Ozric Tentacles: Sunrise Festival

By: Greg Gargiulo

The boundary-bending music of Ozric Tentacles travels in more directions than some might be capable of handling. Jumping around from the depths of obscurity to danceable, head-swaying grooves, their live performances encompass an effusion of sounds, styles, tempo shifts and musical situations not intended for the light listener. In the same style, the Ozrics' CD/DVD Sunrise Festival (Snapper UK) - 11 songs of their distinctive spacey, rhythmic transmutations - makes for a quality, stimulating viewing session, but only for those willing to delve along with the band straight into uncharted territory.

Recorded and filmed in June '07 in the Ozrics' backyard of Somerset, England, the Sunrise Festival has been regarded as one of the smaller yet highly esteemed annual festivals throughout England's countryside. Their headlining set on the festival's second night finds a band that's undergone manifold lineup changes bringing back one of their earliest incarnations (save one member). Merv Pepler (drums) and Joie Hinton (synthesizers), who were with the Ozrics in the early days but departed in '95 to permanently pursue their more electronic/rave-based project Eat Static, return in full force. Founder and nucleus Ed Wynne, as always, appears front and center with his recurring grin on guitar and keys, accompanied by wife and relatively recent addition Brandi Wynne on bass and keys.

Proving that the resulting fusion of members old and new is no obstacle for them, they tear through a collection of classics with near flawlessness, managing to even blaze the improvised "Sunrise Jam" for the first time as though it had long been in their repertoire. "Sunrise" has an intro that could pass for either ELP or ELO , then picks up with a thumping bass as Hinton gets into some knob-twiddling on synths to establish the quintessential cosmic feel that defines the Ozrics. The lead then relays from synths to guitar, over to bass, growing all the while, then finally back to synths to close it out in a triumphant-sounding announcement.

Lighting direction plays a vital part of the DVD experience, with a backdrop of extremely small pyramids (or just large tents) illuminated by multi-colored and constantly changing lights that extend into the crowd to further convey the effect of the Ozrics' fantasy-based world. The lights become significantly more evident during the rapid-paced "Erpland" and even more so with "Eternal Wheel," one of their best-known numbers. "Wheel" immediately creates a fresh, floating sensation associated with the possible passing of one realm of existence into another. The midpoint climax culminates with emanations that sound like they're coming from otherworldly creatures welcoming your arrival. The first half of the bluesy "Jurassic Shift" comes off with an unshakable Pink Floyd-esque appeal, Ed's guitars eerily resembling David Gilmour in what could be an updated and airier version of "Welcome to the Machine." By the end of its 12 minutes, however, it's difficult to remember exactly how the multi-faceted song began.

"The Throbbe," included only on the DVD, does just as its title suggests. Characterized by a Middle Eastern melody that surges and bubbles over with power, the pulsating bass throbs forth in an escalation that sees both Ed and Brandi hop on their respective keyboard setups to feed their booming monster. As the throb builds, some of the DVD's best visual effects are featured, utilizing slow-mo and warping images of band members to psychedelic imagery. At one point, a zoomed-out shot of the entire band becomes highlighted in neon colors, then zooms back into a kaleidoscopic array of sight and sound. As the kaleidoscope morphs and transforms, the music does the same, setting the stage for yet another shred-fest from Ed's guitar. The fitting visuals contributed immensely to the DVD but lacked somewhat in duration, as a non-stop barrage of this sort of eye candy would only augment the experience even more.

Though it's perfectly possible to check out Sunrise Festival casually, say, as background entertainment for a low-key gathering, in order to experience the Ozrics in all their glory, the DVD is best suited for a dark, quiet environment with an unfettered mind and a patient readiness for a sense-tingling expedition.

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[Published on: 9/2/08]

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Comments

MatthewAtienza Tue 9/2/2008 04:38PM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

MatthewAtienza

I absolutely LOVE ozric. They played a show in minneapolis earlier this year. It was a very small turn out i thought but they melted everyones face off. i sure do hope that they tour more often in the U.S.

rjd999 Wed 9/3/2008 09:46AM
-1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

ostrich testicles!

howod starstarstarstarstar Wed 9/3/2008 01:06PM
-1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

howod

one of my favorite instrumental type bands of all time...I'll be buying this CD. Thanks for the heads up.

farquha Wed 9/3/2008 01:53PM
-2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Testicles is right!! and that chick looks like Satan....i dosed at one of there shows and spent the whole night laughing AT them!!

zzdowz Thu 9/4/2008 09:07AM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

zzdowz

Ozric is crazy good. They put on a sick show last time I saw them.

sschaffner starstarstarstar Thu 9/4/2008 01:40PM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

sschaffner

what's with the random nonsensical thumbs down that i keep seeing - for example, howod says "one of my favorite instrumental bands, gonna buy the cd", and he gets a thumbs down? also, check the panic new years announcement comment board, it looks like a bunch of people went through and gave every comment a thumbs down without even reading any of them. now, if only i can get a few thumbs down for mentioning that, thanks.

ps - ozric is super weird, in a very good way.

mmmFriedFrogLegs Thu 9/4/2008 04:05PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

mmmFriedFrogLegs

i noticed the dishing out of thumbs down for no good reason as well, what gives people, schaffner i do agree they are a very bizzarre band, last time i ran into the infamous wook.17 (of ween message board and passedoutwookies fame) he told me 1983 and 1984 were the most important years in ALL(not just music) history due to the formation of phish and ozric tentacles . i mean everyones entitled to their opinions but i have reason to believe wook 17 was smoking DMT in social studies and history classes

Radio Ryan starstarstarstar Thu 9/4/2008 07:04PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Radio Ryan

I have been an Ozrics fan for 12 or so years, and part of the excitement and fun of the band has been the discovery of them, getting their older recordings, the "bootlegs" of the mid to late 80s, and studying their different phases, developments, augmentations, etc... They were live rave music back in the days when Disco Biscuits and STS9's were in pre-school. They played AT Stonehenge when there were month-long festivals there. They discovered how to mix sequenced parts live with improvisation, and their lights are intense. They are an intense band. They often recorded at a studio in the countryside of England surrounded by fresh magic mushrooms. What do you expect?