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Ozric Tentacles - Erpland  CD (album) cover

ERPLAND

Ozric Tentacles

 

Psychedelic/Space Rock

4.01 | 216 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Fight Club
Prog Reviewer
5 stars I first heard of these guys a few years back when I read about them in a magazine. They were really recommended for fans of Porcupine Tree, who I was just getting into at the time. So after some extensive digging I was able to acquire their '93 album, Jurassic Shift. Unfortunately, at the time it didn't quite hit me. It seemed very random and meandering for much too long a period of time. The spacey aspects I love were all there, but I just couldn't get into it. It wasn't until I later picked up Erpland that I really fell in love with these guys. Since then I have grown to love Jurassic Shift and a number of their other albums.

Ozric Tentacles have a highly unique sound that I have not seen mimiced by many other bands (Hidria Spacefolk is the only one I can think of off the top of my head). The sound is highly electronic, though makes extensive use of Ed Wynne's shredding guitar skills. A unique sound likem this is something I believe most prog fans look for an electronic music. The combination of sweeping soundscapes, virtuostic guitar, extended composition and solos, and a blend of various styles is what makes this band so progressive.

The electronic part

I'm a huge fan of electronic music, and in my opinion Ozric Tentacles are the best representation of what electronic music should be. The main problem I find with electronica is it often makes a song from only 3 ideas and doesn't have much variety. However, I love the feelings and emotions created by it. Electronica can often be a very beautiful form of music, which makes up for its lack in variation. Then Ozric Tentacles come along. These guys have all the aspects of a typical electronica artist: Synths, sampling, programming, effects, spacey keyboards, and powerful bass. There is the usual lush layering of psybient influenced keyboards with arpeggiated synth pads and programmed drumbeats, but the great thing is though that they use MUCH more variety than your typical electronica artist. The songs progress from one section to another and often change tempo and sometimes even time signatures. It's more than the average ambient artist you'd hear on internet radio.

The progressive rock part

There are many prog influences to be found here, most notably those of space rock and krautrock, Pink Floyd, Hawkwind, and Steve Hillage being among them. The compositions are tightly crafted, but at times are also based around jamming, usually dominated by sailing guitar licks. As I said before there are many tempo changes and the songs sometimes even use time signatures other than 4/4. Have you ever heard any techno artist using anything but a pulsating 120 beat per minute song in 4/4? Not too often. Most of their songs are also often in highly unusual middle eastern modes not typically heard in this style of music. It really is quite progressive in a sense.

About the music?

Trippy. This is about as trippy as music can get. Their album covers actually display the visualization created by the music quite well. Usually a very atmospheric looking jungle landscape. With the multiple layers of percussion and synth effects, I often find myself feeling as if I'm on a journey through an ancient mystical jungle. It's sound dominated by a psychedelic tornado of pounding basslines and loads of various sound effects. A prog fan can clearly appreciate the strong composition and rich textures while most people could even dance to the guitar work. There are all kinds of instruments used in their work including everything ranging from flutes to xylophones. As for individual songs? In my opinion some of the best the Ozrics have ever written.

"Eternal Wheel", which has grown to become one of my favorite Ozric tunes, begins the album with a looping synth intro that is soon joined by those signature hopping bass and guitar lines. After quite some chaotic jamming the soon soon progresses into a section completely dowsed in relaxing keyboard. All this feels very spiritual and enlightening, like you're under a mystic Japanese waterfall. This is the kind of music that just makes me love being alive.

All of the songs range from mysterious tribal moods to atmospheric soundscapes and driving rock. It's quite a journey of an album, but as much as I love it there's still probably some things that would turn people off.

The average person may not have the attention span for this music. At the times the band can seem to jam for hours without moving onto a carefully written out section. Of course I doubt us prog fans will have a problem with this, but I've noticed my friends becoming tired with it at times. The album is utterly immersed in different effects and can feel kind of random at times. This is how I felt when I first listened to Jurassic Shift. Honestly though, after a few listens this doesn't seem to be a problem anymore. Another thing is the lack of vocals. If you're the type of person who tends to love lyrics this won't appeal to you much considering the Ozrics are entirely instrumental. Also, while this album may have an extreme amount of variation for an ambient music fan, it may not vary enough for a prog fan. If you're used to the Ozrics style, there is nothing innovative or new on this album, as they reuse the sound they've held for so long. It's a great starting point for those who are new to the band though.

Except for only a few uninteresting tracks that seem to drag this album is almost flawless. Psychedelic music does not get much better than this my friends (except for Jurassic Shift, which IMO is actually a superior album). It's got everything from the driving basslines and drum beats to the electronic instrumentation found so often in psychedelia. Moods ranges from relaxing and ethereal to the frantic and intense. Many of the songs feature complex arrangements with frequently changing time and key signatures and tempos. Though it may not be a "perfect" masterpiece, if this doesn't deserve five out of five stars in the psychedelic and space rock genre I can't tell you what does.

My rating: 9/10

Fight Club | 5/5 |

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