Ozric Tentacles - "Swirly Termination"
(Madfish Records 2000, 128212)
From Aural Innovations #20 (July 2002)
Swirly Termination was recorded as a contractual obligation to Snapper Music, after the band had had a falling out with the label. As such, they refused to support it on tour or with interviews. It could have ended up just being one of those albums that slips into obscurity, but the band announced some good news recently.
In a notice posted on May 16th, 2002 on The Ozric Tentacles Official Web Site, the band said: "After parting company with our previous manager Tony Nunn, we have found out the full facts of the case with Snapper Records (who currently control our back catalogue) and want to retract any statements we posted about them in the past and offer a full apology to them, which we unreservedly give here. We are now working with Snapper again and we strongly encourage everyone to go and buy the Ozric back catalogue on Snapper."
I'd put off picking this one up, partially because of the band's wishes, and partially because I had heard it wasn't that great, just something they knocked off to meet their contractual obligation. But now that Ozric Tentacles are back with Snapper, and everything is hunky dory (Swirly Termination is now listed in their official discography on their web site as a 2002 release), I decided to finally check it out.
And what a surprise! Swirly Termination turns out to be a fantastic album, and has become my most played Ozric's CD of the summer of 2002. I think the key here is that the band didn't spend a lot of time producing the album. It has less of a glossy sheen to it than recent OT albums, with a more spontaneous feel, like their earlier material. Also like their early stuff, they eschew the techno experiments in favour of straight ahead space jamming. And while it still sticks to the tried and true Ozrics formula, the band does tend to venture out on a few limbs here and there, laying down some terrific vibes along the way.
Getting things going is Steep, the shortest track on the album, but still one of my favorites, with its cool acoustic guitar patterns, deep Zia bass, and blazing electric solo from Ed. The studio version of Spice Doubt (called Spaced Out here) is actually less atmospheric than its live counterpart, but its a lot tighter and really full of beans. Tasty stuff! Pyong features some nice drum work from Rad and some freaked out "swirly" flute blowing from John. Another one of my favorites on the album is Far Dreaming, a wonderfully mystical sounding piece with some of Ed's finest guitar work, which seems to weave around and through both bluesy musings and Middle Eastern modalities. Waldorf Dub is spacey reggae in the classic Ozric's style, but also has some truly flippy alien "dialogue" courtesy of Seaweed. Kick 98, a redone version of Kick Muck (originally from Pungent Effulgent), has a brighter sound than the original, due in part to some more advanced electronics, but overall I can't really say which version is better. Although this new version totally smokes the old one right at the very end-you'll hear what I mean! The album closer, Yoy Mandala, is a 12-minute melange of different Ozric styles, in the tradition of Ayurvedic. We get dub reggae and Indian voice samplings that all build into a colossal, frantic space jam to finish things off.
If you're an Ozrics fan who, like me, has been hesitating picking up this album, do yourself (and the band) a favor, and grab it. You won't be disappointed!
For more information you can visit the official Ozric Tentacles web site is at http://www.ozrics.com.
Reviewed by Jeff Fitzgerald