Ozric Tentacles are an English instrumental rock band, whose music incorporates elements from a diverse range of genres, including psychedelic rock, progressive rock, space rock, jazz fusion, electronic music, dub music, world music, and ambient music. Formed in Somerset in 1983, the band has released over 30 albums selling over a million copies worldwide despite never having signed to a major recording label. Throughout many line-up changes over the years, co-founder and guitarist Ed Wynne has remained the only original member of the band.
Ozric Tentacles formed at the Stonehenge Free Festival in 1983, where the brothers Ed and Roly Wynne, along with drummer Nick "Tig" Van Gelder and keyboardist Joie Hinton, performed as a group originally known as Bolshem People. While playing at a jam session, the group was asked as to the name of their band, to which Ed Wynne replied "Ozric Tentacles".
Ozric Tentacles (also known as The Ozrics) gained attention for their style of psychedelic rock, which makes prominent use of synthesizers, guitars, and samplers. The band is now credited as one of the major influences of the UK festival scene's re-emergence, becoming particularly associated with the Glastonbury Festival and their handmade series of cassette releases, sold at gigs and through a fan club.
In 1989, the band started their own label, Dovetail Records, with its first release Pungent Effulgent. This was followed by Erpland in 1990, a double album. Next year the band reached their first #1 recognition in the UK Indie Chart with their single "Sploosh!" from Strangeitude. By 1993, Jurassic Shift album reached the Top 20 of the UK Albums Chart and #1 in the UK Indie Chart, spending a total of three months in the charts.
The band has gone through myriad line-up changes, with Ed Wynne being the only constant presence since the beginning. In early years, many members left to pursue similar musical projects. Nevertheless, throughout the 1990s and 2000s, the band has released albums with a prolific rate, continues to tour extensively and has maintained its identity and trademark sound. The band is famous for their live performances, in which they have long taken an audiovisual approach with elaborate lighting and projections. Currently, the band features Ed Wynne with his wife Brandi on bass guitar, their son Silas Neptune on keyboards and Hungarian drummer Balázs Szende on drums and percussion.
In June 2012, Wynnes' house in Colorado was destroyed by wild fires that had ravaged the area for over a week. The band was on tour at the time. Archived material was destroyed as was their studio and some instruments. After the fire, the band reached out to fans to help rebuild the archive.
The music of Ozric Tentacles is a combination of driving basslines, keyboards and intricate guitar work, with a sound influenced by Steve Hillage and Gong. Many of the songs incorporate unusual time signatures and Eastern-influenced modes. Furthermore, the band often utilizes complex arrangements, which include changes in time signature, key and tempo over the course of the track. The arrangements also take influence from funk, jazz fusion, dub, reggae and ambient music. These features are frequently mixed with electronic elements, including densely layered arpeggiated synthesizers, pads, synth basslines, effects and programmed drumbeats.
Ozric Tentacles also use a wide range of instruments in their performances. In addition to regular rock band instruments, woodwinds, ethnic percussion, koto, saz and sitar have appeared throughout their music.
According to Wynne, "'Ozric' is an old Viking name meaning 'divine energy', and 'tentacles' is a silly word to put on the end."
Early cassette-only albums
- Erpsongs (1985)
- Tantric Obstacles (1985)
- There Is Nothing (1986)
- Live Ethereal Cereal (1986)
- Sliding Gliding Worlds (1988)
- The Bits Between the Bits (1989)
The first six cassette-only albums were self-released before the band began recording and releasing material on CD under the label. These first six albums were released in 1994 as a CD box-set called Vitamin Enhanced. The albums were later re-released as a series of three double-disc packages, followed by a remastered reissue of the original box in 2014. In 2015, the albums were released as remastered double-LPs.
