Either Matthew Herbert doesn’t particularly like his name, or he just enjoys dressing up. Since 1995, this British producer/remixer has released his music under many masks, Wish Mountain, Doctor Rockit, and Radio Boy, all of which sound much cooler than the spotty ‘ol Herbert any day, but it¹s the music that matters innit? And for Herbert, music and life have no distinction.
The son of a sound engineer for the BBC, at the ripe old age of four Herbert was getting to know his way around the piano and violin (because the hands of a four year-old are just perfect for piano now aren’t they), and by the age of 16 he was touring Sweden with his first band, “a 25-piece Glen Miller style 1940s big band”. Kids huh, why can’t they just get a life? After studying drama at Exeter, his penchant for music and technology was sped along by his appreciation for Aphex Twin and the burgeoning electronica scene, and his career as a producer, and in particular a remixer, began.
His latest release, the aptly and self referentially titled Second Hand Sounds, is a collection of his musical manipulation. This is not your dance floor crowding, stomach churning, mind melting dance compilation, destined to have the words NRG, pumpin’, or Ibiza associated with it. Herbert does to dance, what middle of the road does to rock. Sitting somewhere between the dance floor and the foyer, Second Hand Sounds is a collection a bouncy dub (if that’s at all possible), pulling apart tracks by Moloko, Motorbass, Mono, Serge Gainsbourg and others, and putting them all back together in Herbert’s unique and distinct way.
Sonically, Herbert applies a notably electric brush to the tracks. Clicks and buzzes of percussion, whirrs of keys and drones of bass, machine like but not mindless and robotic. Sort of like the sound of your gadgets and gizmos getting down when you’ve gone out for a jog. Second Hand Sounds is a fantastic release. Rich in style, abundant in length, delightful in production. Sounds shift from speaker to ear delicately, almost with poise. Perhaps not the best album to test out your dancin’ shoes, but would definitely go down a treat for some more horizontal boogying. Right, now I’ve got the soundtrack, all I need is the girlfriend…