As a mastering engineer I listen to a lot of music, I love my work, it’s what I do with my life and I have no regrets whatsoever. However at the end of the day I need to rest and being a music lover it causes the dilemma of what music to listen to. When I work the listening is both with an ear for the artistic elements of the music and the purely technical as I make decisions on the tone to ensure the music translates well to all reproduction systems.But for relaxing I tend to like a fairly wide range of genres but there is only one band of which I can truly call myself a fan. Ozric Tentacles have helped my mind calm down after a days work in the studio for a the best part of 2 years. After a 10 year period of having the CD’s on the shelf I started to listen to their music again and I am so pleased I did.I first encountered them back in 1990 in a record shop in Camden Town London. Intrigued by the colorful CD/Vinyl artwork and even more colorful sounds that was the start of what was to be a very long musical listening journey.
The band was born of the festival circuit way back in the early 1980’s and they have had a rich and interesting path of growth since then. It is said that the bands name was invented when discussing potential names for fictitious breakfast cereals.With 28 albums under their belt they are a very long running band. The line up has changed numerous times with members coming and going but the core values remain the same. Uncompromising musicianship, excitement and a listen like nothing you have ever heard before. Still gigging, still releasing albums and still gaining respect and new open ears. Ozrics have certainly been successful with their music despite keeping control of exactly the sound they wanted. A true underground band that has preserved their values whilst navigating the music industry.
Ozrics are a unique band loosely being categorized within the ‘prog rock’ genre , however the scope of their music is immense and prog rock does not do it credit. The lead guitarist Ed Wynne said the band was “Space Rock” which is as close as a defining category could get. However space rock also gives a somewhat modest impression.The fact is the music is highly produced, complex, arranged with skill and precision and features musicianship and technical skill as good as any you are likely to hear anywhere.
Ozric Tentacles music spans rock, jazz, ambient, ethnic, dance, synthesizer and reggae. It has to be heard to be appreciated so I can whole hearted recommend them as an antidote to any well worn musical paths. Tracks vary between synthesizer based or guitar based. (with both almost always featuring) Some albums favoring sequenced electronic percussion and some the sound of various great drummers who have worked in the band.The music is so listenable I will often play a cd whilst doing my invoicing and it makes the perfect accompaniment to ease away a monotonous task. I have put together a short list of tracks as a primer for someone who has yet to hear the band. Whether you are a guitarist or synthesizer player, admirer of guitar hero like playing, worshipper of synthesizer players you are almost certainly going to find something you will like. If you like the music, great I am only too pleased to have introduced them to you, and if not give it a little while I am sure they will grow on you and at least you now know about a very important UK originating underground band.
So enough words, have a listen for yourself, some suggested tracks….
Slinky, beautifully relaxed, ambient and melodic.
Tidal Convergence, early Ozrics, nothing less than a 7 minute deep musical journey.
Oolong Oolong, down tempo relaxed track with Ed Wynne blowing you away with expressionate guitar work.
Pyramidion, uplifting, up tempo music to re-vitalize.
Space Base, more uplifting music and undeniably incredible guitar work.
Waterfall City, as intense as any track Ozrics Tentacles have produced.
These tracks really just scratch the surface, if you are liking these sounds then there is plenty more related music, notably Nodens Ictus and The Ullulators. So dig in, dig deep and enjoy, this band has a huge catalogue of music and it warrants serious investigation.
Barry Gardner operates SafeandSound online mastering.