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Ozric Tentacles - Erpsongs CD (album) cover

ERPSONGS

Ozric Tentacles

Psychedelic/Space Rock


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Proghead
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars This is the very first release from the OZRICS. As a matter of fact, they weren't signed to any label. Let's examine what's going on: it's the mid 1980s, the kind of space rock bands like GONG and HAWKWIND were doing the decade before is now long out of fashion. Record labels once sympathetic to that kind of music (like Virgin, which GONG recorded for) turned their backs on that kind of music and started including punk and new wave acts on their roster. OZRIC TENTACLES knew at the time they wouldn't stand a snowball's chance in hell finding a record label to release their material, so they took matters in to their own hands and released cassettes that were produced and released all by themselves (until the time their reputation spreaded far enough, they would get a record deal, in 1989, that is, but that's later on).

"Epsongs" is that first cassette, and for a home made affair, this is quite a decent album. Certainly the production is a bit messed up in places, and it has its share of throwaway filler, but this album proves that they were already making great space rock, with the ever wild guitar work of Ed Wynne, and great spacy synths from Joie Hinton and Tom Brookes. Ed's not the only one handling guitar here, as Gavin Griffiths is the other guy handing guitar too. Also we get future Jamiroquai drummer Nick Van Gelder (aka. Tig). "Erpsongs" is a wonderful historical item, but things will only get better, that is, their following cassette releases, and their more polished official label releases. If you're a newcomer, don't start here, but if you're a fan, you shouldn't go without.

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Send comments to Proghead (BETA) | Report this review (#5379)
Posted Thursday, May 06, 2004 | Review Permalink
Careman1956@y
3 stars If I am to be honest and I will be, I find that if you have heard one Ozric release you have heard them all. Or at least one release did not vary much from the other for me. I use to own several including this one and found myself wondering why I even bother. Boring, doesn't hold up to repeated listening and highly derivitive of other bands. Although their musicianship is high quality and I do love long tracks, they put me to sleep. Sorry...

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#5380)
Posted Friday, May 06, 2005 | Review Permalink
obiter
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars The first offering from the Ozrics. I first heard this when a couple of the cassettes were circulating amongst the GAS (Gong Appreciation Society) club at university in 1987.

An absolute must-have for any Ozric fan. Be warned, like all the early tapes the mix is not great. If you've listened to later material then this album is striking for the lack of an ethnic feel: that comes to the fore with John Egan. There are also more synth/electronic tracks: sort of Tangerine Dream like. You also get a couple of fairly free range jams: Five Jam and Oddhamshaw.

Velmwood opens with a synth line speeding and heightening beyond hearing limits as the drum bass and guitars sweep in.This is a very typical Ozric track: upbeat bass driving urging the listener to dance. Ed's lead guitar adding to the mix.It has the feel of a jam: the tempo slows, the bass fills in, stops and gaps with synth fills, then here we go off again in another direction: pulsing bass and a new screaming guitar line before the crash ending. Fast Dots delayed guitar sweeps in, heavy bass riff: synth overlay. Spiralmind has a memorable guitar intro, again with considerable delay/echo.

Synth on a plinth is, suprisingly enough, a pure synth number an atmospheric piece than a tune. Dharma Reggae has a simple urgent repeating synth motif. Tidal Otherness has a strong and simple synth line provides the basis for an extended "jam". Ed lays some heavy distorted lead as he free ranges. The Erp Riff is fairly short, but it feels as if you have merely dipped into an extended jam which could take the band in any direction. I wish there had been more of this. Descension is a slow number with some memorable guitar work at the end. Misty Glass is a synth piece ... bit of a Tangerine Dream feel.

Dots Thots: strong bass riff, delayed guitar chords, the whole being shephered by the drumming of Tig.Plenty of room for the band to jam. Clock Drops: it seems as if someone has said to Roly : "here's an interesting little snyth line: sounds like plinking rain with a chinese feel: see what you want to do with it": the bass dabbles around with a couple of ideas. Then without much warning the whole band chimes in with a great riff (reminds me of something I would expect to find in early Thin Lizzy).

