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15 July, 2004

Review: Ozric Tentacles studio albums

I've just written a series of very brief reviews of the Ozric Tentacles' studio albums at Rate Your Music, so I might as well post them here too.

Pungent Effulgent (1989) 3/5
I like most Ozrics music, but their albums tend to be a bit 'samey'. This is no exception.
That sounds like a criticism, but isn't really - I do like it! It's just that if I accidentally put two Ozrics albums into each others cases, I doubt I'd notice next time I played either.

Erpland (1990) 4/5
Possibly my favourite studio album from the Ozrics (until 2004's 'Spirals In Hyperspace'). Or rather, the album which first featured a number of my favourite live tracks - they're always better live! 'The Throbbe' is a particular favourite track, but has developed over the years and is truly special live.

Afterswish (1991) 3/5
A good summary of the band's earlier cassette-only releases (1984-91), for some reason I rarely play this 2-CD compilation. It's okay....

Strangeitude (1991) 3.5/5
Overall, 'just another Ozrics album' - which is a good thing! However, 'White Rhino Tea' and particularly 'Sploosh' show signs of development in the band's sound, and have become highlights of the live set.

Live Underslunky (1991) 3/5
The Ozrics have always sounded better live, but somehow this official live album doesn't seem to have 'it'. I don't know why; it just doesn't inspire me.

Jurassic Shift (1993) 3/5
The best-known Ozrics album, but certainly not the best.

Arborescence (1994) 3.5/5
This is where I came in, so it probably means a bit more to me than the music objectively deserves. I do like it, but several Ozrics albums are so similar as to be interchangeable, and this doesn't stand out from the (excellent) crowd.
When the basic sound is so good, 'more of the same' isn't a problem!

Become the Other (1995) 3.5/5
Though the arrival of Seaweed introduced a slight techno element to the music, the transition was subtle, and this a slight evolution rather than a significant departure from the usual Ozrics sound.

Curious Corn (1997) (4/5)
If 'Erpland' was the highlight of the early-90s Ozrics sound, this is the single best album of the late-90s period; everything between them might be seen as a gradual transition, and most of those following 'Curious Corn' seem to be virtual clones of it.
I think this is the studio album I play most often (though I play live recordings more than any studio album!).

Spice Doubt (1998) 4.5/5
This is the live album 'Live Underslunky' should have been! Wonderful.

Floating Seeds (1998) 2/5
Ozrics tracks remixed by others.
Can safely be avoided.

Waterfall Cities (1999) 3.5/5
Good, but not a 'standout' album.
"Should I buy this album?" Yes; it's as good as any, though I wouldn't make it a priority purchase.

Swirly Termination (2000) NR
There was something strange about the release of this album - I believe the band's ex-label released it without their permission in 2000, and it wasn't until 2003 that it was properly released by the Ozrics. I haven't got round to buying it yet, but I'm confident I'll like it!

The Hidden Step (2000) 3/5
The usual 'more of the same' comment was wearing a little thin by this point - a bit more experimentation or evolution would have been good, and this feels like they were treading water.
The cover is annoyingly amateurish, too.

Spirals in Hyperspace (2004) 4.5/5
Excellent - their best in a long time.
This is predominantly an Ed Wynne solo album, with guest appearances by other members of the Ozrics, though that's not too obvious unless studying the album credits.
The production is wonderful; ambient drones, dub beats and electronic 'blips' occupying a proper 3D soundscape. Some of these tracks take the listener on a trip, in the sense of an auditory journey, nothing druggie!
If one was to buy only four Ozrics albums, this would have to be one of them. To answer the unspoken question, the others would be 'Erpland', 'Curious Corn' and 'Spice Doubt'.
I took a mere 1,200 words to review this album in April, so I'll leave it at that, here!

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