OZRIC TENTACLES — Paper Monkeys (review)

OZRIC TENTACLES — Paper Monkeys album cover Album · 2011 · Jazz Related Rock Buy this album from MMA partners
3.5/5 ·
With their origins dating back to the early eighties, England's Ozric Tentacles have garnered a reputation as one of progressive rock's most unique psychedelic acts. Their one-of-a-kind mix of trippy psychedelic aesthetics, electronic instrumentation, fusion-inspired compositions, and spaced-out atmospheres has also earned them a fairly large group of followers and a relevant place in the modern progressive scene. Like them or not, Ozric Tentacles are an unignorable force in the modern experimental music world, and Paper Monkeys further secures their spot as a band worthy of your attention. Though I've only sporadically listened to previous Ozric Tentacles albums, I like what I hear on Paper Monkeys and it will only be a matter of time before I more thoroughly investigate their music.

On Paper Monkeys you'll find an upbeat, psychedelic, electronic-fused brand of instrumental space rock that's pretty similar to what the band did on 2009's The Yumyum Tree. The music here is characterized by spacey synth tones, funky basslines, jazzy drumming, and lots of quirky psychedelic aesthetics. For anyone even mildly acquainted with Ozric Tentacles (especially their more recent efforts), Paper Monkeys shouldn't come as a terrible shock. What we have here is the band doing what they do best - delivering music that's atmospheric and soothing, yet still complex and fun to listen to. All of the tunes here are pretty solid, with songs like "Knurl" (I love the sitar on this track), "Lost in the Sky", the title track, and "Will of the Wisps" standing out as highlights. The musicianship is seldom too demanding, but it's always professional and well-played. Ed Wynne's fretwork is especially impressive - that man simply knows how to play with soul and spot-on precision, and that's exactly what I look for from a great guitarist. The production took a little while for me to get used to on Paper Monkeys, but the somewhat electronic sound did eventually grow on me to the point where I consider this a perfect fit for the compositions on this album.

Paper Monkeys may not be a drop-dead gorgeous masterpiece, but it's a very solid observation to add to Ozric Tentacles' canon. I really have had a pleasure experiencing this album, and even though it occasionally fades into background music, I still have a difficult time calling Paper Monkeys anything less than a successful effort. I'd say Paper Monkeys is well deserving of a solid 3.5 stars, as well as a warm recommendation. Fans of the band, as well as psychedelic rock in general, will definitely want to put this one on their wishlists.
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