Ed Wynne has solved the mystery of time travel. As the keyboardist/guitarist/chief programmer/creative mastermind of the band Ozric Tentacles, Wynne traverses the ages through his primordial yet distinctly modern, mind-bending music. The Somerset, England, resident is a citizen of the world: his art knows no boundaries in time or space.
“Recently we have been playing the four corners of the world and it seems the audiences like the combination of techno rock, strange rhythmic grooves, stomping bass line, and the quasi ancient and ethnic music,” Wynne says.
Wynne jokingly refers to OT’s music as “ethnological forgery”, but Ozrics’ new Magna Carta release, “The Floor’s Too Far Away”, is far from bogus. Recorded in Wynne’s home studio in Somerset, England, the nine-track, all-instrumental CD is a musical reflection of Wynne’s centrifugal creative vision – a vision synthesized into a spiraled, multifaceted tapestry of butt-moving, trance-inducing ethno-techno space rock. “I’ve always been interested in Eastern music.” Wynne says. “But none of the scales I use are official, traditional Eastern scales. They are just snippets of what I have picked up over the years from traveling to different places and keeping my ears open.”
In many ways “The Floor’s Too Far Away” is a signature Ozrics record. Rife with incessant intergalactic grooves, the new record offers a satisfying, near state-altering listening experience. “We took a bit more time in coming up with the proper track listing for this,” admits Wynne.
Stamping their own identities on Wynne’s initial creations are Brandi Wynne (bass, keyboards, sampling) and keyboardist Tom Brooks. “I never have a complete concept of what the finished product is going to be,” Wynne admits. “It is like weaving a tapestry and then filling in the colors and little holes and polishing this and that.” Ozrics get a triple dosage of rhythmic intensity from the explosive chops of the Terry Bozzio-inspired drummer Metro, old friend and former Ozrics member percussionist Merv Pepler, and Ed’s very own programming genius. “There are some moments when you can’t quite tell if the drums are real or programmed,” Ed says with the hint of a laugh. “I’ll sometimes add strange little rhythmic twists to the real drum tracks. I’ll take a timbale sound and a click and it will repeat within a four-beat pattern as the drums are going along.”
The first track on “The Floor’s…”, “Bolshem”, recalls a distant era deeply seeded in our collective memory while informing us of a vibrant futuristic world of sonic possibilities. Its psyche-penetrating, prehistoric creature-like drone gives way to a spiraling interstellar vibe. (In visual terms: the fast cut in Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey from ape-man tool to bone-shaped spacecraft.)
Though “Bolshem” represents a kind of evolution, the song is every bit as much a re-visitation as a referendum on Wynne’s growth as a songwriter. Bolshem People was the name the Somerset-based band used as it moniker before they were known as Ozric Tentacles. “Ages ago, we were known as Bolshem People for about three months,” Ed says. “The reason the tune is called ‘Bolshem’ is because it is a very sketchy version of something I wrote around that time. It sounded very different than the version you hear, but there is a link. I never did anything with it, so I chose the title to refer to that time.”
Nostalgia, purposeful design, and a healthy dose of serendipity helped define some of the record’s most outstanding moments. Through keyboard technology, the unintentional flick of the wrist resulted in meaningful output. “‘Vedavox’ was a little funny ethnic Eastern tune that started off with a sound that came about by happy accident,” Wynne says. “It is often how these tracks start. There is this little note that comes at the beginning of the song that is a really unusual sound for that synth to make. It is a Moog Prophet Pro-1 synth, and I never heard it sound like that before. So, I just started playing this funny, little Indian-sounding tune over it.”
“Jellylips”, the CD’s third track, launches with an unidentified voice sample. Continually contorted, the mystery voice settles to the same timbre as Wynne’s throaty keyboard riffs. “I can’t say whose voice we are using,” Wynne says, “but it is shocking, isn’t it? It kicks off and you think, ‘Oh, my God, where is this going?’ It definitely breaks you out of your reverie from the track before it.”
Ed refers to “Etherclock” as the only “pop” tune on the record. In reality, the song is something akin to an outer body experience: there is something strangely soothing yet insidious about the song, as if the listener is hearing the sound of his/her own soul sliding away. Other notable tracks include the frenzied “Splat!” (think a buzzing fly headed for a car windshield), “Ping” (its melodic overgrowth chirps with the sounds of a jungle that time forgot), and the trance-ndent “Armchair Journey”, which, one can imagine, is the sonic equivalent of ancient holy men chanting magical incantations.
Wynne started from humble beginnings in the mid 1980s. Having left school when he was just 16 years old, and having learned a thing or two about composition and musical identity from listening to Frank Zappa, Hawkwind, Jimi Hendrix, Germany’s Kraan, and French art-rockers Gong, Wynne dreamed of one day making his own bold and idiosyncratic artistic statement. “I started recording on my four-track reel-to-reel with all my channels connected to a Marshall guitar amp and that was my studio at the time,” Wynne says. “But it worked.”
From his home studio, Wynne embarked on a prolific recording career as the mastermind of Ozric Tentacles, which has seen over twenty records marketed in over twenty years. The band broke barriers with their first record, “Pungent Effulgent”, and increasingly won fan support through such favorites as “Erpland” (based on the fictional character “Erp”, hatched from Wynne’s imagination), “Afterwish” and “Strangeitude.” In 1993, the Ozrics spawned the cosmic/old-world-meets-new “Jurassic Shift”, which soared to within the British top 10 pop albums chart. With one fell swoop the Ozrics were instantly identified, perhaps erroneously, with the “Crusty” movement – England’s youth culture movement that mirrored the U.S.’s ‘50s beatnik generation and ‘60s hippie revolution. “When we recorded ‘Jurassic Shift’, there were a couple of coincidental trends going on at the time which meant we were kind of cool, even though we were exactly as we were and would be,” Wynne says.
Subsequently, one of the Ed’s tunes, “Sploosh!” would be used in a BMW automobile commercial. It was a defining moment for the band: Ozrics were capable of putting butts in seats, claiming mainstream appeal, and never losing sight of its original creative intentions. Wynne continues to explore and his musical expedition unfolds into the 21st Century. All the time Wynne fine-tunes his writing, commenting on life as it was, is, and will be. “Eddie works all day,” explains wife, bandmate, and Ozrics manager Brandi Wynne. “He wakes up, has a cup of tea, then goes into the studio and stays there all day.” “Writing is pretty much what I do day to day,” Ed says, “and I am fortunate to be able to explore any number of different musical directions.”
released July 18, 2006
Guitar, Drums, Bass [Fretless], Synthesizer, Programmed By – Ed Wynne
Bass, Synthesizer – Brandi Wynne
Drums – Metro
Percussion - Merv Pepler
Bubs - Tom Brooks
supported by 4 fans who also own “The Floor's Too Far Away”
2017 marks the 50th anniversary of this band. So perhaps (besides the album that marks this impressive achievement) it's a fitting moment to look back at where it all began. T.D. caught my ear in the early '70s and I tend to think of them as the grandfathers of electronic music. It's good to hear so many artists blazing the electronic trail and thus feeding our passions. Thank you T.D. and bless you E.F. your musical vision lives on. dan johnson