Album Reviews

1999 Ozric Tentacles Special

Reviews in this issue:

A Short History

Ozric Tentacles was formed at the Stonehenge festival in 1982 when the initial band members met around an open fire. The name evolved from a joke about imaginary breakfast cereals. In 1983 they started gigging in clubs, like The Crypt in London, and a second synth player and percussionist were added to the band. They also played all the major festivals after that, and six hour shows (!) were well within the bounds of probability.
During the eighties the band released no less than 6 fully instrumental tapes, plus an official outtake tape, issued under the guise of Noden Ictus. The first tape consisted of a selection of 14 pieces from the 84/85 period and was released in late 85 under the name Erpsongs. In 1986, no less than three tapes were released. Tantric Obstacles (15 new tracks), Live Ethereal Cereal (8 live recordings) and There is Nothing (14 new songs). The fifth cassette, Sliding Gliding Worlds, was released in 1988 and contained 15 new tracks. The last tape was a collection of 14 rarities and left-overs under the name The Bits Between the Bits.

In 1988 the band was invited by Hawkind's Dave Anderson to record their album debut in his studio and release it on his Demi Monde label a year later. This turned into Pungent Effulgent. This album was quickly followed by a second one called Erpland in 1990, a double LP released on their own Dovetail label on which Pungent Effulgent was re-released shortly after.
The band slowly started to attract a more mainstream audience. Executives played the CDs on their car stereo while younger kids, exhausted by the two note Techno of their generation, discovered the pleasant chill out properties of The Ozric's music. The band started to put more focus on the electronic side of their music, resulting in their third album in 1991, Strangeitude, which also featured their only single to date; Sploosh.
1991 also saw the release of a double CD with a collection of songs taken from the 6 cassette-only albums plus a couple of previously unreleased tracks; Afterswish. A live album called Live Underslunky was released in 1992. Most of the tracks on this album originated on the three studio albums. 1992 was also the year in which guitarist/keyboard player Ed Wynn set up his own recording studio in an old mill.

By 1993 Ozric Tentacles grossed over 3 million dollars, had their own label, mail order & distribution business, made shirts and produced their own music. The audience of the Ozrics had slighly changed from New Age hippies to a much wider cross-section of the music population. Although their next album, Jurassic Shift, certainly wasn't their best to date, it was extremely successful. The reason for this would probably be a mixture of coincidences. Besides the growing fan base the album title resembled the title of Spielberg's Jurassic Park movie - released in the same year - and it got even more publicity because of the first use of hemp in the (tree-free) LP sleeve and CD booklet; the first commercial use of such tree-free paper in the music industry. The album went straight to number 11 in the UK charts and sold over 50.000 copies.

In 1994 all the 6 cassette albums were re-released on CD, as well as in a box set called Vitamin Enhanced Ozric Tentacles, which was soon withdrawn because the Kellogs Company protested against the parody on their cereal packagings on the box set cover. After releasing three more studio albums, Aborescence (94), Become the Other (95) and Curious Corn (97) the band released a recording of a live Internet broadcast in 1998 called Spice Doubt Streaming. By this time only two guys of the original band, Ed Wynne (guitars & synths) and John Egan (flute and voices), remain. Some of the former members decided to put more time into Eat Static, a techno Ozric offshoot. Nevertheless, the band is still producing the same blend of styles they have done for 16 years now and plan to release their next album in the summer of 99. Besides that, remastered versions of Become the Other and Arborescence are planned for release in the spring of 1999.

So .... what's it like ?

