Album Review: Ozric Tentacles – Lotus Unfolding (Kscope Records)

by | Apr 12, 2024 | Album Reviews, Blog

Marking their 40th anniversary, Britain’s pioneering festival band Ozric Tentacles returned in 2023 with Lotus Unfolding, a full-throttled encapsulation of their decades-long interstellar journey through space rock. This album, issued under Kscope Records, isn’t just a career milestone—it is a highlight of their discography, which has evolved from the cassette-only release of Erpsongsin 1985 through the heights of Strangeitudeand Jurassic Shift and continues from the revitalized energy of 2020’s Space for the Earth. On Wednesday, April 17th, Ozric Tentacles brings their trippy soundscapes of progressive rock, psychedelia and dance music culture to Control Club.

From the first note of Storm in a Teacup, the album grips you with a gravitational pull, capturing the essence of their early explorations into the cosmic unknown but with the polished intensity that four decades of musicianship bring. It is a veritable starburst of instrumental synergy, channelling the high-speed intensity of a meteor shower. Here, every instrument and programmed nuance contributes to a propulsive forward momentum that defines the very best of Ozric Tentacles’ expansive sound.

Deep Blue Shade follows, blending the best of their historical sound palette with fresh, vivid strokes. This track reflects the synthesized amalgamations of their mid-career zenith, recalling the danceable yet otherworldly atmospheres of Pungent Effulgent andThe Hidden Step. 

The title track, Lotus Unfolding, presents a more meditative aspect of the Ozrics’ sound. With ethereal flute at the forefront, this piece harks back to the tranquil mysticism of their late 90s work. As the other instruments gradually join, led by Brandi Wynne’s resonant bass and Tim Wallander’s subtle drumming, the track morphs into a fuller yet still reflective piece, with Ed Wynne’s guitar eventually cutting through the serenity in a way that’s both jarring and beautiful. It’s a sonic blossom that unfurls with a mature elegance.

Crumplepenny is the album’s wildcard, showcasing the band’s flair for fusing whimsical electronic elements with robust rock underpinnings. The track’s journey from quirky synth-percussive beginnings to a lush musical landscape encapsulates the quintessential Ozric experience: unpredictable yet enchanting.

Green Incantation recalls Steve Tibbetts’s experimental edges or Dif Juz’s ethereal layering, transporting listeners to an almost terrestrial space. Its funky bass lines and the guitar’s acoustic clarity synergize to form a rooted and explorative piece.

Concluding the album, Burundi Spaceport feels like a cosmic send-off. Here, the synths do more than accompany; they transport, creating an immersive environment where the guitar acts as both a guide and a wanderer. This final piece bridges the Ozrics’ foundational years and their current, evolved sound, offering a glimpse into their past and future.

Lotus Unfolding celebrates Ozric Tentacles’ 40th year and testifies to their enduring influence and continual reinvention in the space rock/psychedelic genre. For long-time followers and newcomers this album offers a comprehensive experience of a band that remains as boundary-pushing in its fourth decade as it was at its inception. This is Ozric Tentacles at their most reflective and, yet, most forward-thinking.

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