The Globe, Cardiff
Wednesday, 15th December 2021
Christmas comes early to Cardiff! And just in time too by the look of it, given the upward trajectory of the new Covid variant.
While ‘Omicron’ could easily be the name of an Ozrics support act, that duty fell tonight to Silas & Saski, who released a very enjoyable OT influenced EP, Power of Three, in the early part of lockdown last year. The link with the headline act is not surprising as Silas Neptune is the son of Ozrics’ mainman Ed Wynne, also forming 50% of the current ‘Electronic’ version of the band. So, for the first part of his double shift…
Silas & Saski bring their ethereal spaciness to warm the crowd up nicely. Silas mans the synths and guitar while Saskia Maxwell adds the vocals, colouring the music with flute and acoustic guitar whilst forging an engaging focal point with her whirling dances, which accentuated the Eastern tinge to much of the music. The set ranges far beyond the EP, with two of its three tracks appearing, and it’s lovely stuff, Saskia singing in her highest registers to add that angelic quality as Silas nails down the rhythms and adds occasional raunch with electric guitar, all delivered before an impressive back projection. There’s a relaxed and purifying aura to the music, but the set doesn’t quite cross the boundary into all-encompassing, mainly due, I think, to the restrained volume level. And that would be my only small criticism of the set: slightly more heft to the sound would probably have lifted the material even more. However, it’s not all about volume and the attention to detail was there for all to see in a very enjoyable and well-received 45-minutes or so.
As Ed and Silas emerge it becomes clear that Ozric Tentacles Electronic is going to be a thing of immense power, unlimited by the fact that there are only two of them on the stage. It really doesn’t matter that this iteration of the band is a stripped down affair, as the sound is as full as you’d ever want, layered, and structured to form the basis for the synth and guitar soloing of the protagonists. It really doesn’t sound like a lot of the rhythms and sounds are programmed/sampled or whatever; close your eyes and it’s a full band doing their thing. It’s always good to hear Ed soloing to the stars and, along with making essential sense for the cost effectiveness of a touring outfit, this is probably the best vehicle for him to do what he does best, and that’s hugely impressive this far into his long career, that now stretches back almost 40 years.
The sound is big, confident and full of expansive rhythms. With the light show going mental, it’s the perfect combination of sound and vision and there are immediate smiles throughout the venue. I defy anyone to go to an Ozrics gig and not end up grinning from ear to ear, and opening the set with Eternal Wheel, the first track of their magnificent 1990 double album Erpland, was a masterstroke, immediately ticking all the boxes for me as that album was a soundtrack to a good portion of my first year working in a record shop (Erpland nestling in my ‘Album of the Week’ display slot for MANY weeks!).
The set went on to take in energetic workouts and mellower grooves, featuring tracks from the likes of Sliding Gliding Worlds (1988) and Arborescence (1994), right through to the band’s most recent album Space for the Earth. The classic Pungent Effulgent from 1989 featured with two tracks, including a blinding Kick Muck, Ed firing off the quicksilver focal riffing with aplomb. There’s even a track from Ozrics ethereal spin-off band Nodens Ictus.
With rhythms moving from driving to a dubby throb of bowel-loosening bassiness, there’s much grooving and full-on dancing amongst the faithful. The soloing from both men is spot on. Alongside Ed’s astonishing guitar, the synth additions and accents make it all work magnificently, Silas peering inscrutably over his rig while Ed loses himself in the spiralling vortex of sound. Saskia returns to add flute to a couple of tracks, and like the Gong show I saw at the same venue in 2019 (where Ed performed a support set with a four-piece band, including Silas), there were moments in the set where the whole audience appeared to levitate, feet dangling as faces fell into blissed-out images of zen-like calm. The floor is, indeed, sometimes too far away.
Ending with a good dose of Sploosh!, from 1991’s Strangeitude, it really is the perfect show to blow away the cobwebs and add a positive glow to combat the circulating doom and gloom of the real world outside. The audience exuded warmth and there was a respectful bonhomie in the air. Ed and the Ozrics should be playing somewhere every night, sending waves of goodness across this fractured land.
Silas & Saski:
Harmony of the Spheres
Power of Three
All is One
Ozric Tentacles Electronic:
Sliding + Gliding
It’s a Hup Ho World
The Domes of G’Bal
Dance of the Loomi
Dub Plate Jam
Ed Wynne – Guitar, Synths
Silas Neptune – Synths, Guitar
Saskia Maxwell – Vocals, Flute, Acoustic Guitar, Synths