Ozric Tentacles: Tantric Obstacles (1985)
1985 couldn’t be a worst year when it comes for excellent, quality music. If all you’ve been hearing was Top 40 in those days, chances are you’d be hearing the likes of “Broken Wings” (Mr. Mister), “Would I Lie To You” (Eurythmics), “Material Girl” (Madonna), and tons of similar generic synthesized pop music. It doesn’t give you much hope when all you heard was cheesy digital synthesizers, cheesy drum machines, lyrics that emphasized teenage romance, and funny hairstyles geared for MTV.
In England, a little known band by the name of Ozric Tentacles took matters in to their own hands and released cassettes, recorded, produced, and manufactured by themselves, and sold during live gigs and in the back of their tour van. The band was a regular of the British free festival scene, and even performed at the Stonehenge Free Festival, before the authorities raided the event in 1985, and had it shut down permanently. Pretty shameful thing to happen, but not entirely surprising, as this was smack in the middle of the Thatcher administration.
1985’s Tantric Obstacles was their second cassette release and is an excellent example of space rock influenced by the likes of such excellent bands as Gong and Hawkwind. The music is all instrumental, with excellent, spacy analog synthesizers, and real drums. Plus several cuts features that cool sounding glissando guitar that creates this eerie sliding sound (much like you would hear on Gong and Steve Hillage albums).
The production on this album is more home made than their better known proper label releases from the 1990s. The ethnic influences of the band hadn’t quite shown up in this early phase in their career, but will be showing up in following releases, but the album still shows Ed’s trademark guitar style, which was still quite wild in those days, with synthesizers that sounds like they came right out of the 1970s. It’s over an hour long, so you get plenty of great music to get in to. Songs like “Og-Ha-Be”, “Shards of Ice”, “Sniffing Dog”, “Atmosphere”, “Ullular Gate”, “Trees of Eternity”, and “Mescalito” are some of my favorites here. “Sorry Style” is the first reggae piece the Ozrics recorded.
The great news is Tantric Obstacles had been reissued on CD, first as part of a 1993 box set called Vitamin Enhanced issued by the band’s own label, Dovetail, then the disc was issued separately when the box set was discontinued (because of rumors that the Kellogg’s cereal company threatened a lawsuit, because the packaging looked very similar to a Kellogg’s cereal box), and in 2000, it was reissued again on CD, by Snapper Records as a two for one deal that also included their first cassette release, Erpsongs (1985).
Tantric Obstacles might not be the first place for the Ozric newcomer to start, but is an excellent historical artifact to include in your collection.
Ed Wynne: guitar
Roly Wynne: bass
Joie Hinton: synthesizers
Tom Brookes: synthesizers
Tig (Nick Van Gelder): drums
Paul Hankin: percussion
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