Here's some descriptions I found while doing some research:
  • [The music] will move from intense high speed fusion, to incredible atmospheric electronic music to a track that could only be described as a prog bands answer to reggae.
  • The music is virtuosic keyboard/guitar rock, anchored with a strong drum-bass rhythm, improvisational at times, yet always strongly executed.
  • There are no lyrics and the focus is on the incredible, mind-blowing jams with distinct mid-eastern influences.
  • ... 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.
  • ... I'm not sure one needs to get more than one Ozric Tentacles album. The ones I have aren't distinctive enough (from each other) for me to even think about which one might be my favourite.
  • The sound owes as much to jazz, Asian musics and acid house as it does to straight-ahead rock.
  • In an age where so many bands fall into ready made categories already overflowing with their peers, the Ozric Tentacles stand their own. (...) unique blend of progressive ethnic-space-dance-jazz-rock (...)
  • Ozric Tentacles have formulated an updated strand of progressive rock for the rave generation, combining all the quirky melodrama and advanced musicianship of the 1970s fusion with the spacey, dance-floor Nirvana of the 90s.
  • (...) bucolic blend of progressive rock, English rural psychedelica meshed with umpteen strands of world music (...) Make no mistake, the Ozrics are a guitar band (well, they're a flute band too, but that's another story). A master of everything from the Eastern and esoteric through lissom reggae to electrifying fusion-widdle.
  • Finally, Ed Wynn himself:"People put all these words together to try and describe it, that's the weird thing. They might title it ethnic, psychedelic,space reggae, ambient, rocky, blah, blah, blah, you know. Who knows ? Music of the mind, armchair journey music or whatever. It is escapist in a way."
People have compared Ozric Tentacles to (early) Hawkind, Pink Floyd, Gong, Steve Hillage and even bands like King Crimson and Black Uhuru. Tracks can be divided into 'band-based' and 'sequencer-based' songs.

Enough about that all, let's have a look at six of the recent remastered re-released and two latest pieces of work by this band.

Pungent Effulgent

Country of Origin:UK
Record Label:Snapper Music
Catalogue #:SMMCD 545
Year of Release:1989
Info: Ozric Tentacles

Tracklist: Dissolution (The Clouds Disperse) (6.15), O-I (3.58), Phalarn Dawn (7.34), The Domes of G'Bal (4.36), Shaping the Pelm (6.08), Ayurvedic (10.57), Kick Muck (3.53), Agog in the Ether (4.05), Wreltch (8.31), Ayurvedism (19.03).

Dissolution has a nice start featuring electric guitar with delay effects. After a while the bass and drums join in and after two minutes the tempo increases and the whole changes into a more uptempo tune. This second part features a lot of electronic effects, guitar solo's as well as the only (spoken) vocals on the album ('Illumination, dissolution, devolution, evolution", etc). When the track nears the end it slowly gets more chaotic until it's over after six minutes. One of the highlights on the album.
O-I, a remake of a track which originally appeared on the There is Nothing cassette, has a rather funky bass line mixed with bits of flute. The song also features a synth solo, several wonderful breaks and lots of tempo changes into uptempo sections.
Phalarn Dawn starts peacefully with a slow continuing monotonous rhythm combined with some keyboard effects which together create a rather ambient sound. This track, in which nothing much happens, mainly leans on its drum and percussion rhythms. The flute sounds which give the track a more Asian feel can't make the track much more interesting. It shouldn't have been longer than half its seven and a half minutes, really.
The Domes of G'Bal starts with a keyboard intro which would not have been out of place on a Jean-Michel Jarre record, but soon to your surprise the track changes into a reggea rhythm. This is one of the splendid examples of the variety within the music of the Ozrics; reggae rhythms combined with electronical keyboard effects and guitar solos with a more Middle Eastern atmosphere !
Shaping the Pelm starts with electronical effects and an ethnical percussion rhythm. When the song starts to get quite boring a flute solo follows in the second half of the tune. Like Phalarn Dawn a rather forgetable track.
Ayurvedic is the longest track of the original album. After a minute of menacing keyboard effects a bass line starts which would not have been out of place on a Porcupine Tree album. Electric guitar picks up the same melody as the bass and the song slowly builds up. After a quiet intermezzo with flute and guitar the power of the track increases and the initial bass line melody returns. A short percussion solo and strange vocal babblings follow when the song suddenly changes into a reggea/dub like tune which fills the last 3 minutes of the song, which also feature a funky bass line and electronic and vocal effects and a rhythm guitar with echo effects. The band could have been slightly more creative in this second bit, but its still one of the best tracks on the album.
Kick Muck, originally from the Sliding Gliding Worlds cassette, immediatley brings a very different mood with it's agressive, sharp and quick lead guitar, followed by more Middle Eastern synth parts. The percussion on this one is stunning as well !
Agog in the Ether was fully written and performed while the band was high on mushrooms. Jungle sounds are mixed with flute and synth creating a musical wilderness. After about two minutes percussion and drums come in, playing a tribal rhythm. That's pretty much it.
Wreltch was the bonus track on the first CD release of this album. It originally appeared on the The Bits Between the Bits cassette. It starts with some experimenting on a xylophone-like synth. After 2 minutes the song suddenly changes into a rather free formed space rock song with an uptempo beat and lots of experimenting on synth and guitar. The recording quality of the track isn't as good as the rest of the album and the song's structure isn't either.

