Live Reviews

Ozric Tentacles @ Scala, London

31 May 2001


A curious crowd in a curlicued building attended the final date in the Ozrics’ latest UK tour. The capacity audience was an odd mixture of vague hippies, gnarly rockers, clean-cut students, the occasional spooky goth and even a wizard. The smoky air was fragrant; the atmosphere expectant.

The band appeared: ragged, dreadlocked, skinny, smiling, looking as if they had just drifted in from somewhere very remote and colourful. Backed by trippy visuals and twirly disco lights, the Ozric Tentacles set off on a fascinating safari through many eclectic soundscapes.

The two-hour set featured tracks from the newly-released mini-album Pyramidion. Pixel Dream is one of these, a speed ambient chase through space: breathless, sparkly and gentle. Different moods and textures were explored elsewhere. Sploosh is loveable and unique: a squelchy, effervescent tune with an irresistible dance beat. On occasions, the pace came down to a soothing dub pulse and at other times exploded into a rocket-fuelled superphonic frenzy.

Strangeitude was a more shadowy experience, evoking the image of a mysterious snake-charmer in a damp, echoing dungeon, before running away with the audience through haunted passages and out into the night desert.

Influences from Egypt, India and other ancient civilisations feed the prolific imaginations of the Ozrics. These strands are woven together with contemporary Western styles to create truly beautiful sonic tapestries. Saucers is one if the most elaborate of these creations. It combines elements of Eastern European folk with synthesized bubbles, syncopated rock guitar and jazz-style percussion. Bright ribbons of harmony shot with light swirl and unfurl before floating weightlessly to earth. Utterly mesmerising and unbelievably complex, the live performance of this composition was awe-inspiring.

The Ozrics gave their artistry to the audience with generosity and warmth. Enthusiasm and appreciation were mutual. The result was a unified gathering with a festival spirit. The collective consciousness expanded beyond the intimate confines of the Scala on a shared journey of the senses. Unwilling to return to their tangible surroundings, the enraptured fans requested three encores. The final tunes were the full moon rising as the sun set, leaving the audience elevated and fulfilled.


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