A campfire at the Stonehenge free festival in 1983 witnessed the birth of Ozric Tentacles.
It was there that composer and band leader Ed Wynne (guitar &
keyboards), and brother Roly Wynne (bass), who were performing in a
group known at the time as ‘Bolshem People’, along with drummer Nick
'Tig' Van Gelder (Jamiroquai), stumbled upon keyboardist Joie Hinton.
After a session of warming their bones and discussing imaginary
breakfast cereals, the group went to perform an impromptu late jam
session. Over the course of what became an epic six hour performance, an
audience member inquired as to the name of the band. Randomly thinking
back to the group’s former conversation, visions of ridiculous mythical
mueslis entered Ed’s mind, and consequently he replied; “Ozric
Tentacles”. (…Good job too, since some of the previous alternatives had
been “Desmond Whisps”, “Gilbert Chunks” and “Malcolm Segments”).
From that very first jam session, a musical compatibility was evoked
that has since been a trademark of the Ozric Tentacles. It's a signature
blend of hippy aesthetics and raver electronics with spiraling guitars,
textured waves of keyboards, midi, samplers, and super-groovy bass and
drum rhythms. Before long the band was laughing in dismay, as requests
came piling in from people who were looking for more music by “Ozric
Tentacles”, or “The Ozrics”, (as they had become more commonly known).
The band swiftly claimed their place as a staple of the UK's burgeoning
festival scene, and are now credited as one of the influential musical
linchpins of the scene's re-emergence.
1984 saw the band's first cassette release, “Erpsongs”. Recorded at home
on a barely more than a domestic hi-fi and lined with hand drawn
covers, it ignited the underground psychedelic scene. The album
showcased a variety of styles, which has been a characteristic feature
of the band throughout their career. Some tracks seemed a mixture of
alien, spacey sounds in a floating ambiance, while other tracks showed
the Ozrics' harder rock tendencies with a solid rhythm section
underpinning soaring guitar and synthesizer passages.
1986 was a very productive year for the band with three cassette
releases, “Live Ethereal Cereal”, “Tantric Obstacles”, and “There Is
Nothing”. Live Ethereal Cereal, record from those early festival jams,
showed the band to be hot psychedelic property indeed. There was also a
truly new and unique form of reggae and dub emerging in their recordings
intrinsic to Ozrics’ sound. ‘There Is Nothing’ featured increasingly
more ethnic elements. Scales, styles, and samples gathered by Joie on
visits to India, and Ed on trips to Thailand became deeply entwined with
the band's sound.
At Stonehenge festival the year following the bands inception, Ozrics
had picked up a second synth player, Tom Brooks, who helped to fill in
the audio spectrum with bubbling ethereal effects. In 1987 “Horse Drawn
Tom” gave up his synthesizers for greener pastures, (…after renouncing
the electricity used to power them). Following Tom’s departure, Ed found
himself forced to fill the sonic gap by focusing more on his own
synthesis and keyboard skills. (A concept that had become appealing to
Ed after releasing “The Grove of Selves” by Nodens Ictus, earlier in the
year. Nodens Ictus was Ed and Joie’s ambient project, still very
“Ozricky”, but mellower in nature and without the live rhythm section,
hence they decided that they should release the project under a
different name.) This shift would prove not only to be a comfortable
success for Ed, swapping seamlessly between guitar and keyboards, but
the ethereal sounds of his Sequential Circuits Pro-One synth, and Roland
D-50 keyboard would essentially become a molecular base of Ozrics’ DNA.
1988 saw the band's most cohesive and endearing of the early cassette
releases, “Sliding Gliding Worlds”, a favourite for many friends and
fans. Around the same time, drummer Tig evaporates, and Ozrics recruit
Merv Pepler, a 21 year old phychobilly drummer from Somerset. Merv’s raw
untrained energy, which managed to shift through multiple
time-signatures without a thought of it, would not only suit the band,
but inherently provide a solid backbone for their sound. Six months
later the band would release their last cassette-only release, “Bits
Between The Bits”, and closed the tape only period of the band with a
collection of odds and ends from the 1985 - 89.
The live performances from this time have become something of folklore
amongst the hardcore fan-base: jam sessions lasting for hours and
featuring an array of musicians. Tape trade amongst these fans has
reached the feverish dedication shown by the Dead-heads in the USA, with
similar rules of free trade and no profit.
Realizing that signing with any of the established companies would
inhibit their creative freedom, in 1989 the band formed their own record
label, “Dovetail Records”. Their first major release, (available on CD,
vinyl, and cassette), “Pungent Effulgent” invoked a clutch of rave
reviews from somewhat startled music journalists, and is also a blinding
example of the live experience and the raw energy the Ozrics put into
Throughout the early 1990's, constant touring of the UK helped the Ozric
Tentacles to build a tremendous national fan base on a grass roots
level. In 1991 the band’s first and only single was released. “Sploosh!”
scored the group a #1 in the indie charts, and spilled the band into
the mainstream. The single was released just as dance music was
exploding in the UK, and the ravers embraced its hypnotic pulse. The
subsequent album “Strangitude” took the music to a new level, leaning
towards electronic but retaining the authenticity of an Ozric recording.
By 1992 The Ozrics were the soundtrack to the summer. Travelers were
suddenly trendy and free festivals were attracting tens of thousands of
With the band's 1993 release Jurassic Shift, which debuted at #11 on the
British indie chart and climbed into the Top 10 in the National Album
Charts, the Ozrics eventually won over the adulation of mainstream
press, and found themselves heralded in publications such as NME and
Melody Maker. It was, and still is, an astonishing accomplishment for a
band with no celebrity status, and no major record label backing.
Over the years Ozrics have toured extensively both at home and abroad,
performing regularly throughout Europe, Asia, North America, and South
America. Ed’s influences are rooted in ethnic scales and the native
music of many continents, rather than from any particular artist and
this is continually illustrated in the twists and turns of each piece
and the varying sounds used in their construction. As the Ozrics
continue to create genre-free music with no boundaries in sight, it
means that their aim and goals are enthusiastically raised as they
strive to take each track to a new level, and each album must grow
substantially for the band to be satisfied.
Post 1994, along with the release of “Arborescence”, the music press had
realized that the Ozrics were never here for chart success, nor to be
the latest fad, rather to simply have the opportunity to explore their
music with an almost obsessive zeal by wringing the most bizarre and
unlikely sounds from whatever instrument they happened to be playing,
…and long may they continue to do so!
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