The bonus track Ayurvedsim is an extended live version of Ayurvedic. The tempo of the first part is a bit higher than on the original. The improvisations take place in the second (reggae) part of the song, where the band almost sounds like The Police for a while. There's lots of little changes in the bass line and weird sounds from the synths (even a strange chainsaw-like sound). The sound slowly builds to a climax where the reggae influences are exchanges for rock again.

Pungent Effulgent features some amazing tracks which you definitely have to hear (Dissolution, O-I, The Domes of G'Bal, Ayurvedic, Kick Muck) but also some less interesting stuff (Phalarn Dawn, Shaping the Pelm, Agog in the Ether, Wreltch) which lacks a good melody, hasn't got a melody at all or are just to long and boring.

The artwork is very nice with the band's wizard-like mascotte (the Pongmaster) in front of a landscape with psychadelic skyline.

The remastered version of the CD features one bonus track (Ayurvedsim) and extensive liner notes about the album. Instead of description of what the tracks sound like (I can tell for myself, thank you) I would have preferred some more information about this period of the band instead.

Conclusion: 8- out of 10.

Ed Sander


Country of Origin:UK
Record Label:Snapper Music
Catalogue #:SMMCD 554
Year of Release:1990
Info: Ozric Tentacles

Tracklist: Eternal Wheel (8:20), Toltec Spring (3:03), Tidal Convergence (7:14), Sunscape (4:02), Mysticum Arabicola (9:14), Crackerblocks (5:40), The Throbbe (6:21), Erpland (5:32), Valley of a Thousand Thoughts (6:32), Snakepit (3:18), Iscence (4:37), A Gift of Wings (9:46).

Erpland was originally released a a double album on vinyl. Since the playing time is almost 74 minutes already, this remaster doesn't feature any bonus tracks.

