleasant, in which he revealed to me of his feelings about California. California, to John, is very "spicy". Obviously, he must have had a taste of some of the fine Mexican cuisine, or perhaps he was referring to the inhabitants of the state. Who knows, but one thing is for sure, the Ozric Tentacles show at Palookaville was definitely SPICY!
Review of Ozric Tentacles
Fox Theater, Boulder, CO
Sat July 25th & Sunday July 26th
By: Dave Kirby/Boulder Weekly
(Note: This article did NOT appear in the above publication, however my preview of the show did – let me know if you're interested and I can send a copy to you. I wrote this review solely for your website…)
A barefoot John Egan stepped to the mike at one point during the Sunday show and expressed his and the band's delight at being back in Boulder, remarking on the beautiful locale and telling us how lucky we were to live here. Indeed, for the Ozric faithful, and most of the others who caught the band this weekend, our luck was having the bands for two nights, the only tour stop so distinguished with the exception of the NY Wetlands shows earlier this month which represented a metropolitan area about 20 time the size of Denver –Boulder.
Both triumph and bitter disappointment marked the band's last two trips through here. The 1994 show was cosmic, mind-bending and unexpectedly packed. I covered that show for another paper, and unless memory fails, I was the only writer in the area to preview the show. Nonetheless, the band's performance that night was outstanding, and I remember thinking, based on the audience response, that the Ozrics were on the verge of breaking through to large American audience – well, maybe not large, but larger.
Subsequently, though their latter Boulder date that year (was it 1995?) fell victim to a scheduling misunderstanding, they ended up playing one night earlier than had been promoted, I was lucky enough to catch that show, but a great many others missed out. Again, outstanding show, with noticeably thinner attendance.
Enough history, this year's model is in great form. Saturday's set was somewhat longer, with more extensive jamming and a heavier dose of Ed's buzzsaw guitaring. Sunday's show, overall, was a little more subdued, and somehow a little more confident. Rad seemed to run into some difficulty with his monitor about 30 minutes in during Sunday's show, and that gave Ed and Seaweed the opportunity to improvise a gorgeous little synth duet, space and melodic, five of that show's best minutes. The setlist was more or less the same both nights, including "Erpland", "Oddentity", "China Type", and a chest crushing "Sploosh", excellent both nights but positively breathtaking on Sunday. Sunday's show also included a (seemingly) last-minute inclusion of "Myriapod" (from "Arboresence"), furiously fast, letter-perfect and fun as hell.
I found the biggest surprise was the dirth of material from "Waterfall Cities", their beautiful, sprawling new record. They played stately and impressive versions of "Sultana Detrii" both nights, but I was hoping for the title cut or the hypnotic "Aura Borealis". Overall, I guess my impression was that they were basically playing longtime fan shows (out of habit?), so they relied heavily on older material – this would seem a dubious judgement, since a large segment of their American audience will have never seen them before and promoting a new album is a good way to both sell it and to demonstrate what the band is all about in 1999. I wonder what those who bought the album at the shows will think of it after taking it home and hearing a somewhat freer, more ethereal and more keyboard-focused Ozric than the guitar-focused band they saw live. Longtime fans like me were just happy to have the band in our midst, but I know we're all hopeful they can stir up a bigger fanbase stateside (thereby guaranteeing we won't have to wait another 5 years for their next US tour). Their setlist and pacing may be an interesting question to pose to Ed, how much did they alter or how much did they think about their setlist given their tenuous American following and the fact they haven't been here in so long. Was much of "Waterfall Cities" too studio-crafted to reliably reproduce onstage?
We'll give up second guessing them and simply say, the shows were excellent. Seaweed is a mad genius over his keyboards, controller and mixing board. Rad is a powerful drummer, a ridiculously hard worker and a guy who seems to listen carefully to the dynamics of the situation. The band is indescribably lucky to have him in back and I believe he can move this band into new territory. Ed's guitaring moves, at time, uncomfortably close to metal for my taste – a great deal of his fluency and grasp of subtlety is lost amidst the distortion, but this personal taste here. Others appreciate his tone and aggressiveness. Zia is a uniquely vibey bass player, deferential to throbbing and simple basslines, and he is a deceptively large part of the band's sound. John's whimsical stage antics are fun and an apporopriate visual foil – I wish they'd give him a little more room to play his flute.
If you're new to the band, hold on for a great experience. If you're a fan, enjoy. You know how good these guys are live, and if you've seen them live with Joie and Merv, you'll be pleasantly surprised by the new guys. If you're not sure whether or not to buy a ticket, sheesh, buy one. Special hi to Murph and his girlfriend from Arizona, who I met and talked to before Saturday's show. Hope you had fun…
The San Francisco Cronicle/Examiner.
Great American Music Hall
859 O'Farrell St.
San Francisco, CA 94115
With Star People.
The UK's Ozric Tentacles -- equipped with natty dreadlocks and whimsical Roger Dean-style album art-- is right out of the British free-festival/"New AgeTraveller" circuit. But British hippies are quite different from their American counterparts -- a penchant for LSD, batik and left-wingpolitics are just about the only things they have in common. Musically, the backwoods twang and easy groove of California-born psychedelia is in complete opposition tothe crunchy, flanged, guitar-thrashing, art-schoolmayhem of the UK's psychedelic tradition. So why is this band, Ozric Tentacles,which freely mixes the heavy space-rock of Hawkwind with a good dose of dub and Far Eastern mystique, so appealing to American jam-band boogie-bunnies? I can't figure it out.The music is way too far-out for the average Neville Brothers/Leftover Salmon fan. The guitar solos are too scary and blistering, there are no harmonies and no sunshiney lyrics, and the strong ambient/techno flavors should be down right repellent to jam-band aficionados. But the fact is, my tour head buddy -- the big Widespread Panic fan who just spent a week camping out in Colorado for that all-natural band's Red Rocks gig -- is totally pumped to see Ozric at the Fillmore (where they play in support of their newest album, "Waterfall Cities"), and I didn't even tell him about it. And they haven't played here in five years. Go figure! TheTentacles' rep for jaw-dropping, eye-buggin' psychedelia is breaking down barriers.
J. Wilson, SF Gate
The Opening Act for the July Tour : Star People