Outwardly, Ozric Tentacles have never seemed particularly well equipped for the long haul. Forged in the smoky haze of guitarist and leader Ed Wynne’s fervent imagination, the band’s sound was almost militantly unfashionable from the start.
Their later brush with mainstream recognition in the early 90s, when the psychedelic free festival movement collided with the rise of electronic dance music, seemed to happen more by luck than judgement. And yet, they’re still making music that defies time, trend and logic, 38 years after the release of their first, cassette-only album Erpsongs.
There have been a few dips in Wynne’s creative output over the decades, but Ozric Tentacles have been on particularly great form in recent years. Both the opulent splurge of 2015’s Technicians Of The Sacred and 2020’s eclectic Space For The Earth convinced in a way that the band’s records had generally not done since the glory days of Pungent Effulgent and Strangeitude.
With son Silas fully assimilated into the creative process, Wynne has plainly hit a new wave of inspiration and enthusiasm for his near-lifelong project. Lotus Unfolding confirms it, particularly through its finessed upgrading of many cherished Ozric tropes.
Perhaps in response to the ongoing state of things, the album is a predominantly serene and soothing affair: a kaleidoscopic rush of instrumental escapism with nothing but good intentions. As much as Wynne has a penchant for fleet-footed psychedelic rock with one eye on the dancefloor, his most persistent trait is his ability to conjure tranquillity from seemingly disparate and highly strung ingredients.
Storm In A Teacup encapsulates his genius across 10 meandering minutes. The liquid bass runs, courtesy of daughter Brandi Wynne, impossibly nimble drumming and skittering electronics are all present and correct, but sounding more bright-eyed and euphoric than ever before. Similarly, Deep Blue Shade starts at a familiar, future-funk clip, with Wynne’s sparse guitar set against waves of chattering synths, acid house flashbacks and esoteric percussion.
The epic Crumplepenny is the best of the lot. A fidgeting, spaced-out sprawl with several psych metal freak-outs from Wynne, it veers off at a wonky angle midway through, dissolves to a twinkly-eyed, reverb-drenched shuffle and spirals away into sweet oblivion. The fusion-tinged scampering of Green Incantation and wildly evocative closer Burundi Spaceport complete the (magic eye) picture.
The more things change, the more Ozric Tentacles are providing a highly skilled and necessary service.
Lotus Unfolding is on sale now via Kscope.