Luna Kafé e-zine  Luna Kafé record review
coverpic flag US - Maine - Full Moon 235 - 10/27/15

Wot Oz
Woodsist Records

"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.

Wot Oz is Herbcraft's fourth LP, and their second for Woodsist, following 2013's The Astral Body Electric. Their past unveils two LP albums for the Hello Sunshine label, Discovers The Bitter Water Of Agartha (2010) and Ashram To The Stars (2011), plus two cassette albums, Papers (2010, Fuck It Tapes) and Flowering (2012, Julia Dream Recordings). Herbcraft are limited, in releases (ltd. editions) as well as musical/melodic availability: they are not making music for the masses. They are well placed at Woodsist's with their experimental, mind'n'body expanding (a.k.a. psychedelic) rock, even though they are operating far away from Woods. They are even beyond The Skygreen Leopards and Ganglians. Like Julian Cope has stated, they spin and sprawl into Amon Düül's free-form territory. Their six monstrous songs expands and moves in several directions, on many levels - hence the 'Psychedelia' tag. Three of the songs stretch for 10-12 minutes, and their expeditions in sound are multi-coloured and mystical, even mythical. Not to forget they are stretching your patience. On board the Herbcraft vessel are Matt Lajoie, Joe Lindsey, and Aaron Neveu, and they're on a mission from (or towards) Oz.

"...We're Gonna Make It" opens quite easy, like a 'relatively normal' instrumental rock song slowly floating by. It steps quickly into the first of the monstrous tracks, "Fit Ür-Head". This one (the sound, the atmosphere) makes me recall the legendary Norwegian band Babij Jar, as the song bottles out its 'staccato-ness' and repetitive monotony (the Velvet Underground meeting Hawkwind flirting with Kraut at a German art commune meeting in ca. 1969). It is quite suggestive in is simpleness. They continue their short-long-short track placement, as the mild and vague "Au's Nation" come on. But the break their pattern with another short song (5 minutes is short in this musical world...), "Push Thru The Veil". "Push..." is a free-floating, revolving track with a swirling rhythm pattern, from where the Madchester scene borrowed from the Kraut and Psychedelic fields. "Push Thru The Veil" opens for, yes, it even contrasts the next 'monster': "No More Doors", which is a slow-going musical mammal, steered by a psych-guitar (wah-wah) and a lazy beat (leaning towards a Pink Floydish experimentalism, from their Ummagumma era). "No More Doors" is a tough and heavy piece of music, oscillating and shifting though some dark and mystic dreamscapes. The closing "Bread Don't Rise" starts out as a rocking piece, before it lands itself on the same path, or near the same field as "Fit Ür-Head" moved on. The song twists and turns with some whirling motion as is glides by and levitates. Almost, except it can't (it and won't) take off (or 'trip off'). It is all a flight simulation, and all of a sudden "Bread Don't Rise" (as well as Wot Oz) ends in silence. Suddenly. Abruptly, leaving you wondering what hit you. Not that the album is exceptionally good, but it is something different in form and quality, and of nature. Which is quite refreshing itself. Wot Oz is a different point of view.

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