(Photo by minirobot (cc))
Electronica artists don't tend to have a sense of humour. So when I saw that Matthew Herbert, a seriously hip name to drop yet whose music had never actually passed my ear drums, had contributed to Jamie Lidell's remix album, I was curious to check it out. The remix of A Little Bit More is suitably remix-y, paring the original back to a tribal beat and occasional splashes of the outlandish. But I listened to the bonus track, Herbert's Hoedown Bump Instrumental version of Mutliply and we're entering a different world. The clue is in the title, it's barndancetronica in all it's finery, and while it's not the most cerebral, chin-strokingly intellectual version on the cd, it is a whole barrel of fun. And given the immensely funky, party atmosphere of Multiply, it's not remotely out of place.
I mention this upon finally hearing Herbert's Scale, by all accounts his most successful album yet. Here's a fellow who's been working since the early 90's, flitting between abstract noise-creation and big band-style avant-jazz. On the way, he's remixed artists as diverse as REM, Yoko Ono, John Cale, Moloko and Perry Farrell, and collaborated with many more (Lidell himself, Arto Lindsay and his long-time muse and now wife, Dani Siciliano). A few weeks ago I posted an intriguing cover of Jeff Buckley's Everybody Here Wants you by Herbert and Siciliano, and that might have given you a small taste, but you really need to experience an entire album to take in the diversity of sound - on Scale it runs the full gamut, from glitchy electronica, to hard r'n'b, to old school funk and disco, to sultry swing. It's fairly dizzying at times, but has provided today's soundtrack admirably - consistently interesting, wilfully different yet within frameworks still acceptable to the less-refined palate. Like Multiply before it, this is a record which, if it doesn't cross over into wide audience, has suffered a serious injustice.
Fact of the day: the album's liner notes claims use of 635 instruments on this album, from the standard and expected (violins, pianos) to the less so (breakfast cereal, coffins).
Recommended: Herbert - Scale (metacritic 80)
If you like this you might like: Jamie Lidell - Multiply