Through 25 years of changes in the world and the music that shapes it, Ozric Tentacles have been an unflappable, dependable force in psychedelic music. Despite an ever-changing lineup, the band – which formed in 1984 – has retained a singular focus. It’s hard to imagine any artist having a more consistent sound over such a long time period.
While there are subtle shifts in technology and outlook over the course of their 28 albums, their latest offering continues founder Ed Wynne’s vision of trance-inducing instrumental music that started nearly 3 decades ago. The Yum Yum Tree (CD) contains few surprises and is another chapter that fits right in with Ozric’s legacy of mind-altering, relentlessly trippy music.
Like most Ozric albums, this one is mad for synthesizers and features a treasure chest of innumerable electronic swirls, swoops and swishes that form the band’s signature sound. Wynne’s guitar, as always, investigates the nooks and crannies of songs that can hardly be considered derivative. After all, Ozric Tentacles helped create this electronic rock style, and they have remained consistent through all of the stylistic shifts that birthed genres like house, psy-trance, and drum and bass.
Over the last few years, it’s been increasingly easy for Wynne to dictate the band’s movements across the sonic landscape, since half of the band now consists of Wynnes – Ed and his wife Brandi, who provides the all-important synthesizer work. Therefore, the last handful of records have been some of the most predictable in the band’s history. Perhaps it is fitting, though, that most Ozric fans would be upset if the band changed too much. Dependability is a bit underrated when it comes to music, and this band has always delivered what their fans are looking for.
The Yum Yum Tree is pushed by sustained winds of ambient and dub textures, along with steady downpours of the unique fusion-influenced bass lines that have defined their sound from the start. The album rarely takes an aggressive stance, and it sticks close to what the current quartet does best – dramatic, textural collages of sound that glide alongside hypnotic rhythms and understated moments of tension.
The current incarnation rarely strives for full-tilt psychedelic frenzy, opting instead for moments of pristine ambiance (“Nakaru”), oceans of glimmering electronica (“San Pedro”), eastern-facing dance music (“Magick Valley”), and elastic, exploratory guitar journeys (“Oddweird”). There’s spiritualized funk to be found in the wobbly “Oolong Oolong,” and “Mooncalf” even incorporates pure dub elements in the midst of some typical sensory overload.
“Plant Music” is the only track that hints at the band’s hyper speed freakouts of years past, and it’s safe to say that the band can still turn up the heat when needed. But on the whole, this is a patient, group-focused effort that emphasizes group creativity instead of face-melting guitar workouts. The Yum Yum Tree is a satisfying, comforting experience that displays the subtle evolution of this legendary band’s unmistakable sound.