Eternal Wheel, a remake of a track originally released on the There is Nothing cassette, is a fanastic track where a synth intro is joined by one of those delicious Ozric bass lines and guitar. After lots of 6 string violence a quiet intermezzo with washes of keyboards calms you down again, but not for long because the powerful guitars and increasing tempo bring the power back in the song. This track could easily have been on a Porcupine Tree album.
Toltec Spring has a mysterious jungle feel to it which is enhanced by tribal rhythms and flute in the background. Fine mood music but not interesting enough to capture the attention of the listener.
Tidal Convergence is a whole different cup of tea; after an atmospheric soundscape of keyboards another bass line and drums take over. A great melody is shared by bass and guitar and after a quiet intermezzo follows a slightly Floydian guitar solo. Fine tune !
Sunscape is completely different again; it starts with acoustic guitar after which bass, drum and tambourine join in to introduce a flute solo. Part of this song has a sound comparable to the acoustic middle piece of Spock's Beard's The Doorway.
Mysticum Abricola is another song with an Eastern feel, enhanced by the use of acoustic guitar and flute. The background features weird sounds you would expect on an Arabian bazaar. After five and a half minutes the first razor sharp guitar solo follows. Great song with a stunning variety of instruments which would have been even better if it had been a bit more compact.
Crackerblocks is another long ambient piece which would be perfect to chill out to but misses the power of most of the other tracks on the album.
The Throbbe features - as was to be expected - a throbbing keyboard sound which sets the pace, together with a continous mid tempo drum rhythm. More Arabian murmerings and flute and electronical effects in the second half of the song. Another track which is a bit too monotonous and too long for my taste.
With the next song, Erpland, the band fortunately shows that they can do much better than that. Catchy and powerful bass lines, lots of tempo changes. It's the opposite of the previous track; Erpland is a tune with loads and loads of variation ! The melodies could have been a bit better but the whole thing, which by the way stops rather abruptly, certainly is impressive.
Valley of a Thousand Thoughts is quite comparable to Tidal Convergence in all ways. Ozric Tentacles seem to produce two kinds of songs. On one hand there's the marvellous energetic tracks with lots of variation which grab you by the troat and force you to listen and enjoy. On the other hand there's the ambient tracks which work well as background music but just miss the strength to keep the attention of the listener.
Snakepit has an Asian atmosphere again with strong bass lines, acoustic guitar and flute intermezzo.
Something we hadn't had on this album yet: reggae rock. And it arrives in the form of Incense, which even has vocals. Not one of the highlights of the album but fun nevertheless.
A Gift of Wings is the last and longest track on the album. After one and a half minute of eerie atmospheric keyboards sounds percussion comes in and the melody is picked up again. Another track with an Eastern of Asian feel which reminds me of Pink Floyd's Obscured by Clouds/When You're In a bit. The song leans on keyboard and guitar solo's which never really dominate but support the overall mood. After solo's by percussion, a sitar-like instrument, guitar and flute the song ends. This track probably would have fitted quite well on Peter Gabriel's Passion album.

The artwork is nice again; a atmospheric landscape with the Pongmaster present in the margins. The inside of the booklet features liner notes and a two page spread of small pictures and a kaleidoscopic drawing.

Although not all of the tracks are interesting, this album is slightly better than Pungent Effulgent.

Conclusion: 8+ out of 10.

Ed Sander


Country of Origin:UK
Record Label:Snapper Music
Catalogue #:SMMCD 546
Year of Release:1991
Info: Ozric Tentacles

Tracklist: White Rhino Tea (5:55), Sploosh (6:24), Saucers (7:30), Strangeitude (7:29), Bizarre Bazaar (4:04), Space Between Your Ears (7:46), Live Throbbe (7:16), Weirditude (5.11).

White Rhino Tea, a remake of a track from the Sliding Gliding Worlds cassette, starts out in much the same way as Eternal Wheel on the Erpland album with a combination of guitar and electronic effects. Great keyboard solo's, powerful percussion, lots of breaks. There might not be a real Rhino in this track but there certainly is an elephant ! A fine opening track with lots of variations.
The next song, Sploosh was actually released on single and was also used in a BMW advertising campaign. It doesn't feature any real guitar or bass but has been fully created by synths and other electronics. There are loads of weird sound effects which give the feel of dripping water in underground caverns. The pace of the song is set by a throbbing keyboard which reminds me of Mike Oldfield's Evacuation from the Killing Fields soundtrack. It's a nice track which could have been slightly shorter as far as I'm concerned.
Saucers has a Spanish feel to it created by acoustic guitars. A flute supports the whole melody. Great track.
The name Strangeitude fits the next track very well. The song starts with synths that create a weird Middle Eastern atmosphere while humming menacing keyboards support them. After 3 minutes the song changes completely. Strange voice effects are added as well as percussion (which sounds like a drum computer to me). More weird babbling follows and the drumming gets more powerful (this might be a real drum kit). As with Sploosh there are no bass or electric guitars in this track.
Bizarre Bazaar starts with acoustic guitar and a powerful bass line. A flute quickly picks up the melody. This uptempo song features some electric guitar solo's as well.
Space Between Your Ears isn't a real reggae song but does feature some dub influences and a mid tempo beat in the first half. The weird chain-saw like noice which was used on Ayurvedism can be heard shortly in this track as well and the electric guitar creates growling and howling noises. Halfway through the song the tempo increases when drums and bass speed up. Eastern flute sounds are added and the tempo increases even further until the song proceeds as a very uptempo tune. Guitar sounds get sharper and more raw as well.
Live Throbbe is a live version of The Throbbe from Erpland and only slightly more interesting than the original. It was used as the B-side for the Sploosh single and added on the first CD issue of Strangeitude as a bonus track.
The bonus track of the remasted edition on this album is another live song called Weirditude. This isn't an alternative version of the title track, as you might expect, but a completely different and rather rare song. It was originally on a compilation cassette with track by othr bands which was given away at a gig at The Kilburn National in London on the 17th of December 1993. It's a very uptempo song with emphasis on electronic (voice) effects and guitar.

