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Ozric Tentacles - Jurassic Shift CD (album) cover


Ozric Tentacles


Psychedelic/Space Rock

4.14 | 488 ratings

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3 stars Trippy-ish, but thin

Often considered the best Ozrics studio album, Jurassic Shift is at least enjoyable all the way through, and it is the studio album of theirs that I have listened to the most (hence this review). Like other Ozrics albums from this period, the music is instrumental and feels like it was recorded live in the studio. When they are at their best, they sound like (Daevid Allen's) Gong improvising live in the 1970s, which is why their live albums are generally their most musical, as they get to stretch out and improvise onstage. However, they emerged in the early 1990s during the early rave scene and their music is also clearly targeted to that audience. So, most of the tracks have a repetitive beat/lick set to a programmed bass line that are meant for getting people dancing, and musically these pieces are thin, they generally do not go anywhere. They might start or end with some interesting noises, and contain some interesting beats, but most of the pieces just repeat that beat or pattern for the entire song in one key and then end. I wish there were something additional to maintain interest, whether solos, melodies, vocals, changing time signatures, or key changes. Indeed, there are few real solos to speak of (a couple of the Gong-like tracks have short guitar or synth solo-like breaks, but they last maybe 15 or 20 seconds, and are not developed to their potential), and all but the title track is in a fairly straight 4/4 beat (the title track moves between 4/4 and 6/8). There are no vocals, which is fine, but that means there needs to be something else to add musicality to the repetitive beats. For the most part, this is done with textures made by synths, whether synth washes or sequencers, or the occassional flute-synth lines, but in most cases these can't make these tunes worth listening to more than once or twice for their own sake (although it makes a fine background music for parties). The best tracks on this album are the title track ("Jurassic Shift") and the closer ("Vita Voom") - those are the songs with some real guitar playing and sufficient improvisation, and good drumming, for continued listening. After this, the opener ("Sun Hair") is a nice tune with an interesting synth sequence that actually has chord changes, while second track ("Stretchy") has a memorable synth-based main theme, so both are enjoyable but nonetheless pretty thin. My version of the album has both the studio version and also a live version of "Feng Shui", which starts with nice flute notes, and has a quirky repeated dancehall (4/4) beat, but unfortunately no solos, just 10 minutes of synth noises over the same bass line. There is a cool acoustic guitar theme that reappears occasionally in the fourth track "Half Light in Thilla", but it is more like a tease, with the song fading out before anywhere realizing its potential. "Pteranodon" and "Train Oasis" are, again, enjoyable, but thin musically and too repetitive. On the whole, some nice background music for a house party, but really only two standout tracks. I give this album 6.8 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which translates to 3 PA stars.

Walkscore | 3/5 |


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