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Ozric Tentacles - Lotus Unfolding CD (album) cover


Ozric Tentacles

Psychedelic/Space Rock

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5 stars There are few bands that you can trust anything they've ever released. You can't say that about Hawkwind, especially with all those unofficial releases that flooded the marked without the band's knowledge. To be fair they had a few stinker official releases too. But with Ozric Tentacles, you pick a release and you get an idea what they're like. Some are better than others, no one will deny the brilliance of albums like Erpland or Jurassic Shift. Technicians of the Sacred is definitely my favorite of their more recent releases, but it looks like Lotus Unfolding will rival that one. Space for the Earth, while an excellent album, never reached the heights of Technicians of the Sacred, but Lotus Unfolding is nothing short of amazing. It's much more intense and energetic than its predecessor. Ed and Silas are present, but surprisingly so is Brandi, who I thought stayed in the States as Ed moved to Scotland. Perhaps she couldn't find anyone to play with at home in the States, so she returned to the Ozrics. Also included is Paul Hankin, an early Ozric member that I'm so happy to see return (after Strangeitude, he hadn't appeared on an Ozric album until Technicans). Also, we get Tim Wallander of the Swedish band Agusa on drums. If you dislike the electronic side of Ozrics, it's doubtful Lotus Unfolding will change your mind, it is one of their more electronic albums, but then that never bothered me, they often had more electronic-leaning albums as early as Become the Other. "Stormy Teacup" shows very creative use of synths and Ed providing his usual great guitar work, same for "Deep Blue Shade". Then there's the title track, with some nice flute from someone other than John, in this case Saskia Maxwell, a Cornish musician who apparently recorded some stuff with Silas, so no surprise she'd appear on an Ozric release; however, she only appears on two tracks, this one, and "Burundi Spaceport". The title track starts off with a synth pattern similar to Steve Hillage's Rainbow Dome Musick (which seems like a rather obvious album that inspired a lot of the Ozrics' synth sound), but then there's added flute (not too different from what John has done) and drums. It's a bit more calm, but one point Brandi is using the exact same bass line heard on "Oolite Groove" off Curious Corn. Paul Hankin really shines on "Green Incantation" with rather creative use of percussion, it's the percussion that really shines here, but it's still an incredible piece. I have to say that I was very much blown away by this album, certainly a favorite of 2023, a year that's been a favorite of mine for prog in recent years, mostly Norwegian like The Chronicle of Father Robin's The Songs & Tales of Airoea three-LP box set, Lars Fredrik Fr°islie's Fire Fortelligner, and Jordsj°'s Salighet, making Ozric Tentacle's Lotus Unfolding as the major non-Norwegian album that made it for Album of the Year 2023 for me. So if you're a long-time Ozric fan or just beginning, this is a wonderful album to have.
Report this review (#2963427)
Posted Saturday, October 21, 2023 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Ed Wynne has chosen to revive the "Ozric" name--with the help of his family and some friends--for this, their 16th studio album release, and I have to concur with the other early reviewers: this may be one of their best albums ever-- certainly top five!

1. "Storm in a Teacup" (9:37) a song that captures all of the instrumentalists (and programs) contributing equally and fully to the break-neck rush-forward race down the highway that it presents, start to near-finish. Definitely my favorite song on the album. (18.75/20)

2. "Deep Blue Shade" (5:09) another perfectly balanced Ozric soundscape that conjures (and calls) up all of the best of everything this band has ever done and yet is uniquely its own song. The bass, synths, and percussion play really stand out for me. Like the album's opener, this song makes me want to dance! (9/10)

3. "Lotus Unfolding" (8:13) calm, floating music that conjures up dreams or meditations of exotic jungle scenery. Saskia Maxwell's beautiful ethereal flute is the lead instrument for the first three minutes. In the fourth minute drums, bass, and keys kick in, giving the beautiful music some flow, while the flute comes back sounding a bit distant due to its place within the mix. Great bass line from Brandi Wynne and easy going, yet impressive drums from Tim Wallander lead to a heavier section with Ed's electric guitar searing in the lead. With a few gentle stop-and-starts the synths join in as the flute returns to counter the guitars and synth. Beautiful song. My second top three. (14/15)