Five Jam sounds like a great rambling jam. If you want structure and form this is not for you. Many of the later Ozrics numbers are stictly structured and use a lot of samples and backing tracks around which the band plays with freedom. This is at the opposite spectrum. There is a smooth bassline providing a core about which Ed, Joie, Tom fill. The jam fades out after 7 minutes or so but you have the impression that it may have cointinued in teh studion for another 20. The last track is Oddhamshaw is another jam.

Essential for any Ozric fan and it could be argued that, as the first offerring from Ozrics, and the dawn of a new age, it is worth 5 stars, but I think most people will be encountering this music as part of a retrospective look at early Ozric.

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Send comments to obiter (BETA) | Report this review (#96175)
Posted Sunday, October 29, 2006 | Review Permalink
ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars This debut was actually distributed by means of cassettes but is now available (and affordable) on CD (as a combo with "Tantric Obstacles" for instance).

Some tracks, like the opener like "Velmwend" are rather "Hawkwind" oriented and are by far the best out of this early release. Some parts are really boring, like the reggae-oriented "Thyroid". But the major problem with this work is just song writing. It sounds as a long psychedelic jam and that's it!

All these space sounds have been heard already a zillion times (remember, this record saw the light in 85) and is frankly quite unnecessary. Average instrumental music, more related with a soundtrack style than a creative one.

The whole doesn't sound too bad (if you would except the poor and already mentioned "Thyroid") but highlights are hard to be found. Actually, I couldn't manage to find one. This long recording being a succession of space-rock themes with little feeling. Probably OK while you are in a contemplation mood but if you're looking to innovation and subtleness, I'm afraid that you have to knock on the next door.

I use to listen to this type of music (enjoying it, don't get me wrong) while coming back home from work after an exhausting day of stress and traffic jams. Under these circumstances, this is a fine affair. But if you listen to this record carefully, analyzing every bits and bytes, then you might be somewhat frustrated. One of my fave being the repetitive and hypnotic "Tidal Otherness".

The upbeat and very short "Erp Riff" being another good moment from this offering. But songs as "Descension" or "Dots Thots" (again reggae-oriented) can't really move me. Uninspired stuff, really. The band is also heading some very good TD sounds ("Pheadra" period) during "Misty Gliss". Since I was a TD freak in those times, I admit that I quite like this piece although it ends quite abruptly.

I'm afraid that there is little to add. Almost no highlight here, some basic music and no real breathtaking tracks (even if "Clock Drops" and its wild beat is OK) couldn't be enough to score above the two stars rating.

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Send comments to ZowieZiggy (BETA) | Report this review (#181205)
Posted Sunday, August 31, 2008 | Review Permalink
Modrigue
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars The first recording by the OZRICs and simply the best of their early cassettes !

Erpsongs features short, various songs which style defines the way for OZRICs' future sound: space rock, electronic, reggae, ambient, world... In 1985, the band synthetizes the best of GONG, HAWKWIND, HERE & NOW and TIM BLAKE to later concoct something surprisingly personnal. At this moment, elements were not completely mixed together, but all ideas were here.

The first track, Velmwend, is a perfect opener: fast and energic space rock. It goes on with the psychedelic Fast Dots and the lazy reggae-ish Thyroid. Then comes one of the highlights of the casette, Spiral Mind. Completely different from the song on Waterfall Cities, it has trippy and catchy melody. The band confirms its electronic ambitions in the following three tracks. Dharma Reggae curiously sounds like... KLAUS SCHULZE ! The rest of the cassette alternates between enjoyable space guitar jams and ambient experimentations. TIM BLAKE's influence can be well perceived, for example in Misty Gliss.

Erpsongs represents the birth of a new band, which will modernize and spearhead the space rock genre. This eclectic recording sounded very promising. A must have for any OZRICs or space rock fan !

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Send comments to Modrigue (BETA) | Report this review (#196102)
Posted Monday, December 29, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars Ozric Tentacles was one of many festival bands that got started making their own home made cassettes, and Erpsongs was one of them. Eventually they wanted to make the cassettes more official looking by giving them glossy colored inlays (Erpsongs being red, Tantric Obstacles orange, Live Ethereal Cereal yellow, There is Nothing green, Sliding Gliding Worlds blue, and The Bits Between the Bits grey), and the cassettes either yellow or clear, with the Erpman on the tapes and the titles.

