Limited to 500
Across four LPs, Herbcraft’s trajectory has taken the form of an open-ended and perpetual trip, covering ground from Agartha’s pining bedroom odes to Ashram’s psychedelic living room services, to the full-band barn hoots of 2013’s The Astral Body Electric. On its fourth album, Wot Oz, the band undergoes another bold reinvention, shifting its locale to the Traummaschine A/B warehouse, where Matt Lajoie met with drummer Aaron Neveu and bassist/organist Joe Lindsey for the trio’s first-ever rehearsal in July 2013. Though intended simply as a rehearsal for a live gig, surveillance tape began rolling almost immediately, as the group’s chemistry imbued both abstract sound experiments and primitive rock- and blues-based numbers with the same heady waft of freewheeling possibility.
Your needle touches down on a slice of this initial meeting: “Fit Ur-Head” lands at the feral, pummeling nexus of proto- and post-punk; a live-to-tape two-chord gob of lung-tar spat inches from a flea market snakeskin, while voices howl and wah guitar razes every inch of green. From this auspicious birth the album moves thru the afterhours narco-haze of “Au’s Nation” to the Zamrock-inspired groove of “Push Thru The Veil”, with Neveu rolling off an endless stream of future-classic break-beats throughout. On the flip, “No More Doors” finds a sunbaked cassette of tabla-and-bass loops melting as the band abandons Earth for hallucinogenic oblivion, and the album’s closing 12-bar blues deconsecration “Bread Don’t Rise” spins a circular framework into a sweaty Fillmore dancefloor-filler strictly for the heads. Fittingly, this trip ends only when the tape falls off the reel.
Wot Oz was recorded and mixed on 1/4″ tape and 4-track cassette, mastered by Timothy Stollenwerk, and is presented in mono for optimal blare. Turn it up.
“A major acceleration in terms of the Herb sound, this one sees them phasing in and out of reality over a killer drum break that makes the whole thing travel and shake ass like never before. Mile wide F/X dazzled vocals haunt the background like your favourite psychedelic Xian choir while the primitive dub production is just too much, melting elegiac wah-wah solos into so much cotton candy.” – David Keenan
“Herbcraft writhes and flows through umpteen Amon Düülian soundscapes with all the raging Mithraic fire of Flower Travellin’ Band, a permafrost of sonic ice suffused by its own incandescent glow. That good? That compelling, kiddies. That the U.S. Underground continues to throw up such out-of-nowhere essentials is more than heartening; it’s a lifeline and that’s a fact.” – Julian Cope