on May 31, 2006
Matthew Herbert is a classical piano trained musician, but he has made a better name for himself in the field of electronic music. His recent efforts have been composed almost entirely from unusual sources: coffins, people vomiting, kitchen sinks, punching bags and various machinery. After all, the liner notes mention 635 separate items used for this album's creation, while the packaging cleverly gives us pictures of all of them (49 items per page).
If all this unbridled and eccentric sampling would throw you off, it won't once the record begins: it is unfettered and bouncy electronic music, albeit balanced with jagged political lyrics. However, these are sung by the lovely voice of Dani Siciliano (mainly), and make for a terrific listen. If you are only used to the smooth jazzy quietness of "Around the House" from Herbert(as I am), this will be a pleasant change, and a perfect summer record. One of the year's strongest albums.
on June 22, 2006
for a field of music that is based on repetitive structures and 4/4 beats, this album is a bright ray of sunshine...
it is sunny, sexy, pop-perfect danceable music. it is essentially house, though i heard it referred to as "left-field house" and i think that is a perfect description. lots of movie style string swells, a nice dose of big band steez, jazzy and funky dollops of happiness and a great female singer enhance this cd from being house music to, well, left field house....house that comes at you from your peripheral vision, that becomes part of the environment around you....it is very organic, very danceable (i said that already) and very very fun....
i didnt give it a 5 cuz the first half contains most of the power, but i labeled it 5 because of the amount of boring tepid dance music that exists these days, and herbert seems to be ahead of the curve on creativity in such a stagnant dance music scene and deserves to be recognized for such. the whole thing is growing on me like moss. fuzzy, green moss
this is a great album to have drop right at the beginning of summer. so you can be sure to listen to it with the windows open, with the top down, on the grass, smokin grass, in da club (haha! just kiddin, but not really) and you will boogie, boogie, boogie, til you just cant boogie no more...
EDIT: I have to add, because it is not apparent in the review above...The second half of this album is really not house at all. It is very dowtempo, some of the songs contain very nice arrangments, but ultimately lack the dancy punch of the first four tracks, which are great for any late night...
on June 13, 2001
I first fell in love with this collection when I checked it out at the library as "Treasures of the Operetta". Two more CDs followed--"Treasures of the Operetta II and III." I was not prepared for the impact these exquisitely crafted recordings would have on me.
I have long had a love of operetta but found that there were not a large number of recordings to be found in that genre. So much the happier was I for discovering this diverse collection of operetta standards. True serendipity!
Marilyn Hill Smith and Peter Morrison deliver thrilling renditions of the operetta masters. We hear selections from Johann Strauss, Lehar, Kalman, Herbert, Oscar Straus, Millocker, Messager, Stolz and Tauber, to name a few. There are the often sung showpieces and lesser known songs which are blended well and add diversity. One glorious song sets the stage for the next.
With Miss Smith's crystal, velvety soprano and Mr. Morrison's rich, romantic baritone, the production leaves nothing left to be desired--except for more of the same musical charm.
The current offering is a serendipity in itself. It has the three original CDs delivered in one package as a two CD set. I have a modest collection of operetta recordings but I would be hard pressed to name one more satisfying than this generous 36 track package.
on June 14, 2006
I heard a few tracks from the Matthew Herbert Big Band... which I liked... but this CD is amazing. So amazing, I've never bothered to write a review for amazon before, but this album motivated me to do so for the first time.
Combining mainstream, dance-based electronic beats with experimental jazz-fusion and politically conceptual music, this CD is both toe-tapping and thought-provoking... a rich album full of great melodies which sound like no one else I've ever quite heard before.
on June 10, 2006
Some girl long ago told me that Herbert was the equivalent in music of sex. He makes sexy sounds. It's true. This is first real album in a while. It was worth the wait. It mixes jazz, techno, dance, and everything Herbert has done in the past. On this one he has collaborated a lot with Dani Siciliano. The results are very dramatic. This is a cool musical journey. Even Matthew Herbert sings on "Wrong." These songs are like movie soundtracks to a very good film. It is a very cool album.
Herbert's been around for a few decades now. Kind of funny to say that, but it's true. The 90's and 00's saw him experiment and evolve his sound into several different directions. With this comes a kind of problem for fans - they may have a different Herbert album as a reference point. Maybe one of the best suggestions is to look at the label he releases his albums on since he mixes it up - !K7 here, not Accidental. For me, I loved Bodily Functions (!K7), but not many of his albums come close to capturing the essence of that release to me. I had mixed feelings at first on this !K7 release, but actually grew to appreciate it more after a few listens.
