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Music Review: Ozric Tentacles – The YumYum Tree

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Very fitting: Go to the Ozrics homepage and they’re sitting in a crop circle, the quintessential emblem of acid eaters, kooks, and paranormal wackos. Guess which category the Ozrics fall into?

Ozric Tentacles are an anomaly in the music world: Simply put, they’re unique. Unique means one of a kind. There is no “nearly” unique, there is no “almost,” no “very.” You’re either unique … or you’re not. And the Ozrics are unique. Their origins are closer to the psychedelic sixties than they are to the bland double-0s; they’re not out of place in the here and now, although they are still unique. Their music is a mixture of mostly psychedelic sounds and light effects, but there are readily recognizable strains which show up: I’ve heard them called a jam band, but they’re unlike any jam band you’ve ever heard. I’ve heard them called dub, but again, unlike any others. I’ve heard them called rave, but again…

So, who/what are the Ozric Tentacles? They’re the best psychedelic dub-acid-jam-rave-ambient-festival-prog rock group that’ll bless your ears. They’re a legend in their own time in the U.K. and Europe, yet relatively unknown in the U.S. They’ve been a legend in the U.K. and Europe for over 25 years, playing to sellout crowds all over, often even in the U.S. One of the reasons they’re still relatively unknown here has to be down to their limited live appearances. This is their first American tour since 1999, which until this year is the only time I’ve been lucky enough to catch the Ozrics live.

Another reason is, of course, the homogenization of radio stations in the U.S. Go to Anytown USA, Chicago, Miami, Los Angeles, tune in your radio, and you’ll find the same music you left in East Jesus, Alabama. Man (and woman) cannot live by pap alone. There’s got to be some variety in your life, unless you aspire to become the Gray (Wo)Man. GIGO, right? Garbage in, garbage out. Add some variety, expand your world.

I was very fortunate to catch the Ozrics in an ideal setting: Shank Hall in Milwaukee, a small, 350-or so limit no-smoking club with a killer sound system, and the farthest you could get from the stage was maybe 25 yards. Maximum effect for a group such as the Ozrics. Regardless of the size of the venue, however, the show will be absolutely great, I can guarantee it.

The YumYum Tree is scheduled for release just about the time you’re reading this review. Eight selections, 53 minutes of pure sonic pandemonium. You’ll have to imagine the light show and other effects, which all add to the experience. But the Ozrics put on a dynamic, memorable show regardless of whether you’re experiencing only the sonics, or if it’s the whole Magilla. By all means, see the live show to get the full effect, if at all possible. But you can be satisfied and perfectly happy with just the CD.

The Ozrics have never been on a major label, yet they’ve managed to sell over a million albums. Their beginnings are not the stuff of front page news; their genesis was a campfire at, fittingly again, Stonehenge. The music that they crafted there, and have never wavered from, is, according to the promo sheet, “a signature blend of hippie aesthetics and raver electronics with spiraling guitars, textured waves of keyboard and MIDI samplers, and supergroovy bass and drum rhythms.”

The YumYum Tree is the Ozrics first CD since 2006’s The Floor’s Too Far Away, plus they’ve recently relocated to Colorado, so we should be seeing much more of them now. They’re scheduled to be on tour the remainder of 2009, and they’ll be appearing coast to coast. Dates are still being added, so be sure to check the website often for updates.

The Ozrics are well worth even a long ride to see live, and their appearances are likely to sell out quickly, particularly the smaller venues. Make plans accordingly. You will not be disappointed!

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About Lou Novacheck