Reviewed by: Geno Thackara
It’s things like this that almost make me wish I’d been born early enough to be a classic ’70s stoner. If you’re at all familiar with music of the mind-altering variety, you know the general terms such as psychedelia, space or desert rock. If you dig into the smaller niches under that umbrella, you may eventually get to the obscure sub-category officially known as “trippy stuff for record-shop owners who want to make the place feel like a drug den.” Your mileage may vary, but I’ve found this a pretty frequent feature among most of the used-music shops I’ve browsed in Philly and anywhere else. Maybe there’s a rule of some kind.
If I didn’t know that Wot Oz was a new record just coming out this week, I’d swear it was a classic staple in that same acid-meets-Krautrock vein that’s launched so many of those bizarre head trips over the years. It means hypnotic trance grooves, extensive LSD-style jams and gonzo abstract noise, drenched in electric fuzz and with the echo and reverb turned up to 11. Herbcraft is an adventurous trio that’s obviously taken a lot of cues from space-rock bands like Hawkwind, experimental outfits like Can (the occasional scat-wailing sounds like Damo Suzuki singing through a distortion box from hell) and the dangerous wattage levels of punk acts such as Boris. The combination could leave bleeding eardrums all the way down the block if it doesn’t melt your speakers first.
This is a lo-fi affair with every knob-twiddling squeal and abrasive guitar skronk going straight onto four-track tape as it happened. It’s even mastered in mono – exactly what this big wall of sound deserves, from the somewhat straightforward improv pieces to the couple patience-taxing stretches of blaring white noise. Warn away any faint-hearted housemates (or be polite enough to give them some headache pills beforehand) and be ready for the cat to start clawing the walls. This is as loud and raw as music can get.