OZRIC TENTACLES – ‘LOTUS UNFOLDING’ (KSCOPE) ACID ROCK
REVIEWED BY: THE ROCK ‘N’ ROLL PREACHER
I am absolutely thrilled to share my unwavering admiration for the remarkable journey that is the Ozric Tentacles’ musical odyssey. My personal connection with this band goes way back, back to the days when I was young, free-spirited, and deeply entrenched in the vibrant tapestry of the free festival scene. It was in 1985/86 that I first embraced the sounds of Ozric Tentacles, immersing myself in their early tapestry of sonic wonders: ‘Erpsongs,’ ‘Tantric Obstacles,’ ‘Live Ethereal Cereal,’ ‘There Is Nothing,’ and ‘Sliding Gliding Worlds.’ From that moment onward, my allegiance was sealed, and I’ve remained a dedicated fan ever since, attending countless live performances that have left indelible marks on my soul.
I must confess that, for a period, it felt as though the band was coasting along, stretching from the recording of ‘The Floor’s Too Far Away’ up to the creation of ‘Space For The Earth.’ Even when I delved into Ed Wynne’s solo album, ‘Shimmer Into Nature,’ it appeared as though he had reserved his most potent musical treasures for himself. However, let me be clear—what I refer to as an “indifferent” Ozrics album still outshines many heavy metal counterparts. I hold the band in the highest regard, and it was with ‘Space For The Earth’ that they appeared to find their footing once more, their musical vision reinvigorated and redefined.
Now, in the year 2023, we are graced with a fresh Ozric Tentacles lineup: Ed Wynne, the virtuoso mastermind behind guitars, keyboards, samples, koto, bass, fretless bass, and drum programming; Silas Neptune, the wizard of keyboards, synthesizers, guitar, samples, and saz; Brandi Wynne, who contributes her exceptional talents on bass and keyboards; and Tim Wallander, the rhythmic force behind drums and percussion. Together, they have gifted us with the brand-new studio album ‘Lotus Unfolding.’
This extraordinary release comprises a mere six tracks: ‘Storm In A Teacup,’ ‘Deep Blue Shade,’ ‘Lotus Unfolding,’ ‘Crumplepenny,’ ‘Green Incantation,’ and ‘Burundi Spaceport.’ While six songs may not seem like a substantial album, these compositions are nothing short of epic, resulting in a captivating and immersive 50+ minute journey.
Now, let’s dive into the heart of the matter—what does ‘Lotus Unfolding’ sound like? It is quintessentially Ozric, an unmistakable signature sound that defies easy categorization. “Swirly” comes to mind, though I concede it’s not the most illuminating description. The music, entirely instrumental, envelops you in its groovy, free-flowing embrace. It’s a bass-driven tapestry, with layers of pulsating synthesizers, fluid and spiraling guitars that reach celestial heights, and a groove-infused, trippy drum foundation that underpins the entire sonic voyage.
In essence, picture the transcendent fusion of Gong, The Mahavishnu Orchestra, Tim Wheater, and Nik Turner, all collaborating under the influence of some cosmic elixir. Yet, paradoxically, it doesn’t quite do justice to compare them to others because they are a truly unique musical entity.
I must share a personal anecdote to emphasize the captivating nature of their music. While my coordination leaves much to be desired—I confess to having three left feet—I once found myself, (after an evening of *coughs* ‘interviewing the band’ – while smoking ‘herbal cigarettes’ and other imbibing other natural ‘foodstuffs’) allegedly engaged in what could loosely be termed as ‘interpretive dancing’ during one of their sets. But let’s swiftly move on from that reminiscence.
‘Lotus Unfolding’ is a collection of exquisite, free-flowing compositions. It’s akin to the experience of a pristine stream lazily meandering through a sun-kissed field on a tranquil, drowsy day. To truly appreciate the music, all you need to do is dip your feet into its sonic waters, allowing the melodies to wash over you and transport you to otherworldly realms. It may sound whimsical, but it’s an authentic way to connect with their artistry. So, don’t resist it; let the music bask your senses in its warmth, just as the sun bathes your body and the pure water soothes your soul. Yes, I admit, I carry a bit of the old hippy spirit in me—embrace it.
While I apologize if this review doesn’t delve into technical intricacies, it’s important to remember that Ozric Tentacles is no ordinary band. Attempting to dissect their magic in clinical terms would be an exercise in futility. Almost four decades into their illustrious career—yes, time does fly—the Ozrics continue to blaze their own trail, unapologetically staying true to their artistic vision. They hold a special place in the pantheon of musical legends, akin to The Grateful Dead, Hawkwind, Tangerine Dream, Acid Mothers Temple, and Frank Zappa. They are not merely a band; they are a way of life, an unwavering force of musical nature. You either “get” them or you don’t, and if you find yourself in the latter category, I can’t help but pity you—for you are missing out on something truly, eternally, and undeniably cool.