Scale’, Herbert’s utterly beautiful new album, contains echoes of all his musical identities: jazz, house, techno and avant-garde sample collages, not to forget a good deal of pop appeal. Dani Siciliano, the velvet-voiced chanteuse and Herbert’s most frequent vocal collaborator, again features prominently on this album, adding this certain “je ne sais quoi” to the tracks.
With his new album ‘Scale’, restless musical innovator Matthew Herbert has produced his most accessible and mellifluous song collection to date. In just a decade as a recording artist, Herbert has become Britain’s most inventive and prolific electronic composer, recording under his own name as well as Doctor Rockit, Wishmountain, Radio Boy, Transformer and others. Globally respected beyond narrow scenes or genes, he has also produced and remixed artists as diverse as Björk, REM, John Cale, Roisin Murphy, Yoko Ono and Serge Gainsbourg.
‘Scale’ is a culmination of these achievements to date, containing echoes of all Herbert’s musical identities. In a career spanning jazz, house, techno and avant-garde sample collages, his most frequent vocal collaborator has been his partner Dani Siciliano. The velvet-voiced chanteuse again features prominently on ‘Scale’ alongside the singers Neil Thomas and Dave Okumu, who fronts the band Jade Fox and has previously collaborated with SA-RA Creative Partners, 4 Hero, IG Culture, Courtney Pine and many more. The album also features a chamber orchestra, a woodwind section, French horns and many of the big band players heard on Herbert’s 2003 album, ‘Goodbye Swingtime’.
In making ‘Scale’, Herbert also relaxed the Dogma-like restrictions of his self-imposed Personal Contract for the Composition of Music. Devised in 2000, the PCCOM prohibits the use of pre-set keyboard sounds, drum machines, or secondary musical sources. Mistakes and accidents also become key to the compositional process.
Ah, but ‘Scale’ is much more than enjoyable.
It is a sumptuous banquet of soulful pop made with integrity, intelligence and invention. Proof that, even in troubled times, the best music can be both playful and political, serious and sublime.
It is all just a question of scale.