Every so often, an album comes along to remind me why I got into reviewing music in the first place. The new album from Herbcraft is largely experimental in nature and quite far removed from what I would usually listen to, but what attracted me to it in the first place was its intriguing artwork. I thought, 'hey, that looks cool', pitched in for it, and got the review. This was definitely a good decision, and not because The Astral Body Electric is particularly good - make no mistake, it is, but that's not why I've been enjoying it so much. It's an album well worth taking a risk on: intoxicating and full of surprises. It's a heavily psychedelic affair, split into two movements comprised of three tracks each, working well as something to zone out to, as well as something on which to concentrate fully. In either case, the effect is the same. as the listener marvels at how something so formless can simultaneously sound fully-formed.

Band leader Matt Lajoie used to call Herbcraft a solo project, but on this album, Herbcraft have expanded into a full band, and even roped in some help from members of Woods. There are Krautrock influences all over the place, particularly on 'A Knock at the Door in Your Mind', which is an improvisation on a theme that lasts for 12 minutes, but somehow never seems to drag, held together by simple percussion and a repetitive bassline, the latter of which is present until it eventually gets drowned out by drums and a piercing organ note. Naturally, this comes after the Eastern-influenced opener 'Mother's Gate (Shambhala)' gets things off to a surprisingly intense start. Lajoie's vocals are often low in the mix, indecipherable at times, such as on the brief 'Impermanence', overshadowed by what surrounds them, but everything that's been recorded (direct to tape, no less) has a purpose, and this helps the album as a whole.

Nothing is thrown in as an afterthought, and as side B of the album comes to life, with the band bringing a delightfully funky atmosphere to 'No Land', even managing to work in some flute (seriously) it's hard not to become caught up in it. The album's described as 'music for the body and mind', and it's easy to see why, at once sounding focused (in its own hazy, drugged-up way) and so loose that it could seemingly fall apart at any second. You could either dance to it or get high to it (it probably sounds even better on drugs, anyway), and then there are some moments, like 'The Body Electric', when you can completely zone out to it, with Herbcraft showing us their ambient side for 3 blissful minutes before the sluggish-sounding 'Full Circle (Elemental)' brings the album to a close with its mid-tempo groove and irresistibly dreamy feel. There's no doubt that this album won't be for everyone, but for those of you looking for something a little more 'out there', is definitely worth your while.