A band from another time, Ozric Tentacles served as the bridge from '70s cosmic rock to the organic dance and festival culture that came back into fashion during the '90s. Formed in 1983 with a debt to jazz fusion as well as space rock, the band originally included guitarist Ed Wynne, drummer Nick Van Gelder, keyboard player Joie Hinton, bassist Roly Wynne (Ed's brother), and second guitarist Gavin Griffiths (who left the group in 1984). The Ozrics played in clubs around London, meanwhile releasing six cassette-only albums beginning with 1984's Erpsongs. (All six were later collected on the Vitamin Enhanced box set, despite a threatened lawsuit from the Kellogg's cereal company for questionable artwork.) In 1987, Merv Pepler replaced Van Gelder, and synthesizer player Steve Everett was also added.
Ozric Tentacles' first major release, the 1990 album Erpland, foreshadowed the crusty movement, a British parallel to America's hippie movement of the '60s. Crusties borrowed the hippies' organic dress plus the cosmic thinking of new agers, and spent most of their time traveling around England to various festivals and outdoor gatherings. The movement fit in perfectly with bands like Ozric Tentacles and the Levellers, and the Ozrics' 1991 album Strangeitude became their biggest seller yet, occasioning a U.S. contract with Capitol. After the British-only Afterswish and Live Underslunky, 1993's Jurassic Shift -- featuring flutest John Egan, who would become known for his on-stage trance-dancing during the group's live performances, and new bassist Zia Geelani in addition to original bassist Roly Wynne, who departed the band in 1992 -- hit number 11 on the British charts, quite a feat for a self-produced album released on the Ozrics' own Dovetail label. The album was released in America by IRS Records, as was 1994's Arborescence. Neither album translated well with American audiences -- despite the band's first U.S. tour in 1994 -- and Hinton and Pepler left the band that year to devote their energies to their dance side project, Eat Static, releasing several albums on Planet Dog Records.
Ozric Tentacles returned to their Dovetail label for 1995's Become the Other, featuring new members Rad and Seaweed, who also appeared on 1997's Curious Corn. Ed Wynne's brother Roly, whose later life had been plagued with difficulties, committed suicide in 1999, a tragic development for the Wynne and Ozrics families. However, the band forged on, closing out the decade with the release of Waterfall Cities that year, and during the summer of 2000 the Ozrics resurfaced with Swirly Termination. The band also released Hidden Step in 2000, followed by the EP Pyramidion in 2002. Live at the Pongmasters Ball arrived in 2002 as well, their first venture to be released on both CD and DVD.
By 2004's Spirals in Hyperspace, Ozric Tentacles were largely guided by sole original member Ed Wynne, who was responsible for guitar, keyboards, and beat programming on the studio effort, which nevertheless included appearances from previous Ozrics contributors Zia, Seaweed, John Egan, and Merv Pepler, plus drummer Schoo (who had replaced Rad after the former's departure following a 2000 U.S. tour), Ed Wynne's wife Brandi Wynne on bass, and even space rock/electronica guitar legend Steve Hillage. Released in 2006, The Floor's Too Far Away continued the trend of Ozrics domination by Ed Wynne. A live appearance from June 2007 was documented in 2008's Sunrise Festival disc, and 2009 saw the release of a new studio album, The Yumyum Tree. Inspired by Lewis Carroll, the latter album featured, in addition to Ed Wynne in the leadership role, Brandi Wynne on keyboards along with bassist Vinny Shillito and drummer Roy Brosh. Yet another permutation of the latter-day Ozrics was a true Wynne family affair, with Ed joined by his son -- and the late Roly's nephew -- Silas on synths, wife Brandi back on bass replacing Shillito, and Ollie Seagle on drums. ~ John Bush & Dave Lynch