Ozric picks the fruit of The YumYum Tree & Natural Born Chillers Return
Two slices of downtempo psychedelia have crossed over recently.
Ozric Tentacles follows up their last studio album, The Floor Is Too Far Away with a new one called The YumYum Tree. It’s another foray of deeply electrified psychedelic journeys. Synthesizers pulse while drums, probably programmed by Ed Wynne, propel these grooves like a hovercraft tunneling through the depths of the Matrix. Ozric Tentacles tunnels through your mind with Wynne whipping out delirious shards of electric guitar and extended solos. I can’t say there’s much sonic variation here from any other Ozric album, but once you swallow the red pill, you’re in for a trip even if it does have a sense of “everything that has happened before will happen again.” But Wynne works with such an expansive palette that it never gets dull tossing in ethnic touches like the plucked shamisen (or is it oud) on “Oddweird” or the reggae bridge on “Mooncalf.” But usually, just the burning guitar solos over heavy fusion grooves and hyperkinetic synths on “Plant Music” are enough.
Another CD, Natural Born Chillers 2 takes multiple ethic directions and unites them on a field of electronics. As its title implies, it’s the followup to a a great 2004 collection put together by DJ Shahar and Yaniv Shulman of Israel’s AlephZero Records. Yaniv is also the Shulman behind the electronica act that takes his surname. It’s another collection of trance-global, psychedelic, down-tempo moods that shake your ass and your head. There’s a clear arc on Natural Born Chillers 2 , easing you in with Hibernation‘s slide guitar ethno-Americana ambiences and taking you out with Eitan Reiter‘s electronic scribbles and flute sampled meditation, “Coffee.”
In between is Bluetech, who ups the groove factor with “Prayers for Rain,” off his Prima Materia/Elementary Particles CDs. Ott conducts at least the third remix of this track working with Bluetech’s patented chromium electronics and melodic moiré patterns. 3 Wise Monkeys and Majan take a dub approach. The Monkeys is a lighter, jammier party with sixties touches of jazz flute while Majan’s “Explore It” has a darker dub hue, with skronky fuzzed synth leads and a nastier groove that takes a more prosaic turn halfway through with, once again on this collection, some slide guitar. Tau Kita takes the Sphongle approach of hiccuping, glitched vocal samples emerging into grooves that shift from mad fusion runs to pastoral, Indian ruminations, all underscoring a cavalcade of sampled riffs and sound effects.
Agalactia with Midival Punditz shifts the mood to India with singers intoning rhythmic bols and funky Bollywood grooves with sitar flourishes, and the Punditz go it on their own with “Vande Maataram (Electro-Indian Mix).” The whole Kirtan chant fusion thing has gotten tiring but Outersect, from San Francisco, takes it on a different tact with Betsy-La‘s powerful vocals pushing this in a pop direction that reminds me of Sandy Denny from Fairport Convention, but over funky eastern grooves and percolating synth pads. There’s a few other treats on NBC2, including Pi‘s sultry and hypnotic, smoke-filled lounge grooves on “Numb.”
Rave culture has faded, the circuit boards of electronica are frayed and global fusion is becoming homogenized, but the musicians of Ozric Tentacles and Natural Born Chillers 2 are still sounding like they’ve just discovered it for the first time. And in the case of Ozric, who have been around since 1985, that’s quite an accomplishment.
By the way, while seeking out a meaningful definition of Yum Yum Tree, I came across this video by the rapper Ludacris. Remember when drug references were coded like “White Rabbit” and “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds?’
John Diliberto ((( echoes )))