Throughout a career that has unexplainably survived some two-and-a-half
decades and numerous ebbs-and-flows of changing musical tides, Britian’s Ozric
Tentacles continues to forge forward with an eye towards the future and one
foot in the past. Equally enamored of Hawkwind-styled space-rock as they are
with jazz-rock fusion (think Mahavishnu) and the psychedelic end of the
prog-rock galaxy (U.K.
’70s rockers Man would be the closest comparison), Ozric Tentacles has managed
to appeal to hippie greybeards, jam-band favoring “crusties,” and
anarchistic danceclub-kids alike across the years.
Verily, it is true that one never does quite know that you’re going to get from a new Ozric Tentacles
album, and the band’s The Yumyum Tree is no exception. Witness the chaotic majesty of “Magick Valley,” the
album’s opening track a miasma of symphonic strings, buzzing-and-buzzsawing
electronic rhythms, and stinging bumblebee guitar that manages to successfully
mate electronica and psychedelia with prog-rock pretension in the creation of
some new mutant offspring of Hawkwind’s most vivid space-rock fever dreams.
Folks, it just gets stranger from here, The Yumyum Tree spinning a fantasia-colored musical sojourn through
Ozric frontman Ed Wynne’s fertile id. “Oddweird” spins like a dervish
beneath a blanket of oscillating electronic-swirls and shards of jagged,
angular guitarwork, while the title track is a mix of found sounds from some
otherworldly rainforest blended into a workable song with the addition of
winsome synthesizers and vaguely African rhythms.
“Plant Music” takes the electronic undercurrents
of The Yumyum Tree a step further, mixing
scraps of funky swagger with vibrating elements of U.F.O. (unidentified flying
oscillation). The gentle rolling vibe of “Nakuru” is complimented by
hints of Asian influence and a subdued soundtrack of steely guitars, dashes of
percussion, and sharp blazes of synth. Only does the album-closing “San
Pedro” hint at the Ozrics of olde, tempering the techno-inspired dementia
of much of the album with the flailing instrumental jams the band is known for
Overall, The Yumyum
Tree displays too much technological diddling and not enough of the organic
inspiration that fueled the best of Ozric Tentacles’ work through the years.
Next time, Ed, give us more of the Bevis Frond and less of Kraftwerk.
Standout Tracks: “Magick Valley,” “Oddweird” REV.
KEITH A. GORDON