The Floor’s Too Far Away – Ozric Tentacles
Ozric Tentacles just don't stop. The UK-born Psychedelic-NewAge-Rock-World-TheListGoesOn musical collective has enough albums in their catalogue that you’ll be lucky find all of them together (maybe rarely) in one store. Including live releases, EPs and the like, a quick Google search will throw 25-plus choices in your face. It’s easy, then, to dismiss new material when there’s already so much to hear. The Floor’s Too Far Away is mind-altering during the ride (the basis for a lot of Ozric Tentacles’ success). Organic in its design, it brings a world of musical influences together and is as good a starting point as any for anyone not having heard Ozric Tentacles previously. One reason people might shy away from new Ozric Tentacles releases is that Ed Wynne is the only remaining original member. Ozric Tentacles formed in 1984 and Wynne still keeps the arms moving, playing bass, guitar, synths and drums in various orders from track to track, but he seems to be keeping a steady hand on the entity and his wife, Brandi Wynne, now provides broad support, playing bass and synths on various tracks. Matt “Metro” Shmigelsky performs most of the drumming on this album.
Natural bird sounds and ancient Asian musical concepts melt into more Western forged trance, techno and rock influences during “Bolshem,” setting the stage for another great Ozric Tentacles CD that just can’t be categorized. Ignoring the CD player’s track times, “Armchair Journey” doesn’t sound like the previous track (“Bolshem”), but with no break between the two songs it seems as though one could not exist without the other. Wynne’s basslines on “Armchair Journey” are contemplative and could camouflage into a Bill Laswell dub project.
All of the tracks don’t fall directly into each other, but the organic evolution is still there. “Jelly Lips” has forgotten the world lean of “Bolshem” and is very much a synth recording (in a rave/house style) with Wynne shredding riffs yanked from American '80s rock. “Vedavox” sidesteps across the Atlantic to the Middle East, tablas and sitars spinning around one another and moving the energy skyward. “Space Base” could exist in a Disco Biscuits world (this bears asking if the Disco Biscuits' world could exist without Ozric Tentacles?) and “Disdots” returns to the natural elements of track one while Wynne again shreds over the top. A sedate “Etherclock” is born directly out of “Disdots” (no break between the tracks), “Splat!” descends in a techno style with what literally sounds like splats (flatulence, even) pouring out of Ed Wynne’s synth and the album wraps with “Ping,” another airy breath with Wynne pulling taffy from his fretless bass. Actually, he does it all on “Ping”: Fretless bass, guitars (nylon strings resonate), synths and drums.
Check out any of Ozric Tentacles’ releases and it’s likely that you’ll find them amazing. That said, there’s no reason not to start with the newest stuff and work your way backwards, especially when the new stuff’s this good.