Ozric Tentacles - "Curious Corn" (Snapper Music 1997, SMACD 502)

From Aural Innovations #2 (April 1998)

The liner notes invite us to 'seven stepping stones to higher planes,' referring to the seven tracks on Curious Corn, the newest studio effort from this merry English band of squid-lovers. In what seems like only a short time, the Ozrics have produced more than a dozen albums, all in the vein of upbeat, instrumental spacerock. Without vocals and verses, they are necessarily heavy on multiple layers of synths and electronics and frequent lead guitar passages. Ed Wynne, along with Porcupine Tree's Steve Wilson, is the first real guitar hero in spacerock since the days of Steve Hillage in the 70's.

'Spyroid' starts of the album full of electronics and atmospherics over a techno-like synthesized bass setting the mood for the more formalized tracks to follow. Wynne's extended guitar solo next opens up 'Oolite Groove,' which also includes a pleasant flute solo from John Egan. The heavily-syncopated tribal rhythm of 'Afroclonk' again displays a techno/trance flavor, and features 'pipe organ' synth stylings from relative newcomer Seaweed, who capably replaces long-timer Joie Hinton. The extended jam of the title track has a Middle Eastern sound, whereas 'Oddentity' builds upon a reggae beat, a frequent vehicle for their brand of 'ethnic' space rock. 'Papyrus' could easily be called 'White Rhino Tea' Part 2; nothing we haven't heard from the Ozrics before, but still perhaps the coolest track on the album. The album signs off with the ambient grace of 'Meander,' and some fine glissando guitar work to boot.

With the techno flavor of Corn, a trend they started with Become the Other, the Ozrics are narrowing the gap between themselves and their spin-off group, Eat Static. And they're trying to give us a reason to keep picking up their albums. Even with the slightly new direction, undeniably this music still has the same feel as the albums of the late 80's, and as such, it's debatable how many more albums we need from these guys. That said, I believe all Ozrics' previous albums are enjoyable listening, and this one is no exception.

Reviewed by Keith Henderson

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