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On their third album, Megafaun in essence refine themselves further -- which given that they were never entirely either a neo-folk act or a crew of random experimenters might sound a bit hard to pull off. But the six-song Heretofore breaks down fairly neatly into a clutch of songs where the more unsettled side of the band's work exists as shading to fairly formal compositions and one big song where that overtly exploratory side is front and center. Said song, with the slightly unwieldy title of "Comprovisation for Connor Pass," starts off as a fairly pretty piece until about five minutes in; if what follows isn't John Coltrane's Ascension by any stretch of the imagination, it does suggest the glazed spaciousness that much jazz from that era offered as its impact continued to play out, a new riff on what acts like Talk Talk and Bark Psychosis did with similar inspirations in the '90s. Horns, then strings, and finally a slow unfolding percussive collage help carry the song to its end. It's the standout on the album as everything else proceeds much more directly, if often very sweetly at that, as with the easygoing riff and understated harmonies of the title track, where the sonic burbles in the break suggest slightly more chaotic possibilities. Other numbers of note include the quicker "Carolina Days" and "Eagle" -- which manages the neat trick of sounding like a late-'60s Beach Boys track without actually aiming at the famous vocal sound of the band, while adding some sax skronk and feedback toward the end that the older group probably might not have gone for itself.

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