Ozric Tentacles is a brand of psychedelic prog-rock flavour breakfast cereal that every creative person should try at least once. Why? Because the mesh of riffs and melodies that is their sound, will make its way through the ear canals and slowly seep out of your eyeballs in an exquisite kaleidoscopic colour fantasy.
If you have Ozrics in the background and pen, pencil, chalk, Photoshop, typewriter, pasta collage - anything to create with - in front of you and nothing happens, then there's something wrong.
Let me re-phrase: if nothing good happens.
Ozrics are mind-food. Medicine against blank-page-panic.
Prog rock is such an irritating label. Perhaps even more so than "pop" or "rock". Deep Purple and Pink Floyd have their place, but it feels wrong that they should be cheek-to-cheek with the Ozrics. Nothing is in the same category.
I perceive the world around me through mild synaesthesia (although so do most people without realising it; I guess what I'm saying is: my synaesthesia is stronger than average). Ozric Tentacles hit the Syn nerve on the spot. (I just made up the Syn nerve, but go with it).
In fact, I'd venture as far as to say that the perfect treatment option for someone who's a little stiff and rigid in the creative department would be to gently introduce a course of Ozrics, starting, perhaps, with Jurassic Shift, one of my favourites. The dormant Syn nerve would twang into action equally well with Strangeitude or Pungent Effulgent.
The group has released 20-odd recordings since its formation in the mid eighties, yet is classified as "underground". This is no Tony Tiger; I'll admit that Ozrics won't appeal to the masses. It's not an easy sell. It won't fit into a bite-size chart show. It's not revolutionary. It doesn't deviate too much from its central theme. You can listen to some samples on the official website and decide for yourself. I recommend longer than a few seconds though - so if you are of the Napster persuasion, go, download!
All of the above form part of the appeal for me. I enjoy sharing this under the table secret with the select few. So, I'll admit - every time I find myself enjoying a chart-topping act, I wince just a little. This is, of course, terribly contrived and silly of me because if I'd truly achieved the state of being free of mass influence, I would go with whatever takes my fancy, regardless of whether a few squillion others fancied the same thing too.
And this brings me nicely to Röyksöpp. An indie band from Norway. Nay, a chart-climbing indie band from Norway. They're good. Really good. Maybe there's some kind of secret Nordic code hidden in the tracks; a native memory of a sound just so, that happens to appeal to the Finn in me - who knows, I'm just babbling now - but some of the tracks are "little hairs at the back of your neck standing up" good. I'll have to throw the contrived snobbery out with the rubbish; this stuff is becoming popular, but I like it. Maybe the snobbery is more to do with my regard for the faceless general public: can it really tell mass-produced talentless hacks from true gems? Just a rhetorical question.
Röyksöpp could be described as dance, as pop, as indie - again, no befitting category there. This, I find, is always a good sign.
Categorisation fails completely when talking about Lamb. Is it drum and bass? Is it pop? Is it dance? Who knows. It's like a warm pebble you happened to pick up from an otherwise bleak beach; it's nestled in your pocket and keeping you warm, all in secret. You smile to yourself because B-line is stuck in your head and most people associate mint sauce with Lamb, not this.
Fear of fours is the raw - and in my opinion most appealing - example of the Lamb-effect, but the 1996 debut was enough to get me hooked. If you like Portishead, Bjork, or, indeed, Röyksöpp, I recommend you give Lamb a whirl.
This is part of The Sunday Review series.