- Pungent Effulgent (1989)
- Erpland (1990)
- Strangeitude (1991)
- Jurassic Shift (1993)
- Arborescence (1994)
- Become the Other (1995)
- Curious Corn (1997)
- Waterfall Cities (1999)
- The Hidden Step (2000)
- Swirly Termination (2000)
- Spirals in Hyperspace (2004)
- The Floor's Too Far Away (2006)
- The Yumyum Tree (2009)
- Paper Monkeys (2011)
- Technicians of the Sacred (2015)
- Live Underslunky (1992)
- Spice Doubt (1998)
- Pyramidion (2001)
- Live at the Pongmaster's Ball (2002)
- Sunrise Festival (2008)
- Live in Pordenone, Italy (2013)
- Floating Seeds Remixed (1999)
- Sploosh! (1991)
- Oakum (2001)
- Xingu (2015)
In addition to the official releases, there are known to exist numerous other obscure or rare recordings from the band's many studio sessions. It was said in the early days the band even invited fans to send them blank cassettes, which they filled with tracks and returned.
- Ed Wynne – guitars, keyboards, samples, koto, sitar, fretless bass, programming (1983–present)
- Brandi Wynne – bass, keyboards (2004–present)
- Silas Wynne – keyboards, synthesizer, samples, saz (2009–present)
- Balázs Szende – drums, percussion (2012–present)
- Roly Wynne – bass (1983–1992)
- Joie "Ozrooniculator" Hinton – keyboards, samples, synthesizer (1983–1994)
- Nick "Tig" Van Gelder – drums (1983–1987)
- Tom "Zorch" Brooks – keyboards (1983–1986)
- Gavin Griffiths – guitar (1983–1984)
- Merv Pepler – drums, percussion (1988–1994)
- Marcus "Carcus" Ethnic – percussion (1988–1990, 1993)
- Generator John – drums, percussion (1989–1993)
- "Jumping" John Egan – flute (1989–2005)
- Zia Geelani – bass (1992–2004)
- Steve Everitt – bass, keyboards (1993)
- Conrad "Rad" Prince – drums, percussion (1994–2001)
- Christopher "Seaweed" Lenox-Smith – keyboards, synthesizer (1994–2003)
- Johnny Morgan – drums (2000)
- Stuart "Stu" Fisher – drums, percussion (2000–2004)
- Paul Godfrey – bass (2003–2004)
- Steve Hillage – guitar (2004)
- Harry Waters – keyboards (2004)
- Matt "Metro" Shmigelsky – drums (2004–2005)
- Greyum May – bass (2004–2005)
- Vinny Shillito - Bass (1990 - 1992) (2006 - 2012)
- Alan "Haggis" Haggarty – bass (2005)
- Paul Chousmer – keyboards (2006)
- Oliver Seagle – drums (2006–2013)
- Roy Brosh – drums (2009)
- Paul Hankin – percussion (1985–1991, 2013–2015)
- Roly Wynne was a major force in shaping the Ozric Tentacles sound in the beginning. Roly's later life had been plagued with difficulties until he committed suicide in 1999.
- Gavin Griffiths left the early line-up to form an alternative rock band The Ullulators.
- Merv Pepler and Joie Hinton formed Eat Static in 1989. They toured in parallel with Ozric Tentacles for several years until 1994, when the two left the band to pursue Eat Static full-time. Pepler and Hinton have also occasionally collaborated with Ed Wynne as Nodens Ictus.
- Christopher "Seaweed" Lenox-Smith was previously a member of the Thunderdogs and Moksha. He worked on numerous parallel projects, being a permanent member in Ozric Tentacles, Eat Static and ZubZub while collaborating with numerous musicians including Marco Lippe of Twenty Four Hours.
- Zia Geelani formed an electronic music project ZubZub after departing Ozric Tentacles in 2004.
- "Jumping" John Egan is now playing with space rock project Dream Machine. He has also played with ZubZub as well as his own band Champignon.
- Stuart "Stu" Fisher was the drummer of Hole and psychedelic rock band Keepers Brew. He is currently running a recording studio.
- Greyum May was the bass player for Firebird and Keepers Brew.
- Paul Godfrey now plays bass in The Cellar Door Sound.
- Paul Chousmer now plays with Another Green World, Webcore, Zuvuya, Astralasia and works as a sound engineer.
- Nick "Tig" Van Gelder played in Jamiroquai in 1992–1993.
The AV-400 MHz NMR machine of the chemistry department of The University of Warwick (UK) is nicknamed "Ozric" in honour of the band allegedly by multinuclear NMR expert and Ozric Tentacles fan Jon Rourke.