Compared to the previous two albums, Strangeitude has even more focus on synths and electronic effects, with two tracks (Sploosh and Strangeitude) even being played by these instruments only. Some people have even said that this album was the closest the band ever came to producing a dance album. The album still features enough of the wonderful Ozric style though in songs like White Rhino Tea, Saucers and Bizarre Bazaar.

The booklet once again features extensive liner notes by Richard Allen, this time focusing on both the tracks and the historical period of the album. The artwork isn't as good as on other Ozric albums. The cover shows a scene in space where trees row out of trees, grow out of trees, etc. The inside of the booklet also has a two page picture of the band. The back cover features a nice drawing of the Pongmaster staring in amazement at a very weird sculpture.

Conclusion: 8- out of 10.

Ed Sander

Jurassic Shift

Country of Origin:UK
Record Label:Snapper Music
Catalogue #:SMMCD 547
Year of Release:1993
Info: Ozric Tentacles

Tracklist: Sunhair (5:43), Stretchy (6:51), Feng Shui (10:24), Half Light in Thillai (5:35), Jurassic Shift (11:05), Petranodon (5:40), Train Oasis (2:45), Vita Voom (4:48), Fens Shui Live (10.55).

Sunhair is very heavy on the synth side and later on features sharp guitar solos, resembling tracks like Eternal Wheel. Very Ozric, but also not very renewing. There's no real tempo or melody changes in this one.
Stretchy is another uptempo song with dominance by the keyboards. There are more ethnic influences in a break which takes place after about two minutes, followed by a guitar solo. Not a real stunning piece.
Fens Shui starts very ambient and soundscape-ish before proceedings with a reggae rhythm. After that the track just carries on for ages without really becoming very interesting at any time. Just endless streams of electronic effects. However, after 8 minutes the track suddenly changes into a punk/heavy metal influences chaos which isn't really pleasant to listen to. After that a couple of interesting chord progressions follow after which the track suddenly stops.
Half Light in Thillai is another one of the quiet, ambient pieces with ethnic percussion, weird chanting far in the background and keyboard soundscapes. Fortunately an acoustic guitar adds a bit more depth to the song, which is too monotonous and long for my taste.
The title track, Jurassic Shift, has a more prominent but rather simple bass line and a more jazz-fushion feel to it and also remembers me of those long jams Pink Floyd used to do in the early seventies (remember the original version of On the Run ?). The emphasis is on the guitar which jams along the basic track for 5 minutes. After a rather long keyboard intermezzo with Arabian influences of two and a half minutes, the tempo increases an sharp guitar and flute solos accompanied by bubbling electronic effects follow. During the last minute the pace of the song slows down again. Although 11 minutes seems a bit long, this might just be the most interesting track on the album.
Petranodon features a slow rhythm and a pumping bass in the background. Strange babbling and electronic effects introduce a guitar solo. The song continues for almost 6 minutes, with only an interesting percussion solo adding something extra, and then suddenly stops. Completely forgetable track.
Train Oasis is a very short track which could have been even shorter as far as I'm concerned since it hardly features any interesting music.
Vita Voom sounds more straighforward and less cluttered than other tracks on the album. It has a catchy bass/guitar line and a nice 'chorus' melody. The track also features weird electronic effects and flute. One of the more interesting tracks on this very mediocre album.
The bonus track on this remastered edition is a live version of Feng Shui which adds nothing to the original.

