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Ozric Tentacles: Erpsongs (1985)

click for more info or to purchase!This is it, the very beginnings of what would become simply one of the greatest of space rock bands. In 1984/85, major record labels showed no interest in this kind of music. They’d rather push the music made popular by MTV to the public. The band knew they wouldn’t stand a chance, so they took matters in to their own hands and released cassettes themselves of their recordings, and 1985’s Erpsongs was the very first of these, recorded in 1984 and ’85.

As things go for a band just beginning, this is a pretty good effort. The production is a bit sloppy, the mixing needs a little help, and not every cut is a winner, but even here, the band proves they could make some great space rock. The first cut, “Velmwend” is one of their trademark thrashers that they like doing every now and then (like “The Sacred Turf” off There is Nothing, or “Astro Cortex” off Arborescence”).

“Fast Dots” is another favorite of mine, with use of delayed guitar and bass from Roly (who was the brother of guitarist Ed). “Thyroid” is one of the clunkers that seem to go nowhere, but they rebound with another goodie with “Spiral Mind” (not to be confused with “Spirialmind” off Waterfall Cities, which is a completely different song). “Synth on a Plinth”, while being less than two minutes long, is a way cool spacy electronic number.

“Tidal Otherness” is another electronic piece, this one reminds me of mid 1970s Tangerine Dream (i.e. Ricochet), amazing use of analog synthesizers in an era of digital synths. “Misty Gliss” is another one of those Tangerine Dream-like electronic numbers, but with that eerie sliding glissando guitar sound like you hear on Gong albums.

But the album fails the most with the last two cuts, “Five Jam” and “Oddhamshaw”, it seems to be rather pointless and formless, as if the band didn’t have the time to try again.

The cassette had been reissued on CD, first by Dovetail as part of the 1993 Vitamin Enhanced box set, then sold separately when the box set was discontinued. Finally, in 2000, Snapper Records reissued this as a two-for-one deal that also included Tantric Obstacles (their followup, also released in 1985). Despite the flaws, Erpsongs is still another (mostly) excellent historical artifact from this great band.