[4 June 2001]
The electronic medium is one that is tremendously appealing to the air-guitar enthusiasts of the world simply because it allows one who is not classically trained to express himself musically with virtual ease. As a result of this “music by numbers” possibility, the market has rapidly become saturated with cold, dark, melodically barren sonances that are all too generously categorized as music. While one would be faced with a rather laborious task in uncovering scorching licks worthy of air-guitar greatness within Matthew Herbert’s latest offering, Bodily Functions is a stunning example of uncontaminated orchestration created within the synthetic realm.
Whether recorded under his birth name or one of his seven alter egos, which include Radioboy, Wishmountain and Doctor Rockit, Herbert has been responsible for producing some of the world’s most impressive avant-garde electronic dance music since the commencement of the ‘90s.
Herbert is adored by all due to the fact that a magical organic quality is forever omnipresent throughout his catalogue. It does not take a genius to understand that the source of this magic stems from Herbert’s classical training in the discipline of jazz since the tender age of four, a practice that he still continues at the experienced age of 29. As a master violinist and pianist, Herbert possesses a solid understanding of classical song writing. Bodily Functions is in essence Matthew Herbert’s Mona Lisa. Never before has an artist working within the electronic medium delivered an album of such depth and maturity.
As expected, the signature shuffling house beats are indeed present, however, this time the groove takes a back seat to the album’s electro-acoustic jazz mentality. The masterful utilization of classical instruments including piano, strings and acoustic bass creates an irresistible canvas for long time collaborating vocalist Dani Siciliano to paint her sultry offerings upon. The result is a timeless melancholic culmination of modernized jazz standards vividly recalling the sentiments found within the legendary Blue Note recordings circa 1960-70. This is not a house record influenced by jazz, but rather, a jazz record influenced by house.
There is one imperative rule that this eclectic producer subscribes to and that is “the use of sounds that exist already is not allowed”. Herbert has become infamous for creating mind-altering live sets produced entirely using the contents of his own kitchen! It is not uncommon for this wizard to manufacture some of the electronic community’s dirtiest house groovers with nothing more than a dime store sampler and a bag of crisps.
Herbert’s mandatory inclusion of virgin processed ambient noises find their way into his latest production in the form of bodily function sounds graciously loaned by his seemingly bizarre circle of friends. Teeth rattling, bone tapping, even laser eye surgery audio snippets are partially responsible for the beauty found within this entrancing future classic. His unconventionality may leave some to question his psychological well being, but in reality, when the end result is this good, who cares?.
Believe the hype!
Published at: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/herbert-bodily/