Year of Release: 2006
Label: Magna Carta
Catalog Number: MA-9085-2
Total Time: 59:46:00
I've listened to Ozric Tentacles off and on since buying Jurassic Shift years ago, and make no claims to being an expert. That said, and despite that, The Floor's Too Far Away seems to be a mostly grounded adventure in music. All but one of the tracks has a distinct focus and direction to them, even as they are evolving and amorphous beasts. What I like here is the brightness of sound - the production is very clear, crisp allowing all the colours of sound to show through. And believe me I can hear in the music that the band is painting colours, bold, psychedelic colours. Each piece is alive, perhaps because of the use of effects; and to say this is an effects laden album would be an understatement. Yes, there's also guitar, bass, and drums at play, and I don't think we need fear that any of the players - Ed Wynne, Brandi Wynne, Matt "Metro" Shmigelsky, Merv Pepler, and Tom Brooks - are not allowed to stretch out. Something is always going on, but never to the point of being too busy (though a section of "Splat!" comes close). It is an entertaining release to listen to, or to have on for ? atmosphere. It's not relaxing in any way, but it is freeing.
The Floor's? begins with "Bolshem" a piece that takes a while to get going - it starts sparse with a moaning, fog-horn-like guitar and chirping effects, moves through gossamer-like keyboard washes that also have a slightly Asian-music quality to them, that then evolve into spindly wheels of sonic texture. But once the track does kick into gear, it is a heart-pounding sonic adventure. Not so much rollercoaster ride as cruising down the highway fast (said from experience). You can imagine it being used behind extreme sports footage of daring skateboarders or snowboarders or skiers (etc.). I've still got the band's NEARFest performance light-show going through my head, and this music fits that kind of effect perfectly.
It blends right into "Armchair Journey," an arboreal like piece, rainforest dense and wet, with more chirping effects (some actual recordings), feathery percussion, and subtle guitar accents. While it might suggest I have an unnatural fixation, I thought of 90's Marillion, in terms of approach, though this is far more psychedelic and not just an atmospheric transition between two prog rock songs. Like its predecessor, this track builds into something palpable. New sonic effects provide context over soaring and searing guitar leads, throbbing bass, energetic drums and percussion (without the sound effects, it seems a little like late 80s/early 90s Rush).
"Jellylips" defies description -- there is something firm, yet jiggly about the arrangement. But, does one sense that knowing the title or despite the title? And when the guitar gets a soloin', one wonders what lip-gymnastics are being imagined there ? lips doing the Macarena? The Wave? The Hand Jive? There is more than a hint of a psychedelic feel, owing to the percussive sound effect stuttering throughout, and the open, freewheelin' play of the drums, bass and guitar (in rhythm mode).
"Spacebase" is what the title suggests (even if the spelling doesn't), a spacey bass-centric piece, though no actual bass is credited - instead guitar, synths, drums, spacelines, bubs, synchroblips. Yet, this piece throbs mightily. It'd be appropriate for a show like Red Dwarf or the like, because there's a hint of fun in the whole arrangement that almost any other sci-fi show would be too serious for (even Dr. Who). Or maybe a blooper reel for those otherwise serious sci-fi shows (and suddenly William Shatner as host comes to mind). "Etherclock" begins and ends as moody and ethereal composition, mostly down to the keyboards. But in the middle, it has a mellow jazz-rock and guitar-rock feel to it, owing to the guitar playing of Wynne. Elements that sound like Rhodes piano also add a jazz flavor to it. And you can't help but think of Pink Floyd at times, as there's a touch of Dark Side Of The Moon here and there. "Vedavox" sounds at once Asian and Middle Eastern; Ed Wynne (guitars, bass, synths, etc.) is credited with "Eastern Flavors" - what I hear is sitar, keyboard effects, percussion all played in a rhythm too quick to be called seductive, and yet it is. "Ping" is Wynne on everything (again) - fretless bass (the lead instrument), guitars, synth and drums. The fat sound of the bass contrasts with the slim sound of the synths and the crispness of the drums. Electric guitar is a hazy accent and at one point Wynne solos on acoustic guitar (steel stringed, from the distinctive sound of it).
"Disdots" is the one piece that seems? Whereas most of the tracks seemed to have a distinct direction, as I said above, this one not so much, as it is like a series of ideas are strung together: It begins life as a dark and dangerous piece with searing fuzzed guitar, ghostly-moaning bass, more bits and bobs of sonic effects. It's quite acidic. It involves into something only slightly less menacing but certainly spacier. And later into a long section that includes sharp, sometimes shrill, guitar soloing as the central figure while the requisite sonic effects - including at times more bird chirps - swirl and dance and flit and float all about.
I really dig The Floor's To Far Away. Once it gets going, it will carry you along until the very end (the "bump" in the journey being "Disdots," though it isn't a bad track; more like three good ones, I'd say). Those new to Ozric Tentacles should check this out; those more experienced? this is either more of the same (as someone told me "if you have one OT CD, you have all you need") or something fresh for them. If there is a criticism to be said, it is that some of the tracks seem the same as each other, and not in the "restating a theme" concept album kind of way. I like this anyway.
Bolshem (4:48) / Armchair Journey (5:53) / Jellylips (6:07) / Vedavox (2:51) / Spacebase (9:36) / Disdots (6:48) / Etherclock (8:01) / Splat! (8:59) / Ping (6:39)
Ed Wynne - guitar, synths, samples, bass, eastern flavors, forest, drums, fretless bass
Brandi Wynne - bass, synth, wildlife, spacelines, space tendrils, stuff
Metro - drums
Merv Pepler - percussion (2)
Tom Brooks - bubs, synchroblips
Tantric Obstacles (1985/1994)
Live Ethereal Cereal (1986/1994)
There Is Nothing (1986/1994)
Sliding Gliding Worlds (1988/1994)
The Bits Between The Bits (1989/1994)
Pungent Effulgent (1989/1990*)
Sploosh/Live Throbbe (12-inch single) (1991)
Afterswish (comp.) (1991)
Live Underslunky (1992)
Jurassic Shift (1993/1998)*
Vitamin Enhanced Ozric Tentacles (6 CDs) (1994)
Arborescence (3-sided LP w/extra track) (1994)
Become The Other (1995)
Curious Corn (1997)
Spice Doubt - Streaming A Gig In The Ether (ltd ed webcast live CD) (1998/2003)
Floating Seeds (remix album w/var. artists)(1999)
Waterfall Cities (1999)
The Hidden Step (2000)
Swirly Termination (2000)**
Pyramidion (ep) (2001)
Oakum (Ozric fan club only) (2001)
Live At The Pongmasters Ball (CD/DVD) (2002)
Spirals In Hyperspace (2004)
Eternal Wheel, The Best of Ozric (2004)
The Floor's Too Far Away (2006)
Nodens Ictus - Spacelines (2000)
*CD has extra track; **not an official or recognized OT release
Genre: Psychedelic/Space Rock