And that can be dangerous if you're someone that loves to collect or listen to tunes, because if you're at all like me, you might get shaded (even if you don't mean to be...) one way or another after the first 2-3 songs as to whether or not you'll like the album. IMO this one started off rather weak. I thought "Something Isn't Right" aptly fit how I felt with the first song. Followed up with "Movers & Shakers", I again wasn't too impressed with the direction of the album. All of this was a little surprising to me since I adore Dani Siciliano's vocals. It wouldn't be until I got to "Harmonize" that I really started to enjoy the album. The orchestration blended with simple electronica started to show the fruits of his approach here, and from then on, I grew to like the album. "We're In Love" had a wonderful melody and gorgeous orchestration. I also really enjoyed "Those Feelings", "Down" and "Just Once". The orchestra elements and blending of elements is really on display on this album, which gives you just enough of a memory of "Bodily Functions", but makes the album here stand-out on it's own. A moody release, typical of Herbert where an enormous amount of thought was put into production.
The verdict? I'd recommend it - but you do yourself an injustice if you don't give it a test lesson, or worse give it only one listen after buying. Really 3 2/3 stars rounded up to 4. I definitely wouldn't class this as 'house', or even really electronic because there's quite a bit of fusion. Just like it was tough to classify Bodily Functions as "house" because there was a strong jazz element (and yet, it still wasn't really 'jazz-house')... though with "Suddenly" and "Leave Me Now"... those were great deep-house tracks. Herbert's always about pushing the boundaries of sound and music, and doesn't want to make just a copy of his previous releases. So check this out - but if you're deciding between this and Bodily Functions, check out Bodily Functions first. The main problem I had with the album is that some of the songs might have been great without vocals. Weird to say since again I like Dani - it's not a knock to her at all. The orchestration is quality - some of the marriage however doesn't fit to me. But still, not enough to recommend against this one.
on March 10, 2011
I had listened to a handful of early (or earlier) Herbert tracks and remixes through other artists and was really interested experiencing the rest of his music. I'll admit I was expecting more of the same (subtle house meets jazz with great micro sampling). Unfortunately, this record is a pretentious mess. The lyrics are grating and the music is ridiculous. If I had to label it that label would be "showtune hell". Bodily Functions is masterpiece compared to this. There can be no doubting the man's talent, but this is a definite "what was he thinking?" record. I discarded the disk. It is THAT irritating.
on March 10, 2011
SCALE, Herbert's latest, skips much of the jazz-inflections of his previous album BODILY FUNCTIONS in favor for a surprising sound: a combination of big band and disco. "Something Isn't Right" is backed by some horns, but it's the strings that seem to speak loudest to the disco era. "The Movers and the Shakers" brings back the horns, accompanied by some soulful vocals and some electronic squiggles and off-kilter percussion (in case we forgot that this is a Herbert production, after all), but "Moving Like a Train" screams for strobelights and platform heels. Luckily, his crafty songwriting does much to surprise the listener who assumes he knows what he's in for -- the straightforward 4-to-the-floor of "Harmonize" or the smooth jazzy romanticism of "We're in Love" and "Those Feelings." "Down" has an almost operatic, classical feel to it, as if it's an excerpt from a ballet. And some of that filters into the start of "Movie Star," even as the track itself goes in a minimalist, tribal direction. "Just Once" mixes a quiet ambience with the yearning emotion of a torch song. And "Wrong" closes out the album with Herbert accompanied with only heartbreak and a piano, much like "The Last Beat" on BODILY FUNCTION. The songs here on SCALE weigh just as strongly as ever.
on March 18, 2009
This CD is really complex. I think simple minded people who apparently think this is supposed to be dance music won't get it. You can have dance elements without being dance... the person who said this was house music AND the person who responded with another 1 star review are both total idiots. Matthew Herbert has NEVER claimed to make house music. And if you think house music is the ultimate genre, you like pretty horrible music. This is EXPERIMENTAL... not ****ty house music. House elements can be ok... but all straight up techno is really not that much better than rap. Think about it. Ok good job.
So this CD being the actual valid genre of electronica, it does what it sets out to achieve. Matthew Herbert abandons the confines of much harsher production from his previous albums and projects to create something much more lush and fluid. His music is an acquired taste; It's incredibly complex production with very calm melodies. The lyrics are pretty awesome save for a few instances. My favorite song on the album is Birds Of A Feather - it perfectly catches the essence of what bird electronica would sound like... I know that doesn't make any sense, you really need to hear it to understand. Movie Star is a pretty crazy song - it's the most electronic song on the album and features Dani Siciliano's extremely distinct vocal style per usual, which mind you, is never a bad thing. We're In Love is gorgeous beyond belief and features some pretty amazing piano and horns. The Movers And The Shakers is a delightful lyrical potpurri.
This album is amazing, and clearly only mindless dance drones are the ones who have given this CD any negative reviews... Really, if you listen to electronic music (not ****ty techno) you will at least probably appreciate this CD.
on January 30, 2010
I bought the album cuz' I love the song "something isn't right" so I played the entire album and I love it , of course you have to be into electronic chill music so you can like it.