Space For The Earth by Ozric Tentacles

Release date: October 9, 2020
Label: Kscope Records

I’ve been listening to Ozric Tentacles for a little over six years now, the product of a fairly typical late-adolescent search for “good music for tripping”. They had existed on the peripheries of my musical knowledge prior as a band played by friends of my parents or people that I would late discover are absolute wreck-heads. However, my personal experience of the band began in during a deep dive into psychonautic self-eradication. At war with reality, I worked to shatter my perception of a world filled with toxic ideology and suffering and found myself divorced from everything logical and tangible.

There in the alien territory of my own exhausted psyche, I found a group of artists who where as disenfranchised from society as I was: The KLF, The Orb, Ott, Shpongle and Ozric Tentacles. Even now, I’m reticent to try and pin them into a genre, but it’s truly the music of people operating on a totally different plain of existence. There’s an inherent magic in their music, it feels extraterrestrial, but not in a way that’s terrifying,  in a way that’s welcoming and liberating. It is thus befitting of the Ozric’s oeuvre that their latest release be titled Space For The Earth and I will pre-face this review by saying that it is a record equally excellent to any other in their discography.

I really wanted to road test this album, but there’s not been a good time in my life to trip for the entire time I’ve had this for review. With pandemics, lockdowns, work, redundancy, furlough, loss of furlough and recently having extremely bad experiences with local drug addicts, my head has been in a very bad place since I first approached this review and as a result of decided to give up any hope of reviewing this while tripping. Too sad. Ah, well, there’s always my birthday.

‘Stripey Clouds’ opens the album with some well-saturated guitar lines, there’s something so friendly about the Ozric’s sound, I guess it is literally designed to help people have a nice trip. There’s these kind of like jungle adventure rhythmic synths that just seem really sincerely fun, it reminds me of Kingdom Hearts actually. However, the guitar solos here are fucking awesome and I don’t remember Kingdom Hearts having such gnarly licks. I like how many times the vibe and arrangement fluctuates in this track, definitely good for restless experiences of time splintering.

‘Blooperdome’, I love the names of the tracks, especially the ones that sound a bit silly. The sophomore entry to Space For The Earth is kind of a more chill track than its predecessor, but it has some really wacky filter-sweeps or maybe pitch-shifts. It’s actually hard to tell what is happening, but the sounds seem to bend the audio in a really interesting way. When the acoustic instrumentation enters the slides kind of replace this role in the track, but I have no idea if it’s a guitar or an oud or a mandolin or a bazouki or a banjo or whatever else that is playing. The synths that seem to carry the crux of this album sound like some kind of super nintendo birdsong, it’s very comforting. The percussion also provides a solid foundation and a heavy pulse, there’s often more gentler stuff like bongos, but what also sounds like a mixture of programmed and live drums delivered with a great deal of zen.

‘Humbolt Currant’ is a perfect encapsulation of this album as a whole and I can’t get over the astoundingly brilliant guitar and synth playing. It’s interesting to listen to Ozric Tentacles totally sober and not as the background, but as my sole focus. I’ve always found their albums to be really fucking great, but the nuances and the layering and the sheer genius of some of the instrumental work is totally mind-blowing. ‘Popscape’ has guitar playing that sounds like David Gilmour on acid and I don’t mean during the part of the trip where you’re fucking useless, I mean the part of the trip where you can catch a thimble being thrown to you across the room. The synths are also kind of reminiscent of the more frenetic and psychedelic Floyd output. ‘Climbing Plants’ is so nice, I can’t help but think about Ed Wynne telling me he just wants everyone to have a nice trip with his music. It’s just really explorative and fun and consistently feels like some kind of god-tier outtake from the Crash Bandicoot OST.

‘Space For The Earth’ feels a little bit more mysterious than the rest of the album, the flute/woodwind sounds are super chill and the guitar work sounds like J. Mascis on a morphine drip. I can see myself so blissed-out to this album, but it’s bittersweet knowing that experience is so far away. Big fuck you to people eat endangered species and keep them in shitty conditions. Also, big fuck you to the Torys. But, I digress. ‘Harmonic Steps’ brings the album to close with a sense of awe and urgency, the word I just realised I’m looking for is excitement, but I genuinely forgot what that was for a moment there. Go figure. The track acts as an epic conclusion for a fantastic journey, but I can only imagine what it is like to listen to as intended, it’s pretty fucking good sober though.

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