Posts Tagged ‘Ash & Herb’

Ash & Herb

Flower Room, the resident home of Matt LaJoie and Ash Brooks’ musical musings, often boasts a treasure trove of small press releases that are of the blink and you’ll miss ‘em variety. In between larger statements the pair populate the label’s Bandcamp with live documents and offshoots in every direction under the Ash & Herb, Starbirthed, ML Wah monikers, among many. One of the latest gems arrives via live recordings from Ash & Herb’s Spring 2018 tour, and makes up the third installment of their live “In Now Time” series. While it’s not a full-on psych-folk boogie breaker in the mold of their outstanding “Salt Lick” single from February, it does capture the band’s narcotic float quite nicely. The set was recorded in a living room in Columbus, OH, but the sounds feel like they could have filled up a void twice that size.

Apparently, their set for the tour was using a cassette backing track that they tossed for the night and untethering from the percussive yoke lets the band wander all over the inky night, swirling like smoke signals into the wanting sky above. Ash’s vocals zone out into wounded, wooded rites of passage, giving the set a heavier, darker turn for a spell, before they bloom into a two-part psilocybin sojourn. “Fruiting Bodies” sparkles to the point of shimmer and closer “Cap & Stem” settles the whole set into a steamed calm as it pits a bit of twang against the dominant drones. Ash & Herb have a huge catalog to contend with but its been great to keep track of the current modes with this live series and it’s highly recommended digging through vols. 1 and 2 as well. Pair this one up with a recent Starbirthed tape and the night’s set to transcend expectations.



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ML WAH

There are many sides of Matt Lajoie (solo, Cursillistas, Herbcraft, Ash & Herb, Starbirthed) but the ML WAH name is dedicated to a more devotional direction. Following 2011’s Ashram To The Stars, Herbcraft took a heavier tack, pulling more from Krautrock and the space spectrum, but Deep Roots is here as a spiritual successor to that album’s higher consciousness. There’s a deep body vibration to the album, shaking the chakras until the soul lights up like an ember. LaJoie’s hymns are covered in ash, ambling through the streets in search of solace, euphoria, or enlightenment. A clatter of percussion wakes the wound and LaJoie singes it shut with the slow melt of his guitar on “Santal.” Things take another turn towards disjointed stomp on “Wallah Sound,” where keys plunk like a kalimba over the heavy hop of percussion worked up to confront the spirit’s misgivings.

Though certainly rooted in psychedelics, with shades of Ash Ra Temple or International Harvester this record also owes a debt to the permeating pulse of Don Cherry. While the Wah doesn’t rock the horns like Cherry might, there’s certainly more than a touch of the mysticism that informed Organic Music Society clattering through its bones. This is one for the late-night meditations, with the cool breeze blowing against the baked-in glow of warm firelight. If you’ve found purchase in LaJoie’s past works (no matter the output) then you’ll already be on board for this, but for the free jazz congregation and the psych temple travelers, here lies an album that brings together the fold for a blissful bout of devotional thrum. Recommended for some deep listening.



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ML Wah – “Santal”

New deep vibes today from Matt LaJoie, who downplays his guitar in favor of creeping drones, midnight creaks of percussion, keys, and brass as “Santal” unfolds slow and sacred, rising from the deep like smoke through a fissure. There’s a touch of Turkish folk in the mix, but at its core the track exudes bayou vibes – a humid, hungry creep of eyes, rough scarred scales, and scattered bones. When LoJoie’s guitar finally surfaces through the haze, it slithers through the slick with a possessed gate, ambling and roiling against the thick air. Contrary to some of his tighter works with Ash & Herb, Herbcraft, and under his own name, this record comes closer to the peyote pulse of cosmic entanglement – dislodging itself from the yolk of traditional song format. LaJoie and label Flower Room invoke Don Cherry comparisons, and that’s not a bad place to start or finish, to be quite honest. Very interested to see how the rest of this one shapes up. The record is out May 24th and comes in some choice deluxe options.


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Ash & Herb – “Salt Lick”

Notch another win for the constant creep of Cosmic Americana and East Coast freak psych, Ash & Herb are back and things are woollier than ever. After a solid offering from MV&EE house label Child of Microtones, the duo have a new 7″ on the way from Maine label Flower Room and the A-side’ll knock you sideways. The band is gearing up for album #2, titled Dome Cookbook (channeling Buckminster Fuller’s geodesic vibes, eh) but before they go that route the band is kicking out a double shot single. “Salt Lick” ropes in a previously unfelt funk to the mix, pinning a chooglin’ beat to spacey keys and reverbed marinated vocals for a track that’s keeping pace with their circle of contempos in Wet Tuna, MV & EE, and Mountain Movers, while also feeling like a force all their own. The band’s debut owed a lot to the shrouded school of forest folk, but its clear with the release of “Salt Lick” that they have no intention of blending into the bushes by the time that second LP rolls around. This is a stacked high bonfire party track that’s begging to be blasted to the top canopy of any camp out. Too bad its January, but keep this on file for the coming spring thaw.



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