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Thursday, July 27, 2006

PONGMASTERS BALL 7: Ozric Tentacles and friends in a feast of spaced out crusty psychedelic trance-core

Last night (and this morning) was the ‘Pongmasters Ball’, a gathering of Ozric Tentacles, plus related ‘friends and families’.

The last time I went to a Pongmasters Ball was a good ten years ago, it was in Brixton Academy, which holds 5,000, was on a Saturday night and sold out in advance. This year’s ball (number 7, which implies they have ceased to be annual) was held in the Mean Fiddler, which has a capacity of about 1,000, was held on a Wednesday and did not sell out.

This fall from grace has its advantages though, the venue is a nice size and you could move about easily and no queues at the bar, although there was still a big enough crowd to create a bit of an atmosphere.

There is a problem with the venue though, it is owned by Vince Power, the money grabber who owns several other venues throughout London, runs the Reading and Leeds festivals and looks after security at fortress Glastonbury. It is annoying that I have to line his pockets to see one some of my favourite bands, but £3.20 for a can of Strongbow really was taking the piss… yes, that’s a can, not a full pint, the type that go for 50p in your friendly neighbourhood off licence (this may account for the lack of queues at the bar).

Was not going to let that spoil me fun though….

NODENS ICTICUS, turning on, tuning in and dropping out....

NODENS ICTICUS: This was side project of Ozric Tentacles that played chill out types stuff late 80s early 90s. Featuring guitarist Ed Wynne and keyboards of Joie Hinton, it was basically Ozrics without a Rhythm section. They were later joined by Merv Peplar. They ceased to be in the early 90s when Ed decided to concentrate on the Ozrics, while Hinton and Peplar formed Eat Static.

They have been getting together again of late and have finally released a CD, but the unit still remains a side project.

Tonights show started the night chilling and slowly warmed up, building the tempo to give a mild dose of what was to come later in the night.

System 7 bombarding the brain with soundwaves

SYSTEM 7: Steve Hillage has been working on this project since 1990 together with Miquette Giraudi and at various times guest artists including the likes of Alex Paterson.

Hillage is no stranger to psychedelic ambient vibes … he has his roots in the 60s psychedelic outfit Gong. Some of his early ambient stuff is well cool, but he also kicks it up with full on banging techno and has recorded a few decent albums.

Now the problem with live techno acts is that there is not a lot to see on stage. Some bands bring on dancers, some use live instruments and there are a few that really can carry off a live performance. System 7 do not fit in this category, their techno is beefy, but not ‘intelligent’ enough to keep you entertained for long periods, it turns into.. well, repetitive beats I suppose. Alright in small doses but not enough variety to keep you transfixed.. unless you are on drugs!

OK... out of focus, but pretty much how i was seeing things while the Ozrics were on stage.

OZRIC TENTACLES: The main attraction. Unfashionable, hippies, prog rock.. call em what you like, I f@ckin' love em. With their roots in the travellers/ festival scene of the early 80s they play psychedelic spaced out trancy rock.

Completely instrumental they take you on a blissed out ride through space, into another dimension and back. When combined with the ‘Fruit Salad Lightshow’ they can be like tripping when completely straight…. And when you really are trippin’…..!

Tonight’s light show was not quite as good as the full fruit thing, but standing close to the stage with the music washing over you, around you, underneath you, picking you up and sucking your brain out with a straw, the lights made you feel like you were inside a Mandelbrot Set.

NB: The official Ozrics Website appears to be off line, but check out this pretty hot fan site

Eat Static, not dropping out, infiltrating and taking over
EAT STATIC: Ozrics build you up to such a pitch when they finish you just think things cannot get any crazier, then on come Eat Static. These guys really do know how to fry the dance floor with full on banging psy-trance.

Far cleverer that System 7, the lack of much on stage really becomes an irrelevance, but turning the lights up to spaced out psychedelic level 11 does help.

Over the years they have pioneered several different styles, dabbling with big beat, drum ‘n' bass, industrial techno and even salsa techno, but tonight it was ear to ear trancedelic vibrations as we travelled though time and space using area 51 as our portal. It was all so wigged out that the addition of drugs may well have caused your brain to fry.


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