I have been very familiar with Erpsongs ever since I bought the 2-for-1 CD set from Snapper that also included Tantric Obstacles. And then I bought the yellow cassette with red inlay, which is no different from the CD reissue (other than the inlay featuring more great Blim artwork the CD reissues don't have). I was in for a real shock when I was lucky to find a true original cassette, with the black and white inlay, and black cassette (with the title typewritten). It actually differs somewhat musically, that's why you need it. You get an extended version of "Tidal Otherness", an alternate version of "Erpriff" (where half is played in reverse), and two songs available nowhere else. The first mystery song is a short piece right after "Erpriff" that closes side one. "Oddhamshaw" isn't on this version, replaced by the other mystery song, a great full-on band jam that completely blows "Oddhamshaw" right out of the water, but because there was a couple audio glitches (that don't bother me much), it's little wonder all later pressings included "Oddhamshaw". The reason I call these two songs "mystery songs" is because the inlay never included a tracklisting (no cassette version of Erpsongs included a tracklisting, only the CD versions).

This original cassette version gave me a whole new appreciation towards Erpsongs, because of hearing stuff on it that's not available on any other edition (including the cassettes with the red inlay). Certainly you can tell they have room for improvement, but I have little to complain given that's what exactly they did (got even better). Erpsongs might not be the best place for a newbie the way Erpland or Jurassic Shift is, but if you're a fan, get it. I simply advise you also to keep your antennas open for the earliest cassette pressings.

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Send comments to Progfan97402 (BETA) | Report this review (#516562)
Posted Tuesday, September 06, 2011 | Review Permalink
Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars The Ozric Tentacles debut cassette is a real treat for fans of the band, not least because it shows just how quickly they were able to solidify their classic and distinctive sound - given that the core band members only decided to form a group together at the previous year's Stonehenge Free Festival, the rapidity of their musical development is truly impressive. Combining the approach of the likes of Gong and Hawkwind with more modern electronic approaches and organic reggae vibes, and honing their talents on the free festival scene, the band create their own sonic world from the very first note of this tape. In a way, all the Ozrics' songs are Erpsongs, for the blueprint of their entire career can be found here.

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Send comments to Warthur (BETA) | Report this review (#581431)
Posted Sunday, December 04, 2011 | Review Permalink
siLLy puPPy
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars This band was founded by band leader Ed Wynne, who with his brother Roly Wynne met the other band members of the first line-up of OZRIC TENTACLES at a campfire during the Stonehenge Free Festival in 1983. The band immediately hit it off and performed a jam session on the spot. The members took the hippie vibe of the Grateful Dead and married it with the space rock of Hawkwind and Steve Hillage era Gong and added other influences such as the electronic music of the day. Two years later after becoming a huge hit playing live gigs, the demand for their music meant they needed to have their music available for the hungry fans. Unfortunately by this time a decade after the space rock sound reached its pinnacle, no record label was willing to take on this type of music, thus OZRIC TENTACLES took matters into their own hands and produced their own music and distributed six of their first albums on cassettes only. ERPSONGS is the first of these albums and shows how the band had a clear vision of what they wanted to sound like from the beginning.

As a fan of the 90s albums, it is very interesting to go back and check out these earlier ones. This debut album has that organic homemade feel to it and offers upbeat guitar riffs with spaced out trippy synths and a nice groovy bass. There is dub and lots of sound effects and is actually pretty impressive for a do-it-yourself project in the early 80s. I find this a decent listen but at this stage the band's more progressive tendencies hadn't quite blossomed yet. Their sound is very much in its infancy and it lacks the strange time signature and heaps of extra instruments that they would become famous for. The psytrtrance and ambient features are here but not as sophisticated as the albums beginning with their first fully developed album "Pungent Effulgent." However, despite not being the most intricate or developed of their releases, this is a fun little album that has a nice feel to it. ERPSONGS and the other five cassette-only albums have been released on CD and remastered and can all be found together in the recently re-issued box set "Vitamin Enhanced." 3.5 rounded down

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Send comments to siLLy puPPy (BETA) | Report this review (#1214636)
Posted Thursday, July 17, 2014 | Review Permalink

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