4. "Crumplepenny" (9:55) quirky-wonky synth percussives woven together open this song for a long and prolonged stop-and-start intro. In the third minute acoustic steel-string guitar announces itself as the lead instrument while the band continues its little game of hide and seek--trying to decide whether or not to congeal into an united force. Finally they do: in an awesome driving motif. Guitars, drums, synth programs are all great but the rapid-fire, single-note bass line is the driving force behind it all. In the middle we enter a star-ceilinged cave of mystical awe in which everyone just stops, drops their jaws, and looks around them for a bit. When the band kicks back in, it's with a totally new motif, vocoder syllables thrown into the soup with everybody else. Great percussion work from Paul Hankin as well as awesome synth lines and acoustic guitar play. The song then comes to a close as it started: with quirk and indecision-- despite the acoustic guitar's attempt at leadership. Very cool and unusual song--even for the Ozrics! My other top three song. (18.25/20)

5. "Green Incantation" (7:38) with its funky bass, stop-and-go and play, and lead acoustic 12-string guitar, this one sounds like something from a STEVE TIBBETTS or DIF JUZ album. Great start. Wonderful engineering while somehow keeping a 1970s rock sound at the foundation despite the typical Ozrics pixie synth play (courtesy of Silas Wynne?). "Normal" electric guitar takes the lead in the seventh and eighth minutes. (13.375/15)

6. "Burundi Spaceport" (5:08) heavily-effected guitar solos over a steadily-rolled bass note as incidental synth and hand percussives play into a texturized background. In the third minute the full band finally comes together-- consolidates into a kind of Calypso foundation over which a distant multi-dimensional being (effected guitar) snorts and flies around as if some kind of elusive Chinese dragon flitting around the river canyon (8.75/10)

Total Time 45:40

A-/five stars; a minor masterpiece of progressive rock music. Come on everybody, get on board: Welcome back the Ozrics!

Report this review (#2964193)
Posted Tuesday, October 24, 2023 | Review Permalink
4 stars Ozric Tentacles return with Lotus Unfolding, in which the Wynne clan and guests offer up something with a little bit more bite than Space For the Earth and Technicians of the Sacred. There's still the clean, pristine production one has come to expect from recent Ozrics releases, but at the same time there's a forcefulness to the music which has been missing for a while, with opener Storm In a Teacup setting the pace and the rest of the material ably measuring up to the standard set. It's nothing to completely shift the direction of the group's gradual musical evolution, but it is a finely-crafted product of it.
Report this review (#2965736)
Posted Tuesday, October 31, 2023 | Review Permalink
4 stars I am a long-time Ozrics fan. First time I heard them was on a CD of their Arboresence release. I was in a brick and mortar store and bought it as a used disc after sampling it via the store's headphone listening station. One problem -- I didn't own a CD player. I went right out later that week and bought a Sony 5-disc player. That's history. So what about Lotus Unfolding?

Seeing as I own everything the Ozrics released and all the boxed sets -- and having recently reviewed Space for Earth -- I can confidently say this release does not disappoint. The label sent the typical online e-press kit page and mp3 files to download. I of course then ordered the CD, which is yet to arrive from the UK.

"Storm in a Teacup" really get things blasting off nicely and is tight. "Deep Blue Shade" has an excellent synth intro with Ed layering on nice guitar full of delay and punch. Typical rocking, trippy Ozrics, speed, funk reggae ska bliss here. Gawd the synths are so nice. Makes me want to go noodle on my own synth rack.

"Lotus Unfolding" starts out very new-agey with flute to guide you and synth bubbling on the edge of hearing. Then the drums and bass kick in and you are slowly pulled in. It takes 5 minutes and 21 seconds before Ed explodes into his signature blazingly warped and distorted Steve Hillage inspired riffs. And from that crescendo, it all goes back into a long outro into simplicity of sound.

"Crumplepenny" is spacey groovefest with Ed riffing on acoustic guitar. At nearly 3 minutes in -- he blasts off into electric guitar hero blissdom and the groove really picks up before he returns to a mean acoustic solo. Very, very Ozrics gold here...

