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Herbcraft

The Astral Body Electric

(Woodsist; US: 5 Mar 2013; UK: 5 Mar 2013)

It’s pretty clear from the outset of Herbcraft’s third album, The Astral Body Electric, that this is no longer the bedroom project of frontman Matt Lajoie. In fact, many of these sounds don’t feel like they’d fit in a room of any size. The skronk and gliding synths of the 12-minute-plus “A Knock at the Door in Your Mind” feel endless. So do the swelling flutes of “The Body Electric” or the spacious, gauzy layers and distant vocals on closer “Full Circle (Eternally)”.


The Astral Body Electric is an album that seeks deep feeling through even deeper layers of emotion. But despite its sheer energizing size, that emotional connect is missing for anyone outside of the players. Perhaps that lack comes in mistaking narcotic haze for mysticism. Herbcraft, as it has expanded in line-up and sound, hasn’t quite expanded in connecting to a world outside itself. So while these sounds may feel, initially, like they’re reaching out, they’re really just tangling with one another, happy to luxuriate in their own confusion rather than link clearly with the listener. It will put you in a headspace, that’s for sure, but it’s the kind of headspace you’ll only remember vaguely, if fondly enough, afterwards.

Rating:

Matthew Fiander is a music critic for PopMatters and Prefix Magazine. He also writes fiction and his work has appeared in The Yalobusha Review. He received his M.F.A. in Creative Writing from UNC-Greensboro and currently teaches writing and literature at High Point University in High Point, NC. You can follow him on Twitter at @mattfiander.


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