The bass is much further 'down in the mix' than on previous Ozric albums and the synths are very prominent. The melodies aren't as good as on other albums and the tracks go on quite long without real variation. The songs miss the variety of the other albums and don't leave the same impression as their previous work. And the things we hear have already been heard before.
Maybe if the band didn't have to rush against a deadline to finish this album while they were still fine-tuning their recording studio, the album would have been much better.
Still much better than some of the other stuff which is out in the market, but certainly not one of the most recommended Ozric albums. For die-hard only.

The artwork features a nice drawing of the Pongmaster walking through water on bubbles, while the booklet contains a rather dodgy picture of the band live on stage.

Conclusion: 7- out of 10.

Ed Sander

Curious Corn

Country of Origin:UK
Record Label:Snapper Music
Catalogue #:SMACD 502
Year of Release:1997
Info: Ozric Tentacles

Tracklist: Spyroid (3:47), Oolite Grove (5:57), Afroclonk (8:06), Curious Corn (10:56), Oddentity (7:00), Papyrus (5:32), Meander (5:13).

Spyroid starts with a sequencer, after which the whole song builds on drums and electronic effects. Nice short song but nothing stunning.
Oolite Grove is a more laid back, slightly bluesy kind of song with the emphasis on the guitar. After a while there's a break with a powerful bass line followed by guitar with echo effect. The tempo increases and more keyboards are added. The laid back beginning and guitar are repeated at the end of the song. Lots of varitation in this one !
Afroclonk starts with a swinging xylophone-like melody and flute-like synths. After a rather long intro of 2 minutes there's a break in which an ethnic instrument - which I seem to recognise as an Aboriginal horn - is used. The tempo increases but after four and a half minutes the music stops and slowly the xylophone melody returns. Guitars start to get sharper and after 5 and a half minutes the rhythm is picked up again. The whole continues with some added electronic effects until the end of the song.
Curious Corn features a bass line played by a synth. Guitar solo's are combined with a monotonous rhythm. After four minutes there's a break with a soundscape of atmospheric keyboards. What follows are electronic effects, distorted guitar, percussion and ethnic flute sounds. After ten minutes the song stops with dreamy keyboards. This track is a bit too long and monotonous for my taste.
Oddentity starts with a pumping bass line and a play between guitar and keyboards where the latter answer the melody played by the first. There's a break again, with an emphasis on drums and percussion. Eastern sounds from the keyboards. After some more breaks the song ends with a slowly fading bass line.
Papyrus is definitely one of the best songs on the album. The song has a catchy rhythm and guitars which bring a slightly Egyptian feel to the song. Nice breaks and a prominent bass. The guitar melody is taken over by the keyboards later on. The drums and percussion on this number are really phenomenal.
Meander starts out as an average techno trance song, but just before you start to get bored with the whole thing there's a sudden change. Powerful drumming, a dark low humming bass keyboard and Spanish guitar change the whole feel of the song.

Curious Corn is not one of the best albums of the band, but nevertheless contains a couple of nice tracks. Worth checking out but not as one of your first Ozric purchases.

The album has a nice cover (slightly Roger Dean-ish), several (live) band pictures in the 6 page booklet and a drawing of the Erpman by guitarist Ed. There aren't any extensive liner notes in the booklet (this CD is not one of the remasters).

Conclusion: 8- out of 10.

Ed Sander

Spice Doubt Streaming

Country of Origin:UK
Record Label:Streaming
Catalogue #:160032
Year of Release:1998
Info: Ozric Tentacles

Tracklist: Cat DNA (8:11), Eternal Wheel (9:31), Sploosh (7:04), Ahu Belahu (2:46), Papyrus (6:30), Oolite Grove & Citadel Jam (10:28), Oddentity (7:22), Dissolution (10:08), Myriapod (5:48), Spice Doubt (9:43).

Spice Doubt Streaming was the first thing I ever heard of the Ozrics. Having heard of them but never having heard them, I was pleasantly surprised by the versatile music. The album contains the recording of their performance in the Cyclops Studios in the Bay area in June 1998. The show was simultaneously broadcasted on the Internet.

