About Ozric Tentacles
Ozric Tentacles are an English instrumental rock band, whose music incorporates elements from a diverse range of genres, including psychedelic rock, progressive rock, space rock, jazz fusion, electronic music, dub music, world music, and ambient music. Formed in Somerset in 1983, the band has released over 30 albums selling over a million copies worldwide despite never having signed to a major recording label. Throughout many line-up changes over the years, co-founder and guitarist Ed Wynne has remained the only original member of the band. The band is now credited as one of the major influences of the UK festival scene's re-emergence, becoming particularly associated with the Glastonbury Festival and their handmade series of cassette releases, mostly sold at gigs and through a fan club.
Ozric Tentacles formed at the Stonehenge Free Festival in 1983, where the brothers Ed and Roly Wynne, along with drummer Nick "Tig" Van Gelder, bassist Eddie Myer and keyboardist Joie Hinton, performed as a group originally known as Bolshem People. After playing a six-hour jam session, the group was asked the name of their band, to which Ed Wynne replied, "Ozric Tentacles". This name was one of the ideas, alongside "Malcolm Segments," that had come up in a humorous conversation the band had about possible names for weird or alien breakfast cereals, hence the references to breakfast cereal in several album titles and covers. According to Wynne, "'Ozric' is an old Viking name meaning 'divine energy', and 'tentacles' is a silly word to put on the end" . The music scene in early-mid 1980s England allowed the band to make use of the re-emergence of free festivals to spread their music. Underground attention for their style of psychedelic rock – which makes prominent use of synthesizers, guitars, and samplers – allowed the band to surge. Notoriety spread mostly through the circulation of bootleg cassettes in the early years, which were welcomed by the band.
Gigs were often spontaneous during this period, for the lineup of the Ozrics was fluid. Shows often consisted of whoever was available to perform that night, due to the large number of people within the band. Granted there was power available, the band would often perform for a long time, sometimes until sunrise. It was not uncommon for members of the Ozrics to contribute to other musical collaborations. This practice has stayed with the band since its origination, and has allowed many members to come and go. In 1984, the first major lineup change occurred when second guitarist, Gavin Griffiths, left the band to form The Ulluators with fellow member Joie on keyboards.
The following year saw the first official cassette release of Erpsongs, which originally did not have track titles. This was possibly due to the album being a collection of songs recorded over three years. The next release, Tantric Obstacles, was released the same year and was intended to be more of an album. These early recordings were sometimes consisting solely of Ed Wynne playing the guitars, bass, and synths. All were recorded on a TEAC 4-track reel-to-reel at their attic studio in Rushmere, a converted farmhouse on Wimbledon Common in London. Some tracks on the cassette albums are performed with a drum machine, due to the studio lacking the necessary soundproofing. As a result of two official releases, the band's popularity began to rise. This led to fans sending in blank cassettes with the intent of them being filled with live or unreleased music. The Ozrics obliged. Eventually, the demand became too much for an independent band to manage. This resulted in the third release, Live Ethereal Cereal, being a live compilation album of concerts between 1985 and 1986.
The band's sound began to adopt a wider repertoire of music towards the end of 1986. This is especially illustrated on the fourth cassette release, There is Nothing. Songs now began to highlight a space rock vibe, with flavours of reggae. This, Wynne says, was not intended, but was the result of seeing the band Here & Now perform live. The addition of more world music was the result of Joie Hinton travelling to India and Ed to Thailand. There is also a noticeable rise in quality on the 1986 release of There is Nothing, due to the purchase of a new 8-track tape machine. This allowed for more synth overdubbing and real drum tracks.
More lineup changes than ever before occurred around this time, most notably the addition of the front-man, "Jumping" John Egan and the departure of keyboardist Tom Brooks in 1987. This created a sonic gap for Ed Wynne to fill. Coincidentally, earlier in the year, Ed was busy writing "chill-out music" with his side-project Nodens Ictus, so the idea of improving his own synth skills inspired him. Despite more changes and collaborations, they managed to release Sliding Gliding Worlds in 1988, shortly before drummer Tig Velder departed from the band and was replaced with 21-year-old Merv Pepler. 1989 saw the last cassette release by the band with The Bits Between the Bits, which was a collection of unreleased recordings between 1985 and 1989. This was a filler album while the band was preparing for its first vinyl release the same year.
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