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Ozric Tentacles - Waterfall Cities CD (album) cover


Ozric Tentacles


Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.86 | 202 ratings

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4 stars Ed and company close out the 20th Century with the Ozrics' 13th release of cosmic otherworldliness.

1. "Coily" (7:19) a nice driving effort by the bass and drums rhythm section is spoiled by one of my least favorite synth sounds (like a saw) and equally abrasive edge to the guitar sound of choice. Pleasing melodies seem to be far from the band's minds as they just plunge forward with more mathematical "Egyptian" lines and sounds (including John Egan's flute). While I appreciate the effort to try to "re-"create possible ancient musical sounds and melodies, I still think most humans appreciate something they can connect with more than things esoteric. (13/15)

2. "Xingu" (7:27) a much better opening with Ed's mesmerizing heavily-flanged guitar-sounding synth line winning me over from the start. The second line, however, is just a bit too weird, but then the Lebanese synth wash makes up for it. The soft and sustained synth lines over the steady rhythm track and intermittent quick-descending cartoon arpeggio in the second half is okay. (13.125/15) 3. "Waterfall City" (11:03) this is the kind of music that Ozrics is all about: space trekking at hyperspeeds, encountering weird creatures, systems, and phenomenon while cruising around the outer edges of ours and other universes. I love the "calm, peaceful" section in the sixth and seventh minutes as the starship continues to cruise at speeds just under the speed of light--which is then followed by an awesome frog belching Tiesto house rave section before finally closing out. My favorite song on the album. A great OT song! (18.75/20)

4. "Ch'ai?" (5:03) the title's Chinese reference is definitely in order for this song despite the similarity to some of Pat Metheny's music in the sound and rhythmic choices. I actually love the syncopated, stop-and-go nature of this track's flow--minus the funk-bass lines dominating the third minute. Ed's guitar seers in the fourth minute on a level that is both old and new despite the funk-Chinese stuff going on beneath. Then we're back to Charlie Chan soundtrack music for the final 80 seconds. Another top three song for me. (9/10)

5. "Spiralmind" (11:40) despite the presence of plenty of swirling, spiralling synths, this is the song that sounds most representative of an advanced civilization's urban waterfall problem (or blessing). The synth lines sounds a lot like something off of Jurassic Shift, but the bass and acoustic guitar play are more funk and world music oriented. Ed is so in tune with bassist Zia Geelani's extraordinary work here. Work like this makes the band worthy of comparisons to top notch jazz fusion bands like Al Di Meola-era RETURN TO FOREVER. My other top three song. (18.5/20)

6. "Sultana Detrii" (9:17) Just when the grooves of three great space/world songs in a row were starting to lull me into high flattery and lure me into mega-fandom, the band has to remind me that they always reserve one song per album to the praise of Jamaica's #1 export: man! the most boring and homogeneously type-cast musical style of all (yes, even more than Gregorian chant). Luckily, the band moves to Honduran and Gamelan edges to blend into (or even supplant) the Rastafarian tradition enough to win me back. (I am NOT a fan of Reggae music--and even less so of cocky pretenders and usurpers). (17.5/20)

7. "Aura Borealis" (5:40) a Korg Wave Station put to great use! Me likey! Around 2:20 the music goes more solo funk synth as drummer Conrad Prince continues to dance around his cymbals and hi-hat, but then synths start to multiple and branch out, filling the soundscape before taking time for some soloing and, eventually, slowing down and shutting down. Kind of cool! (8.875/10)

Total Time: 57:29

I've never heard how or why Ed Wynne and company found such a draw to Middle Eastern instrumental sounds and melody lines (maybe hanging out too much in falafel and tabouli restaurants) but it often gets a little old. I love the jungle sounds and "other worldly"spacier stuff better.

Their sound is great, their musicianship has never been better (especially from the bass department), and their unique formula has never been tighter. Perhaps that's why this album earns the fourth-highest ratings score of the ten OT albums I've reviewed.

B+/4.5 stars; a near-masterpiece of jazz-rock fused world space prog. Definitely one of the best OT albums that I've heard: the band is so polished! No wonder the Pongmasters Ball concert less than two years in the future is so revered. These guys are so in sync!

BrufordFreak | 4/5 |


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