ts rare these days that we know of true virtuosos within music. It is even more rare when they chose to turn their back on their classical roots, ostensibly, and pursue a career in making dance music. Its precisely this, though, that Matthew Herbert has done- and perhaps the dance music scene is all the better for it.
Herbert began his childhood playing piano and violin. By 16, he was traveling Europe and playing with orchestras. His initial electronic introductions, however, came later, when his father got a job at the BBC and he was introduced to a professor interested in the works of electro-acoustic musicians such as Pierre Schaeffer. Couple this with an increasing interest in performance and music and, by 1996, Herbert had three monikers to record under for various labels- and three distinct sets of sounds that he was creating through each one.
But before a quick rundown on each distinct set of sounds, a profile of Herbert necessitates an explanation of why, exactly, his sounds do sound so distinct. On his website, http://www.magicandaccident.com, Herbert published, in 2000, a treatise entitled Personal Contract for the Composition of Music. The contract is a twelve point plan that will allow for each and every Herbert related music venture to sound wholly original from the last, by placing constraints on each music work that he produces, such as The sampling of other people's music is strictly forbidden and ...no replication of traditional acoustic instruments is allowed where the financial and physical possibility of using the real ones exists. It is this personal credo that Herbert has been working from since the year 2000- and, in many ways, formulating since his first tracks as a musician under all of his different recording names. And so, on with the descriptions of these projects:
Doctor Rockit takes past and present techno along with, you guessed it, electro- combining these propulsive beats with absurd vocal and found sound samples. Herbert has released a good deal of material under the Doctor Rockit name, including the forthcoming cafe de flore/veselka's diner CD set to be unveiled in 2003.
Under the Herbert name, Herbert has focused on experimental house music. His most recent works under the name has featured the vocal talents of Dani Siciliano and have been labeled by AllMusic.com critic, John Bush, as simply the perfect marriage of art and intelligence. Forthcoming work under this alias are remixes of the Soft Pink Truth and Yoko Ono, so stay tuned.
And finally, there is the Radioboy/Wishmountain project. More academic than the aforementioned other two monikers, Herbert explicitly states his source material in sampling under this guise in tracks such as Golf and Bottle. These two pseudonyms seem to lack the inherent mix of art and intelligence that Bush mentioned in his review of Bodily Functions, instead sacrificing the intelligence, at points, for art.
Current members: Matthew Herbert
Style: Electronic Music of all shapes and sizes
Labels Appeared On: Clear, Soundslike, K7
For a complete discography, visit:
Essential: Bodily Functions, Herbert (2001)