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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Ozric Tentacles

Sunrise Festival

Review by Gary Hill

Ozric Tentacles have outdone themselves with this live set. We not only get the killer CD here, but it also includes a DVD of the performance (actually the DVD includes on extra song not on the CD). All of this is presented in a great hard cover CD case/book. These guys work through their scorching performance with the flair they are known for. Space rock merges with fusion and jam band sounds and these guys just seem to play intuitively off of one another. The music on this set is top-notch and so is the packaging. You just can’t go wrong here.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2008  Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
...Blimey!
Ambience starts this and then it rises up in a very Hawkwind-like space rock texture. This is quite a dramatic and cool piece of music. About a minute and a half in it becomes a frantic Hawk-styled jam. This segues straight into the next piece.
0-I
They turn things into a nearly funky fusion jam here. This is a potent piece of music and it has some great instrumental work in its midst. They throw some more Hawkwind styled textures over the top of this arrangement later on, but they also bring in some more metallic modern prog sounds.
Vita Voom
In what is becoming a pattern this song just emerges out from the one that preceded it. While in some ways this doesn’t differ much from the fusion meets neo-prog approach of the last cut, I detect some serious dosages of Frank Zappa on this one. The guitar turns rather noisy and a bit noodly at times here. Mid track we get a false ending. This gives way to an ambient segment that takes us into the next cut.
Jurassic Shift
At thirteen minutes in length this is the longest number on show here. They power this out with a funky texture. Still quite fusion-like this has elements of space rock on top of it, too. This is a cool track and one of my favorites on show here. It works out into a powerhouse jam and turns a bit crunchy later, but they still manage to maintain a melodic flow. As they continue on this just gets more and more powerful and by the time they drop it back down it’s quite a screamer. This mellower motif has a bit of a mysterious Eastern tone to it and builds up gradually. This is some of the most purely progressive rock stylings (without fusion or space rock in the midst) of the whole disc. Eventually this fires out into a faster paced journey and they turn it quite metallic at times. Once more we get hints of Hawkwind in the mix. It becomes almost metal as they work it further through, but then they take it way back down again. A bass line drives this jam as keyboards work their way over the top. They end this after a melodic movement and we hear crowd noise. Then keyboards rise up that seem to actually herald the next piece.
Sunrise Jam
Coming out of the previous piece (couldn’t see that coming, could you?) this is a fast paced jam that’s got a lot of keyboard textures driving it. It’s definitely far more in the space rock, Hawkwind-like motif. They turn it more guitar oriented later and this gets quite fiery in the process. When it becomes more keyboard dominated again I’m reminded of Hawkwind’s “Motorway City” a bit. They take us through a series of change and alterations, but keep this one more melodic. It’s another extremely effective piece. They end it and we get some stage conversation and then keys rise up as the introduction to the next piece.
Erpland
This fast paced jam has a lot of Hawkind in its midst. It’s still got plenty of Ozric Tentacles uniqueness, though. They pull a lot of fusion sounds into this and turn it out into some of the more pure neo-prog stuff, too.  It shifts into some more freeform music for a while before they recover by bringing it closer to a melodic metallic prog. It is powered up later to more fiery metallic territory. A later jam is metallic and riff driven, again rather like Hawkwind, but the crunchier side of that band.
Snakepit
This comes up gradually but is pretty much equal parts fusion and space rock. As you might guess they take us from there through a series of great changes. In fact, I’d say that “Snakepit” might well be my favorite track on show here. This seems to be about the best combination of musical textures and just plain jams. After they end this track they come back in with weird sound effects that carry into the next track on the CD.
Eternal Wheel
Keyboards rise up in a bouncy pattern here as they create this piece. The rhythm section joins after a time and we’re on a new ride (this the second longest track on show here at about ten and a half minutes). The guitar brings in more of a metallic fusion approach while the other musical elements remain in place. Those two stylings combine in a killer jam. We get treated to a number of varying sections and progressions here and this is a beautiful number. There are plenty of space keys on this and lots of other intriguing sounds. We also get some more Eastern tones here and there. Whatever particular flavor of Ozric’s music you prefer you’ll find it on this track as it’s one of the most dynamic on the album. Once again they end this near the end of the physical track on the CD and then bring in the next sound from there. This time it comes in the form of some echoey fusion guitar.
White Rhino Tea
Keyboards lead off here and then they power it out into more fast paced fusion. Other elements are woven into this tapestry including more melodic keyboard dominated sounds, percussion soloing, metallic structures and more. They turn it out into a full Arabic motif for a while. This becomes quite metallic at times and then includes some of the most purely progressive rock jamming, too. It’s a classic example of if you don’t like where they are at, just wait because they’ll be somewhere else in no time. I can even make out some Rush at times on this.
Total Convergence
The final track on the disc is one of three that tops ten minutes in length. They start out mellow and hold it that way for a while. Eventually this screams out into a powerhouse jam, though. It’s but one change along the road of steady changes and alterations. Change seems the one constant in the Ozric’s sound – and this is definitely a fine example of that.
 
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