Ozric Tentacles – Eternal Wheel: The Best Of

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Album Review by Mark Bayross

Back in the 80s, Ozric Tentacles were a regular fixture on the free festival circuit, a free form space rock collective that would regularly turn out three-hour sets of improvised electro-jamming with a revolving door of onstage musicians. The brainchild of guitarist / programmer Ed Wynne, the band’s sound has evolved to overlap into techno and rave, all the while incorporating enough “world music” exoticism to keep your average ‘shrooming crusty grinning madly well into the night.

ETERNAL WHEEL collects together many of the touchstone tracks of Ozrics’ 20 year career, although distilling a whopping 22 albums – once you take side projects Eat Static, Nodens Ictus and Ullaltors into account – onto a comprehensive “best of” was always going to be a tall order.

The track list concentrates on the 90s albums, opening with the epic JURASSIC SHIFT from the Top 10 album of the same name, and finishing with the pulsating techno of their one bona fide hit SPLOOSH! (the success of both something of an achievement as they were supported entirely by word of mouth alone).

Along the way, we are treated to a shifting variety of styles from Arabic flourishes (MYRIAPOD) to furious guitar wig-outs (VIBUTHI) to reggae (SULTANA DETRII), and lots in between, often in the space of one song. It’s one mind-melting synthesis of The Orb, Hawkwind, Steve Hillage and Hendrix…in short, Hippie Heaven.

The album comes with a bonus disc that includes more of the same music-wise, plus a live clip of KICK MUCK taken from their LIVE AT THE PONGMASTER’S BALL DVD.

This collection serves as an excellent introduction to the Ozric Tentacles and, while the new agey bits may not be to everyone’s taste, you can’t fault the overall vibe. On the plus side, if you enjoy this, there’s a lot more Ozrics music out there to investigate, on the minus side, 22 albums will put a dent in the old bank balance.

4 stars