Hailing from sunny Somerset, Ozric Tentacles have enjoyed over three decades of serving up their inimitable blend of psychedelia, space rock, prog and electronica, with a few other styles stirred into the mix for good measure. Favourites of the (formerly) free festival circuit – the band actually formed at the Stonehenge Free Festival and have performed at Glastonbury – The Ozrics, as they’re also known, now have well over 20 albums to their name.
The follow-up to 2011’s Paper Monkeys is also the band’s first double album since 1990’s classic Erpland. Centred as ever around guitarist and remaining founder member Ed Wynne, Technicians Of The Sacred finds the quintet in fine form; their waxing, waning, forever-in-flux freakery they’re famous for sounding as stellar as ever.
Disc one – or side A should you plump for the double-vinyl version – blasts off with The High Pass, which even if not a sly-winking drug reference, can readily be turned into one. One of a clutch of mini-epics pushing and occasionally exceeding the ten minute mark, its trademark swirling synths, pulsing basslines and trancelike rhythms find us immediately plunged into the band’s enchanting and immersive Never Neverland. The dub-flavoured Butterfly Garden continues; its treated vocal samples recalling the Ozrics’ use of the voice as an instrument in itself, melting into the maelstrom as opposed to glorifying a typical cock-of-the-walk rock frontman. No egos here if you please…
The driving grooves of both Changa Masala and Zingbong present the band’s dance-friendly face; let’s not forget that they helped bring together disparate elements of the free festival and rave scene during the transition from the 80s to 90s. The dreamy Far Memory then gives way to another mini-epic, Switchback, and the album’s first half fades out.
Disc two (we’re on side C now, vinyl vultures) opens with the Epiphlioy which displays a decidedly Mediterranean feel, albeit as in the Mediterranean on Mercury or Mars. Cosmic chillout The Unusual Village is up next, followed by the delightfully quirky Smiling Potion which in turn gives way to the moody Rubbing Shoulders With The Absolute before our heroes make their euphoric exit with the bubbling beauty of Zenlike Creature.
Sumptuous, densely layered and tantalisingly transcendent, Technicians Of The Sacred is a testament to the integrity, independence and endurance of a band whose uplifting, life-affirming and often joyous music has brought pleasure to untold thousands and, who knows, maybe made the world just that little bit brighter along the way.