June 06, 2006
This is my first time experiencing the erotic world of Matthew Herbert's music...and I have to admit something... like it. I like it a lot. What Herbert's done with his latest record, Scale, definitely has my curiosity piqued. His music is vaguely a lot of things; it's vaguely electronica, it's vaguely jazz, it's vaguely house, it's vaguely experimental, and it's vaguely funk. What it is most certainly, though, is a pop record. And though the press kit purports it to be built on the theme of "the end of the oil era and the violence done in pursuit of this finite fossil fuel," you would be forgiven for totally missing that point. But I guess the lyrics are vaguely political, even though it's really hard to notice. Main vocalist Dani Siciliano could sing American Psycho, and you'd come away from the experience simply thinking about how sexy she sounds. Placed against the dance grooves of "Birds of a Feather" and "Moving Like a Train," she's a sexy disco diva; placed against the lush "Those Feelings," she's a sultry chanteuse. Then there's "We're In Love," which starts off sounding like a song from a vintage Disney movie, but it then turns into a soft, gorgeous orchestral pop number that's not unlike Marvin Gaye's early 1970s output. Very few records this year have sounded this beautiful and this grooving.
And, oh, those grooves! Herbert's grooves are exotic, because, well, the man has a brilliant ear for odd musical sources. For Scales, he utilized several hundred different objects--all of which are illustrated on the cover art--but, once again, these samples and sources are vaguely obvious. Helium balloons, coffins, clothespins, and a parrot? I couldn't tell you where these samples are used, but it doesn't really surprise me. But the one thing that's quite obvious is Herbert's use of an orchestra. Real, actual woodwinds, strings, and brass instruments grace nearly every track--and, apparently, this is not a new thing for Herbert, which, in my mind, is motivation enough to seek out his previous work.
Though it would be impossible for me to say where Scale compares in terms of his discography, for those who have yet to experience his work, there's no better place to start than here. A wonderful treat of a record, this.
Listen To: "Moving Like a Train"