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Ozric Tentacles, Technicians of the Sacred review

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Ozric Tentacles

Technicians of the Sacred

[Madfish]

3 stars

Ecstasy. Before it was a drug taken by fans of electronic dance music, it was a state of being. In many cultures, that state is best arrived at via the transformative powers of transcendent music. Native American Shaman-led chants or the drumming rituals of deepest Africa – we don’t normally associate these with popular music. But perhaps we should. Maybe we’ve been missing the point.

For 30 years, British collective Ozric Tentacles has been doing its very best not to miss the point. As major players in the unification of the festival scene and the underground rave scene in the UK of the late 1980s and early ‘90s, Ozric was channeling trance music before “trance music” was a thing. We might call this sort of marriage of the hypnotic repetition of electronic music to the brave exploration inherent to true improvisation jamtronica these days, but when Ozric Tentacles was birthing it, it wasn’t called anything. It just simply was.

If the goal of Ozric Tentacles is to craft audio portals to euphoria for listeners, then the freshly released double-album “Technicians of the Sacred” comes closest to fulfilling such a mandate of any of the many Ozric albums filling the band’s 30-year canon. The 90-minute magnum opus combines indelible grooves with elements of dub, EDM, progressive rock and jazz-fusion, all of it wrapped in gauzy psychedelia, and all of it unfolding in a teleological manner, toward moments of musical epiphany. Listening to the album split across four sides of vinyl is, of course, the ideal, but “Technicians” manages to bring its pulsating humanity into the digital realm, too.

On this journey, song titles exist to serve as mile markers along the way, but one is meant to sit (or stand and dance) and listen to the whole thing in one go. I can’t assure you that doing so will make transparent and obvious to you the secrets of the universe. I can promise it will make you smile, though.

- Jeff Miers

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