Herbcraft – The Astral Body Electric

Herbcraft - The Astral Body Electric

Herbcraft – The Astral Body Electric

Lets be honest, despite the success of Brian Eno’s Ambient albums, Phillip Glass’s cinematic exploits, and the fact that Sigur Ros regularly tour arenas; ambient is by no means a thriving aspect of popular music. So every time I come across a band who are willing to explore and experiment with every corner of every tangent of every motif, I get excited. Herbcraft do just this with their fantastic blend of eastern drones and wah drenched guitar riffs. Can you dig it?

Their 6 track LP The Astral Body Electric is full of progressive wonderment; a truly progressive work that traverses the cosmos. If you’re an avid post-rock listener then this album with certainly be for you as the band create a sparseness comparable to godspeed!youblackemperor, without the formulaic arrangements that so many post-rock acts are currently struggling to avoid. Instead this album swells and floats, using repetition as intuitively as any minimalist composer without resorting to obvious climaxes. Effects are used as musically as the instruments, and shimmering ambiance is present alongside every pitched phrase.

Like any true record, there are clear relationships between songs, and a clear distinction between the two halves. The vocals in particular define this separation, as the A side contains catchy yet ethereal chants, while the B side utilises a more bluesy, poetic aesthetic. These sung sections act as an adhesive to the whole and are free of forcefulness. They welcome the listener to new ideas rather than pushing them over the edge into predetermined connotations. The unison motif of “A Knock at the Door in your Mind”, achieves a catchiness rarely seen in drone based musics, and has been firmly rooted in my head for days now without causing me to cringe.

As the album moves into its second half, pipes example the albums use of contrasting colours; a sure sign of hard work and no holds barred experimentation. Perhaps I should say no posture barred as I fully intend to listen to this album next time I’m on a yoga mat. Many of the core tonalities of wah guitar and organ are familiar, but it is a familiarity which acts as a conduit to the unique playing style. Herbcraft are void of the aimless abstractions that often go with pedalboard practitioners as their effects enhance the momentum of their tracks. Their bold experimentation gladly unites noise with notes.

Although clearly drawing from Asian arrangement styles I feel that describing Herbcraft as “World Music” would be a hasty definition. For all there are harmonic minors and chants aplenty, the desert riffage and percussion draw us away from any strict implication of geography; carrying us on an journey of exploration and ambiguity rather than one of obvious cultural reference. If you are looking for a new sound, then look no further, as this band are clearly more at home on the open trails of exploration rather than the well worn roads of modern music.

Samuel Stephenson About Samuel Stephenson

English Sound Engineer/Producer/Musician currently residing in NY.
Delays and volume swells make me feel like a giant