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Ozric Tentacles live in Zagreb, 2004
|Genres||Psychedelic rock, neo-psychedelia, space rock, progressive rock, jazz fusion, instrumental rock, electronica, psytrance, dub, world, livetronica|
|Labels||Dovetail, Snapper, Stretchy, Magna Carta, Madfish|
|Associated acts||Eat Static, Nodens Ictus, Here & Now, Invisible System|
Ozric Tentacles are an instrumental rock band from Somerset, England, whose music can loosely be described as progressive or space rock. Formed in 1983, the band has released 26 albums as of 2015, and became a cottage industry selling over a million albums worldwide despite never having major label backing. Throughout many line-up changes over the years, guitarist Ed Wynne has remained the only original member of the band.
Ozric Tentacles formed at the Stonehenge Free Festival in 1983. There, the brothers Ed Wynne (guitar & keyboards) and Roly Wynne (bass), who along with drummer Nick 'Tig' Van Gelder (Jamiroquai) were performing in a group known as ‘Bolshem People’, with keyboardist Joie Hinton. While performing at an evening jam session, the group was asked as to the name of their band, to which Ed Wynne replied "Ozric Tentacles." Since that point, Ozric Tentacles (or "The Ozrics", as they are also known) gained attention for their style of psychedelic rock, which makes prominent use of synthesizers, guitars, and samplers. The band is now credited as one of the major influences of the UK festival scene's re-emergence, becoming particularly associated with the Glastonbury Festival, and their handmade series of cassette releases, sold at gigs and through a fan club. Guitarist Gavin Griffiths left the early line-up of the band to form The Ullulators who share a similar musical style to the Ozrics.
In 1989 the band started their own label, Dovetail Records, its first release was Pungent Effulgent. This was followed by Erpland (1990), their classic double album. 1991 saw the band reach #1 in the UK Indie Chart, with their hit single "Sploosh!", from the Strangeitude LP. By 1993 the band's Jurassic Shift album reached the Top 20 of the UK Albums Chart, and #1 in the UK Indie Chart, spending a total of three months in the charts.
The band has gone through myriad line-up changes, with Ed Wynne (guitar, keyboards) being the only constant presence since the beginning. Many members left to pursue more electronic music spin-off acts, such as Eat Static, Nodens Ictus, Dubblehead, and Moksha. Nick Van Gelder (a.k.a. Tig), drummer for Jamiroquai during the Emergency on Planet Earth era was the original drummer of Ozric Tentacles, performing on the first six cassettes including Tantric Obstacles and Erpsongs. Nevertheless, the band maintained its identity and continued with this prolific rate of albums throughout the 1990s, and into the new millennium, and continues to tour extensively today.
The band is famous for their live performances, and have long taken an audio-visual approach to live performance, with an integrated lighting and projections crew. The band has seen many rhythm section changes over the years. As of May 2013, the lineup featured Ed Wynne (guitar, synths), Brandi Wynne (bass, keyboards), Silas Neptune (synths, samples, saz), Hungarian drummer Balázs Szende, and Paul Hankin (Conga Paul; Percussion).
In 2011, Ozric Tentacles released their studio album, Paper Monkeys, and toured the record in America in March 2012, moving into a six-week-long, an extensive European tour in April–May 2012.
In June 2012 their home in Colorado was destroyed by wild fires, that had ravaged the area for over a week. The band was on tour at the time. Archived material was destroyed as was their studio and some instruments. After the fire, the band reached out to fans to help rebuild the archive.
Ozric Tentacles play a kind of progressive rock that is based on elements of electronica and is popular with fans of rave music
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The music of Ozric Tentacles is a mixture of driving basslines, keyboard and intricate guitar work, with a sound influenced by Steve Hillage and Gong. Many of the Ozrics' songs incorporate unusual time signatures and/or Eastern-influenced modes. Furthermore, the band often utilizes complex arrangements, which include changes in time signature, key signature and tempo over the course of the track. The arrangements also take influence from funk, jazz fusion, dub/reggae and ambient music. These features are frequently mixed with electronic elements, including densely layered psytrance- and techno-influenced arpeggiated synthesizers, pads, synth basslines, effects and programmed drumbeats.
The Ozrics also use a wide range of instruments in their performances. Electric and acoustic guitars, flutes, ethnic percussion, koto, saz, sitar and the sounds of digitally tweaked human voices have appeared throughout their music.
According to Wynne, "'Ozric' is an old Viking name meaning 'divine energy', and 'tentacles' is a silly word to put on the end."
Early cassette-only albums
- Erpsongs (1985)
- Tantric Obstacles (1985)
- There Is Nothing (1986)
- Live Ethereal Cereal (1986)
- Sliding Gliding Worlds (1988)
- The Bits Between the Bits (1989)
The first six cassette-only albums were self-released before the band began recording and releasing material on CD under the label. These first six albums were released in 1994 as a CD box-set called Vitamin Enhanced. The albums were later re-released as a series of three double-disc packages, followed by a remastered reissue of the original box in 2014. In 2015, the albums are released as remastered double-LPs.
