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The ever-metamorphosing entity that is GONG launches, as ever, into unknown – and unknowing – territory with new tours for 2023 destined to be talked about, discussed, and argued over, up and down the land.
From its beginnings in a French commune in 1967, through the Virgin Records years, mismanagement, court cases, break-ups and re-joining’s, deaths and rebirths – there has always been a continuous thread of beautiful, dangerous and extraordinary music.
The current holders of the flame have come together over the last eight years; sinuous bass player Dave Sturt joined just as the album 2032 was shown to the world; Ian East (Sax, Flute) was the next to blow in through the portal; Fabio Golfetti brought his guitars from Brazil (after working with Daevid Allen for many years); Kavus Torabi (lead vox and guitars) appeared to Daevid in a vision; Cheb Nettles (drums) just sort of turned up.
In 2015, Daevid Allen passed away. His influence and legacy were honoured on the band’s subsequent album, Rejoice! I’m Dead! (2016). In recent years GONG has performed with the Steve Hillage Band (himself a former member of the 1970s GONG line-up) and released the critically acclaimed album The Universe Also Collapses (2019) and a stunning new live album Pulsing Signals (2022) captures the band at a creative peak with tracks drawn from their 2019 tour.
Gong’s musically diverse world includes shades of psychedelia, space rock, jazz, avant-garde, krautrock and surreal soundscapes.
OZRIC TENTACLES -
One of the most influential bands to emerge from the UK's festival scene, Ozric Tentacles formed during the solstice at Stonehenge Free Festival 1983 going on to become psychedelic staples at Glastonbury and other festivals. The creative vision of multi-instrumentalist Ed Wynne, the Ozrics’ uniquely trippy soundscapes connect fans of progressive rock, psychedelia and dance music culture.
The band originally included guitarist Ed Wynne, drummer Nick ‘Tig’ Van Gelder, keyboard player Joie Hinton, bassist Roly Wynne (Ed’s brother), and second guitarist Gavin Griffiths (who left the group in 1984). The Ozrics played in clubs around London, releasing six cassette-only albums beginning with 1984's Erpsongs. (All six were later collected on the Vitamin Enhanced box set, despite a threatened lawsuit from the Kellogg's cereal company for questionable artwork.) In 1987, Merv Pepler replaced Van Gelder, while synthesizer player Steve Everett was added.
Ozric Tentacles’ first major release, the 1990 album Erpland, foreshadowed the crusty movement, the British parallel to America's hippie movement of the '60s. Crusties borrowed the hippies’ organic dress plus the cosmic thinking of new agers, and spent most of their time traveling around England to various festivals and outdoor gatherings. The movement fit in perfectly with bands like Ozric Tentacles and the Levellers, and the Ozric's 1991 album Strangeitude became the band's biggest seller yet, occasioning a U.S. contract with Capitol. After the British-only Afterswish and Live Underslunky, 1993's Jurassic Shift -- featuring flutist John Egan, who would become known for his on-stage trance-dancing during the group's live performances, and new bassist Zia Geelani in addition to original bassist Roly Wynne, who departed the band in 1992 - hit number 11 on the British charts, quite a feat for a self-produced album released on the Ozric's own Dovetail label. The album was released in America by IRS Records, as was 1994's Arborescence. Neither translated well with American audiences - despite the band's first U.S. tour in 1994 - and Hinton and Pepler left the group that year to devote their energies to their dance side project, Eat Static, releasing several albums on Planet Dog Records.
Ozric Tentacles returned to their Dovetail label for 1995's Become the Other, featuring new members Rad and Seaweed, who also appeared on 1997's Curious Corn. Ed Wynne's brother Roly, whose later life was plagued with difficulties, died by suicide in 1999, a tragic development for the Wynne and Ozric families. However, the band forged ahead, closing out the decade with the release of Waterfall Cities that year, and during the summer of 2000, the Ozrics resurfaced with Swirly Termination. The band also released Hidden Step in 2000, followed by the EP Pyramidion in 2002. Live at the Pongmasters Ball arrived in 2002 as well, their first venture to be released on both CD and DVD.
By 2004's Spirals in Hyperspace, Ozric Tentacles were largely guided by sole original member Ed Wynne, who was responsible for guitar, keyboards, and beat programming on the studio effort, which nevertheless included appearances from previous Ozrics contributors Zia, Seaweed, John Egan, and Merv Pepler, plus drummer Schoo (who had replaced Rad after the former's departure following a 2000 U.S. tour), Ed Wynne's wife Brandi Wynne on bass, and even space rock/electronica guitar legend Steve Hillage. Released in 2006, The Floor's Too Far Away continued the trend of Ed Wynne's domination of the band.
A live appearance from June 2007 was documented on 2008's Sunrise Festival disc, and 2009 saw the release of a new studio album, The Yumyum Tree. Inspired by Lewis Carroll, the latter album featured, in addition to Ed Wynne in the leadership role, Brandi Wynne on keyboards along with bassist Vinny Shillito and drummer Roy Brosh. Yet another permutation of the latter-day Ozrics was a true Wynne family affair, with Ed joined by his son - and the late Roly's nephew - Silas on synths, with wife Brandi back on bass (replacing Shillito), and Ollie Seagle on drums. Following the release of 2011's Paper Monkeys, the Wynnes’ Colorado home and studio were destroyed by wildfires while the band was away on tour. The fires resulted in the loss of various archival material, instruments, equipment, and other valuables. Rebuilding and returning with a revitalized approach, Ozrics delivered the double album Technicians of the Sacred, in 2016, a release which many fans saw as a creative return to form.
The band went on a temporary hiatus in the three years that followed, with Ed Wynne focusing on Nodens Ictus, an electronic side project in collaboration with Hinton. Wynne returned to working on Ozrics material in 2019, emerging with their 16th studio album, Space for the Earth, in 2020.
Through 2021 and the early part of 2022, Ed and Silas Wynne toured as Ozric Tentacles Electronic before overseeing the reformation of a full live band to embark on a joint headline UK tour with fellow space rock band GONG in the autumn of 2022. So successful was that tour the ‘joint’ tour has been extended into autumn 2023 and spring 2024.