"Green Incantation" features more acoustic guitar early on with bubbling synths and even paced drums. 4.5 minutes in, Ed starts an electric guitar power chord passage to move things along and then the synths take off again with a heavy bass line. At around 6 minute mark Ed goes crazy on electric guitar in his signature style of swirling effects laden majesty. Then things fade out soon.

"Burundi Spaceport" -- the final track features either electric guitar processed to sound acoustic or vice versa. I like that a great deal. Lots of delay, reverb and echo is happening here. Bass, synths and drums are really groovin' and movin' things along. This song reminds more of a jam session that is quite unstructured song-wise but remains tight until it finishes. But aren't so many Ozric songs such engaging sonic journeys and a meander? Nonetheless, any Ozric fan will enjoy Lotus Unfolding.

High recommendations.

Report this review (#2965990)
Posted Wednesday, November 1, 2023 | Review Permalink
3 stars OZRIC TENTACLES founded in 1983, kraut, Steve VAI for guitar, TANGERINE DREAM, ethnic arab-techno, psychedelic ambient space rock fusion, experimental, instrumental ambient music that will drive fans of techno and house music, the height of it; they emerged during the Stonehenge Festival to indicate their musical signature, combining cosmic and nature; it's the WYNNE family who orchestrates. Known in 94, it's their 21st album of 2020 that brought me back to them, let's see what the 22nd is about.

"Storm in a Teacup" takes us directly to their space, on the border between jam and experimentation, with layered synths, a vibrant tune reminding me of RUSH just fleetingly; ah Ed's tortured guitar on the flights of TANGERINE DREAM, VAI, it goes on, the dynamite bass and the funky drums; a sound that is dated but still fresh and catchy; I compare it to the more recent QUANTUM FANTAY for this psychedelic enthusiasm; the stereo and fluid finale in which we have the impression of seeing the notes flowing. "Deep Blue Shade" more dub, bass, for a hypnotic journey variegated with blue, well that's in the title; a universe to listen to alone, at night, on headphones or loudly on Hi-Fi to blast your speakers, funky-jazzy at one point; Ed and Silas engage in a friendly musical battle. "Lotus Unfolding" shifts time and space; Saskia's flute offers a musical yoga eyeing the sounds of KITAJIMA, purity of the moment and of the sound; birds come to land before the monolithic synth sets the rhythm on a serene hypnotic waterfall variation looking over the Japanese world.

"Crumplepenny" arrives, much more complex, tinkered and chaotic with dark vibes; it vibrates out of tune, it moves like a doe in spring ready to eat berries to get drunk; the finale with Vangelisian synth choirs restores a little madness while an Andalusian and Yessian acoustic solo sows discord; the modern title which does not only provoke trance, here it is reflection. "Green Incantation" bass Ó la 'Subway', flamenco guitar-sitar Ó AL DI MEOLA, astral radiation to go even further; the synth gives the different instruments the opportunity to give their all, without being obliged to provide a deluge of sound; the colorful, dancing air, here it goes again on a programmed jig which flows like an effusion of land, astonishing; the piece to consume with a substance without a doubt, I who thought that we no longer needed it. "Burundi Spaceport" ends this journey, a hilarious title for a trance-meditative air if that can exist; calm, lively, organs, hypnotic, bouncy drums, a more complicated title which passes like a letter in the post, finally from the time when the post office ensured its traffic; I'm getting lost but this title risks... losing you by offering a unique tune that makes you think and meditate even more.

OZRIC TENTACLES returns in force with this creative, meditative, hypnotic album; mantra tunes, psychedelic to go far away, that's the goal; captivating sounds which gave the idea to ORESOUND SPACE COLLECTIVE, QUANTUM FANTAY, ASTRAL MAGIC to also explore this very particular musical mode; so it's progressive above all, danceable, jazzy but oh so entertaining to make your whole body vibrate; colorful multi-layered music which does not revolutionize the genre but extends the movement as if time could also go back; repetitive yes, shimmering and imaginative yes, what better way to wander in this musical maelstrom.

Report this review (#2969586)
Posted Sunday, November 26, 2023 | Review Permalink

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