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Matthew Herbert - Scale

Matthew Herbert, Scale

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3.5 out of 5

MATTHEW Herbert is frequently referred to as a restless innovator – a sampling wizard, classically trained pianist and superstar collaborator.

Certainly, no matter what you may think of him, he remains one of electronic music’s more versatile and prolific figureheads.

Herbert’s latest album, Scale is a radio-friendly collection of jazz, disco and sensual house rhythms that, on the surface, appear like a fairly easy project to have put together.

Yet from the themes of the songs themselves to the manner in which they have been compiled, Scale is a richly textured affair that really does provide a breathtaking showcase of Herbert’s eclectic nature – no matter what you may think of the overall result.

In terms of theme, the album tackles mortality, global suffering and the end of the oil age. It does so by building the music and vocals using all manner of objects, from RAF Tornado bombers to coffins, petrol pumps and even somebody being sick outside a banquet for a notorious London arms fair.

Needless to say, it is the sort of listen that rewards attention in that it continues to yield more to those who pay close attention. A total of 723 objects have been sampled in total and it would take a Herculean effort to name – let alone hear – them all.

Tracks to look out for include the Motown-tinged funk of Moving Like A Train which also recalls Off The Wall era Michael Jackson mixed with Prince.

Once it gets going, We’re In Love captures the essence of classic Hollywood romance, being built around some swirling strings and a sultry set of vocals that are perfectly accompanied by some lush piano chords. It’s an ambitious track that continually evolves.

The stripped down beats and rapping style of Movie Star is another strong offering, loaded with emotive lyrics and attitude, while Those Feelings also drops a silky smooth set of vocals to accompany the sampled beats and electronic flourishes.

Given the experimental nature of most of the tracks, it’s hardly surprising to find that not everything works and some take longer to appreciate than others.

But there’s no denying it’s a unique offering that continues to stretch Herbert creatively – which is arguably how he works best. It’s certainly worth checking out if you like your music to be challenging, laidback and innovative.

Track listing:

  1. Something Isn’t Right
  2. Movers And The Shakers
  3. Moving Like A Train
  4. Harmonise
  5. We’re In Love
  6. Birds Of A Feather
  7. Those Feelings
  8. Down
  9. Movie Star
  10. Just Once
  11. Wrong