After the quiet, somewhat Floydian beginning of Cat DNA the track changes into an uptempo song with amazing heavy guitar, lots of breaks and keyboard solo's. And if that's not enough for you, what about a drummer who goes totally beserk ? Marvellous work.
Eternal Wheel, one of my favourite Ozric tracks, taken from Erpland, is the second song on the album. A fine live version.
After the guitar violence of the previous two songs the electronic weirdness of Sploosh is a nice change. In contrast with the original from Strangeitude, this live version does contain guitar which makes it (in my opinion) much better.
The watery noises of Sploosh continue with the short ambient track Ahu Belahu full of eerie electronic effects, ethnic percussion and Eastern flute in the background. The good thing about this track is that it's quite short and compact and calms you down before the band kicks off with another energetic tune.
Papyrus is slightly longer than the original on Curious Corn and the dark bass line of Oolite Grove of the same album is even used for an improvisation called Citadel Jam, containing a quiet, free-formed part with some Floydian influences.
Oddentity is not a song I would have chosen for the live performance since it's a bit too long an slightly boring for my taste.
A heavy version of Dissolution features an extended delayed guitar intro (remember Run Like Hell ?). Myriapod is another fast, heavy track with the emphasis on guitar, bass and electronic effects. It was re-performed after the actual web broadcast because it went off into an extended jam after Ed made a mistake in the intro.
Spice Doubt starts slowly, quitely and atmospherically and features a mysterious keyboard melody in the beginning which builds in volume. Bass drum and bass guitar come in, but the track does not feature any guitars. It sounds like a spontaneous improvisation. The song ends with some vocal effects.

The album packaging is rather simple with only some minor liner notes and credits. The artwork includes a lot of fish swimming around and the print on the CD actually has .... tentacles !
Spice Doubt is not a reference to the Spice Girls but a word play on 'spaced out'. The subtitle 'A Gig in the Ether' is a pun on the track Agog in the Ether from Pungent Effulgent.
The album is a nice collection of some of the best work of the Ozrics played live. Although the emphasis lies on their previous studio album Curious Corn with three songs (Oolite Grove, Oddentity and Papyrus), theres also material from Pungent Effulgent (Dissolution), Erpland (Eternal Wheel), Strangeitude (Sploosh), Arborescence (Myriapod) and Become the Other (Cat DNA and Ahu Belahu). The album features both the more 'rock orientated' material as well as the sequencer/electronics stuff. Unfortunately there's not a lot of flute on this album and there's none of the reggae tunes, which would have made this record a perfectly representative album.

Because of the nice mixture, as well as the marvellous live performance this would be my highest recommendation to people who are not familiar with the Ozrics yet. Try this disc and take it from there. The album is a 'limited edition', so you'd better try to find one quick.

Conclusion: 9- out of 10.

Ed Sander


Writing this Ozric Tentacles special was one of the toughest things I've ever done for DPRP. I knew absolutely nothing about the band when I got no less than 7 CDs thrown at me by those wonderful folks at Snapper Music. I was pleaseantly surprised when I heard the music. First thing I did was do some research and I found an amazing source of information at Mike Werning's Ozric Tentacles Web Site. It's definitely recommended for those who want to know more about the band and features interviews, articles, sound clips and video footage and lots more.
After working through this whole load of information I was comfortable enough with the band's background to write the article. Reviewing the Ozric CDs was even more difficult. It's quite hard to describe their kind of music and writing something about fully instrumental albums is always a pain in the tentacle. One by one I reviewed the CDs and although I liked the music a lot, I do have to agree with the person who said that you probably wouldn't need all Ozric albums. Although their sound got more professional and advanced through the years and the line-up changed a lot, their music did not. As a result, reviewing more than one Ozric Tentacles CD at the same day would probably not do the music justice, because in the end you might get slightly bored with the same music all the time.
So to be honest, most people would indeed be best off with one or two Ozric records (judging from what I've heard Erpland and Spice Doubt Streaming would be good choices). If you are really into the music you might try one of the other albums, because it's remarkable stuff nevertheless.

In a future review special we hope to discuss the albums Afterswish, Aborescence and Become the Other.

Ed Sander

Album Reviews