As of mid-2018, the Ozrics are on hiatus, and the fate of the band is uncertain. Bandleader and chief composer Ed Wynne returned to England to record a studio album, and Ozric tour dates have ceased. Beyond that, not much else is known. Outside of a core group of listeners, usually decades-long fans, the comings and goings of this instrumental group have never been much of a buzz generator - even at the band's inception 35 years ago, Ozric Tentacles were something of an anachronism. Unwaveringly championing elements of Gong, Hawkwind, Mahavishnu Orchestra, mixed in with splashes and textures of reggae, electronica, and psytrance, it is no surprise that many of the group's fans are older than the band members themselves. The relative obscurity of the band and their ceaseless dedication to their initial musical vision has resulted in a sort of rabid, insular fanbase, and naturally, the prospect of no more Ozric Tentacles releases is a frightening one to the diehards who would prefer all music sound like these guys.
Not to take anything away from the innumerable talented musicians who have backed the man for decades, but many fans might not have realized until now that every Ozrics release is essentially an Ed Wynne solo album. While many artists go solo in an effort to establish themselves as unique forces of talent to be reckoned with, to establish a separate identity from the band they're most known for, listening to Shimmer Into Nature
almost makes you wonder if Wynne went solo to show the world that he is
Ozric Tentacles. Everything fans have come to love and expect about an Ozrics album is present here. Swirling, layered soundscapes of beautiful keyboards, a pulsating, tight, yet adventurous rhythm section, all brought together by Wynne's trademark Hillage-meets-Holdsworth liquid tone. The usual influences are all there - "Travel Dust" has elements of reggae and Latin jazz, and every song features a meltdown type of guitar solo where the energy reaches its climax and Wynne shreds like a madman, albeit tastefully and incredibly effectively.
What makes Shimmer
stand out in respect to recent Ozric releases, and what makes it stand clearly above 2015's Technicians of the Sacred
, is its reliance on relaxed, chilled-out soundscapes, as opposed to the upbeat, trance-driven, MDMA grooves that have grown to define much of the Ozrics' output since 1999's Waterfall Cities
. This is not to say that trance elements have been completely eschewed, or that this is a return to the guitar-driven, Mahavishnu-esque stylings of their 80's or early 90's work. But Shimmer
is definitely some of the most pleasant and relaxing music Wynne has been involved with in some time - some of the soloing on "Oddplonk" is reminiscent of Aja
-era Steely Dan. With most of the tracks reaching eight minutes in length, it seems Ed Wynne is more interested this time in building and sustaining different moods, as opposed to unleashing a balls-out acid dance. Most of the tracks start slow and subtle, slowly growing in energy.
While fears that Ozric has come to an end may be valid, the truth is that as long as Ed Wynne is alive and releasing music, the core spirit of Ozric Tentacles is still out there.