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Ozric Tentacles: Waterfall Cities (1999)

click for more info or to purchase!After the Ozrics released Curious Corn in 1997, the band faced some bullshit with their then new label, Snapper Records. A 1998 followup, Swirly Termination was shelved until 2000, and was basically not supported by the band (the band didn’t even want that album to be released). Apparently their relationship with Snapper had been since revived. But in between that time, they started a new private label, Stretchy (named after a cut from their 1993 album Jurassic Shift) and a deal in the U.S. with Phoenix Rising (a label, unfortunately, that went under in 2001). Waterfall Cities was the first album under their new Stretchy label, and is perhaps one of their least accessible albums. Of course, it’s not a bad album, just that the music needs more listens to appreciate than their other albums.

Apparently what the band wanted to do this time around was see how many notes and electronic effects and sounds they can fit in to each song. The first two songs, “Coily” and “Xingu” seem a bit drawn out, although the former features some great guitar work. The latter features some rather irritating synth sounds that just don’t stop. But the real good stuff coming up, with the amazing “Waterfall City”, which really shows the band stretching out with great space jams, and a pulsing, techno-like passage in the midde. “Ch’ai” is a rather Chinese-influenced number with some great funky synth bass. “Spiralmind” is perhaps the album’s best cut, along with “Waterfall City”, pretty much covering similar territory. “Sultana Detrii” starts of in reggae territory, something that seemed pretty absent in the Ozric’s work since 1990’s Erpland (“Iscence” off that album was their last reggae piece up until Waterfall Cities).

It’s nice to see the Ed, Zia, John, Rad, and Seaweed lineup finally do a reggae piece. The second half of the song moves away from reggae and more typical Ozric territory, with some great exotic use of flute at the end. The album ends with a more ambient piece, “Aura Borealis”, with some great spacy synths at the end. Nice to see Ozrics pull off another fine album in an era of N’ Sync, the Backstreet Boys, Britney Spears, etc. (I am totally convinced if kids were exposed to the likes of Ozrics, they might not think those boy bands were so great).

Waterfall Cities isn’t the best place for the Ozric newcomer, even their previous and following efforts (Curious Corn, The Hidden Step) are better places to start, it’s still a find album to include in your collection.