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Ozric Tentacles - Paper Monkeys CD (album) cover

PAPER MONKEYS

Ozric Tentacles

 

Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.34 | 72 ratings

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Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator
Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
3 stars The Ozric Tentacles have been mixing proggy psychedelic instrumental rock with world elements, electronics and modern dance influences for almost 30 years now, with `Erpland', `Jurassic Shift' and `Waterfall Cities' being their most artistically successful and musically defining albums - to my ears anyway! In between those albums are a stack of accomplished and high-quality releases, but it's only every few albums where the band seems to take a big step forward and push themselves in a new and exciting direction. After a few decent but by-the-numbers releases in a row, I'd secretly hoped `Paper Monkeys' was going to be the `next big one' for them. Instead, we get a very accomplished but also very typical Ozrics album, with a handful of terrific pieces and a bunch of decent ones.

`Attack Of The Vapours' gets things off to a great start. After a noisy tribal-drum assault with Ed Wynne's wailing electric guitar, the track falls into an addictive programmed drum n' bass workout full of floating synths. It's pretty straightforward, without the usual Ozrics schizophrenic approach, instead being surprisingly focused and to-the-point. One of my more favourite recent Ozrics tracks!

Shimmering electric piano, relentless bass and a soaring melodic electric guitar melody/solo weave through `Lost In The Sky'. The synth melody diversions and gurgling keys throughout are very pleasing, as well as the final keyboard solo from Silas Wynne, plus there's lots of furious drumming from Ollie Seagle too. Very uplifting, and sure to put you in a great mood.

The kicking title track is like a classic riff-heavy older Ozrics track with a very shredding electric solo running through most of the piece, busy drums, repetitive maddening bass and a quirky synth heavy middle section! Heaps of energy on what will probably be the favourite track on the album for many fans.

The first half of the ten-minute `The Will Of The Wisps' has a subtle and breezy Ash-Ra influence, as gentle percussion and electronics float along on clouds of musical bliss. A groovier second half with more commanding drums, heavier electronics and noisy guitars changes the mood to something a little more tense. In many ways, it's the most subtle thing on the album, yet it makes the biggest impression.

The rest of the album is made up of a number of worthwhile but typical Ozric workouts. There's lots of positivity on the bouncy `Lemon Kush', with liquid bass from Brandi (wished it was mixed just a little louder!), good mix of programmed and busy live drum-work, plus lovely glissando and a killer funky guitar solo from Ed. Shimmering synth waves and middle eastern guitar sounds throughout `Flying Machines', I love the thunderstorm behind the Tangerine Dream-like synthscape in the middle, while the very alien atmosphere joined with ethnic acoustic guitar and tribal drumbeats is highly intoxicating. `Knurl' begins with gorgeous deep and thick bass, but soon joined by a catchy dubby synth melody that drifts through most of the track, giving it a very light and airy feel. A ragged electric guitar solo in the middle and plenty of varied drumming throughout. `Plowm' sets up the opening few seconds as a drifting Ash-Ra piece before heavy programmed drums, funky bass and harsh guitar solos invade the track. The shimmering and phasing synth melodies throughout are very tasteful, too. The album ends on the short but sweet `Air City' that has an almost thoughtful and reflective tone, sounding like something from one of the Pierre Moerlin `Gong' albums with it's use of xylophone.

Although full of the usual colourful swirling synth solos, spacey electric guitar solos and grooving bass, much of the music itself feels a little like the band are just going through the same motions that they've been going through on all their albums since 2004's `Spirals In Hyperspace'. There's still an over-reliance on programming, especially with the beats, although this album seems to feature the most live drum-work for many albums, which gives the music a punchier and livelier sound. Admittedly the album has plenty of addictive arrangements and frequently catchy melodies, and if someone were to hear the Ozrics for the first time with `Paper Monkeys', I think they'd find endless exciting ideas and interesting sounds on it. For established fans, it's more a case of being `another fine quality Ozrics album' to throw on the shelf next to their other ones, without the real magic that makes their best albums stand out. Meanwhile, we'll keep waiting for that `next big one' the band surely still have in them.

Nice cover, too, that looks especially striking and clever on the vinyl release!

Aussie-Byrd-Brother | 3/5 |

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