- Pungent Effulgent (1989)
- Erpland (1990)
- Strangeitude (1991)
- Jurassic Shift (1993)
- Arborescence (1994)
- Become the Other (1995)
- Curious Corn (1997)
- Waterfall Cities (1999)
- The Hidden Step (2000)
- Swirly Termination (2000)
- Spirals in Hyperspace (2004)
- The Floor's Too Far Away (2006)
- The Yumyum Tree (2009)
- Paper Monkeys (2011)
- Technicians of the Sacred (2015)
- Live Underslunky (1992)
- Spice Doubt (1998)
- Pyramidion (2001)
- Live at the Pongmaster's Ball (2002)
- Sunrise Festival (2008)
- Live in Pordenone, Italy (2013)
- Floating Seeds Remixed (1999)
- Sploosh (1991)
- Oakum (2001)
- Xingu (2015)
In addition to the official releases, there are known to exist numerous other obscure or rare recordings from the band's many studio sessions. It was said in the early days, that the band even invited fans to send them blank cassettes, which they filled with tracks and returned.
- Ed Wynne – guitar, keyboards, samples, koto, fretless bass, programming (1983–present)
- Brandi Wynne – bass, synthesizer (2004–present)
- Silas Neptune – keyboards, samples, saz (2009–present)
- Balázs Szende – drums (2012–present)
- Joie Hinton (a.k.a. Ozrooniculator) – keyboards, samples, synthesizer (1983–94, 2007)
- Roly Wynne – bass (1983–92)
- Nick van Gelder (a.k.a. Tig) – drums (1983–87)
- Tom Brooks (a.k.a. Zorch) – keyboards (1983–86)
- Gavin Griffiths – guitar (1983–84)
- Merv Pepler – drums, percussion (1988–94, 2004–09)
- Steve Everitt – bass, keyboards (1993)
- Marcus Ethnic (Marcus Carcus) – percussion (1988–90, 1993)
- Generator John – drums, percussion (1989–1993)
- John Egan (a.k.a. Jumping John) – flute (1989–2005)
- Zia Geelani – bass (1992–2004)
- Rad (Conrad Prince) – drums, percussion (1994-2001)
- Christopher "Seaweed" Lenox-Smith – keyboards, synthesizer (1994–2003)
- Johnny Morgan – drums (2000) Pyramidion E.P and European Tour
- Stuart "Stu" Fisher (a.k.a. Schoo) – drums, percussion (2000–2004)
- Metro – drums (2004–2005)
- Alan Haggarty (a.k.a. Haggis) – bass (2005), tour manager & FOH (1991–2005)
- Harry Waters – keyboards (2004)
- Greyum May – bass (2004–2005)
- Steve Hillage – guitar (2004, as a guest guitarist)
- Paul Godfrey – bass (2003–2004)
- Paul Chousmer – keyboards (2006)
- Vinny Shillito – bass (2006–2009)
- Roy Brosh – drums (2009)
- Ollie Seagle – drums (2006–2013)
- Paul Hankin – percussion, congas (1985–1991; 2013–2015)
Original bassist Roly Wynne, Ed's brother, was a major force in shaping the melodic rhythms at the heart of the Ozrics sound. Roly's later life had been plagued with difficulties until he committed suicide in 1999.
In 1996 Merv Pepler and Joie Hinton formed Eat Static , a rave oriented dance music duo. They toured in parallel with Ozric Tentacles for several years until 1994, when they left the band to pursue Eat Static full-time.
Seaweed (a.k.a. Christopher Lenox-Smith) was keyboard player for much of the 1990s. He was previously a member of the Thunderdogs (who toured with French circus troupe Archaos in the early 1990s) and Moksha. Seaweed was not new to parallel projects, being already a permanent member not only of Ozric Tentacles, but also Eat Static and Zub Zub and having always collaborated with numerous musicians including Marco Lippe of Italians Twenty four Hours, on the album Armi D'istruzione di Massa.
Ex-Bassist Zia Geelani now makes dance music under the name ZubZub.
Ex-Flautist Jon Egan is now playing with space rock outfit Dream Machine. He has also played with ex-Ozric Zia Geelani's dance and electronica band (ZubZub), as well as his own band Champignon.
Ex-bass player Greyum May is now the bass player for Firebird and new Psychedelic/Progressive band Keepers Brew.
Ex-bass player Paul Godfrey is now the bass player in The Cellar Door Sound.
Johnny Morgan from Senser, Moke and Lodestar played drums in between Rad leaving and Schoo joining, for a European tour in 2000, and recorded drums for the title track on the Pyramidion E.P.
Paul Chousmer also plays with Another Green World, Webcore, Zuvuya, Astralasia, and was sound engineer for Archaos show Metal Clown.
Ex-bass player Vinny Shillito now plays bass for Forked Tongue, a Norfolk-based progressive Acid Rap band.
In popular culture
The AV-400 MHz NMR machine of the chemistry department of The University of Warwick (UK) is nicknamed "Ozric" in honour of the band allegedly by multinuclear NMR expert and Ozric Tentacles fan, Jon Rourke.
- "Features and Interviews > Ozric Tentacles". Musoscribe.com. Retrieved 2012-04-18.
- Cleveland, Barry (1 February 2010). "Ed Wynne Raves On". Guitar Player. Retrieved 6 June 2014.
- Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 413. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
- "High Park Fire". Ozrics.proboards.com. p. 2. Retrieved 29 June 2012.
- "PEPPERMINT IGUANA ozric tentacles interview". Peppermintiguana.co.uk. 1984-06-21. Retrieved 2012-04-18.
- "Get Ready to ROCK! Interviews with Ed Wynne of progressive ambient rock band Ozric Tentacles". Getreadytorock.com. Retrieved 2012-04-18.
- Review of the album Armi d'istruzione di massa
- "NMR equipment named for instrumental rock group". warwick.ac.uk. Retrieved 2013-11-05.
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