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Ozric Tentacles - Technicians of the Sacred CD (album) cover


Ozric Tentacles


Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.85 | 218 ratings

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4 stars UK band OZRIC TENTACLES are among the living legends of progressive rock, although I'm not quite sure if they would consider themselves to merit being described in such terms. With a career that kicked off 30 years ago and a prolific total production over the years, this is a firmly established band with a sizable fanbase at this point, and if my memory is correct they are one those bands that have established an audience that cross a great extent of stylistic borders along the way. "Technicians of the Sacred" is their latest studio production, and was released in May 2015 through the Snapper Music imprint Madfish.

As glorious as the past of the Ozrics is, the last ten years or so have seen the band dwindling down a bit, at least as far as recording new material goes. Of the 26 studio and live albums to their name, only five of those have been released over the past decade, including this latest album of theirs. I've also gotten the impression that their latest few studio albums haven't been quite up to the quality of their earlier material, and that there might have been some slight concerns about the band having more or less emptied their well of inspiration and creativity. Four years have gone since Ozric Tentacles released a studio album now, and it was something of a surprise, at least for me, that their latest one was a double feature. After giving this one an inspection it's also fairly clear to my mind why it was released as a double album however, as my impression is that this isn't a case of a double album produced merely to be able to put out all material made rather than selecting the best ones for a single CD, but rather that this is a double feature with subtle differences that makes these two CDs slightly different from one another.

The six cuts chosen for the first CD all share some characteristic features: They are dominated by keyboard and synthesizer textures, liberally flavored with electronic effects and the guitars are toned down both as providers of plucked details, riffs, textures and soloing runs. The songs are very much Ozrics sounding, with all manners of futuristic sounds, surging keyboards and playful effects that invokes thoughts of science fiction just as much as fantasy fiction, and the distinct warm bass groove is of course a feature. But these compositions are all what I'd describe as rather elegant in nature, fairly smooth as seen in the context of this band's history, and just a tad more toned down throughout. Space rock, or fantasy rock if you like, of high quality and with a liberal array of keyboards, synthesizers and electronic effects in the driver seat.

I experience the second disc as a somewhat different creation. The guitar is more prominent, some of the sounds used are more visible, more in contrast with the environment if you like, and many of them feature more distinct world music inspired details, and then of the kind that comes with associations towards Asia and the Middle East first and foremost. The most excellent Epiphlioy the most distinct case in point, and one of the reasons for why this piece of a clear album highlight for me. A creation that takes me back to some of the classic, fairly early albums by the Ozrics that one. Just about as potent is Smiling Potion, one of those tracks that opens with the use of some distinctly odd sounds, explore them for a bit and then starts developing into quite the moving, vibrant monster tune. A future live favorite if I ever heard one. The differences between the two CDs here are fairly subtle, and there is of course a chance that my mind is playing tricks on me. Still, my impression is that this second disc features more use of exotic sounds, more use of and room for the guitar and a slightly less use of keyboards and synthesizer dominated arrangements. What isn't a matter of doubt is that this an Ozrics Tentacles production however, not just in name but also in game. The trademark sounds, effects and arrangements of the Ozrics is instantly recognizable, the band sticking with sounds, effects, themes and arrangements tested and proven by time, and use their experience to assemble all elements into compelling material with a fresh spirit, vibrancy and nerve that I've found somewhat lacking in this band for the last few years.

While I wouldn't rate "Technicians of the Sacred" as among the all time greatest albums by Ozric Tentacles at this point, that is a call that is much too early to give for a new album by such a long-lasting and prolific band anyway, what I can state with some degree of certainty is that for me personally, this is a strong album. If it will grow on me as time goes by or of it will lessen in impact when it's no longer fresh and new is something time will have to tell. But as of right here and right now this is a double album I feel I can safely recommend for old time fans and curious newcomers to the band alike.

Windhawk | 4/5 |


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