Herbert – THE SHAKES
“The Shakes” is Matthew Herbert’s first album under the name HERBERT since 2006’s dark orchestral disco fantasy ‘Scale’ (K7!). The album deals with intensely personal issues such as raising young children against a backdrop of an increasingly unstable world and, amongst other things, utilizes the sound of used bullets and shells from eBay as part of its soundscape. Herbert himself suggests that the record can be seen as a treatise on how “music helps to motivate, provide respite and divert us from the challenges of the everyday” and that it is “electronic music for the soul.”
In many ways, The Shakes is a sequel to Herbert’s much-lauded Bodily Functions album – a record that regularly features in Best Of The ‘90s’ album lists – and is the latest in a series of albums that stretches back nearly twenty years to his minimalist house classic 100lbs. It follows a vinyl-heavy trio of underground releases last year (part 6,7,8) and is Herbert’s attempt to “seduce the listener back to the dance-floor”. Herbert comments: “When I started writing music, I did it because I could, because there was a chance to, because I liked it. As I get older these reasons become less compelling. At a time when inequality is rising to unprecedented extremes and when the system we have created is designed to destroy rather than nurture, music’s propensity to noodle inconclusively can seem unhelpful at best. Who needs diversion when action is required? However, music can’t only and always be a call to arms, it can also tenderize and engulf when comfort is needed. This album then is an attempt to find a middle ground between those two positions.”
The full track listing for The Shakes runs as follows:
Musicians featured on The Shakes include Dave Okumu (The Invisible, Jessie Ware) on guitar, Sam Beste (Hejira, Amy Winehouse) on keyboards, organ, saxophonist Ben Castle (Quincy Jones, Radiohead), trombonist Alistair White (Van Morrison, Blur) and Chris Storr (Beyonce, James Brown) on trumpet.
Vocalists on the album include Rahel Debebe-Dessalegne (Hejira, Nitin Sawhney) – who sings on Middle, Smart, Ones, Know, Silence and Warm – and Ade Omotayo (Kindness, Amy Winehouse) – who sings on Battle, Strong, Stop, Bed, Safety and Peak – and notable highlights include Herbert’s Grandfather’s piano and a piano from Wormwood Scrubs on Smart, the sounds of UK protest marches (on Strong) and the sound of used bullets and shells from eBay on Safety. Most notable of all however is Father Wills, the vast church organ of St Jude’s church in Hampstead that provides the huge depth and scale on much of the album. Who’d have thought that the church organ and techno went so well together?