MATTHEW HERBERT, ELECTRONIC INNOVATOR & SONIC EXPLORER, RETURNS WITH HIS BIG BAND ON THERE’S ME AND THERE’S YOU
Matthew Herbert’s dazzling new album, There’s Me and There’s You will be released October 28, 2008 on !K7. There’s Me and There’s You is the most seductive, sophisticated and subversive collection of protest songs ever recorded. Blending lush jazz instrumentation, soulful vocals, fascinating rhythms and a secret underground arsenal of outlandish samples, as well as featuring the cream of British jazz musicians, There’s Me and There’s You marks Herbert’s second collaboration with his big band and is a sequel of sorts to his 2001 project Goodbye Swingtime.
An electronic innovator, sonic explorer and prolific collaborator, Herbert has released a huge catalogue of critically acclaimed music under his own name as well as Doctor Rockit, Wishmountain, Radio Boy and others. He has also produced and remixed artists as diverse as Bjrk, REM, Quincy Jones, John Cale, Yoko Ono, Dizzee Racal and Roisin Murphy, as well as working with highly regarded original thinkers such as the chef Heston Blumenthal and playwright Caryl Churchill. However, There’s Me and There’s You marks a new chapter in his career as it is Herbert’s debut recording with revered and versatile London-based artist Eska whose vast array of past collaborators includes David Sylvian, Lewis Taylor, Anthony Tidd and Afrobeat legend Tony Allen.
Herbert’s albums always closely interweave medium with message, surface beauty with political subtext. Effortlessly wrapping deluxe avant-jazz arrangements around polemical lyrics and artfully selected noises, this album’s dominant theme is power and it’s abuses in the 21st century. Recurring motifs include the war in Iraq, the power of monarchy, religion, media, wealth inequalities, state-sponsored torture, the hypocrisy of climate change politics and the evils of rampant consumerism.
For example, the album contains a memorial to the victims of the Iraq war in “One Life,” which samples the incubator system which kept Herbert’s prematurely born son alive. Each beep represents 100 people killed in Iraq, from the start of the war in 2003 to October 2006. The disturbingly beautiful collage track “Nonsound” is made of ambient recordings from Palestine, including the sound of protestors being shot against the wall that divides the territories. He wanted to record both the favourite and most hated sounds of ordinary Palestinians, and this is what was sent back.
Additional samples include the sound of 70 condoms being scraped along the floor of the British Museum, a match being struck in the Houses of Parliament, one of a 100 nails being hammered into a coffin, vocals recorded at a Kent landfill site, a Kensington branch of McDonalds, a “stop and search” document issued under the Prevention of Terrorism act, 100 credit cards being cut up and 70 people blowing over water bottles, shaking US election badges and squirting bottles of Britney Spears’ “Curious” perfume in the grand entrance hall of the British Museum. This is an album, in many senses, of extraordinary renditions.
There’s Me and There’s You is full of playful melodies and deceptively joyous music paired with dark and angry themes. Throughout, Herbert’s message is deadly serious, but ultimately a hugely optimistic statement of people power. In the months ahead, Herbert plans to tour the album with an 18-piece orchestra, taking his Trojan Horse of sophisticated subversion directly to the people. This is democracy in action, a musical resistance movement, speaking truth to power in defiantly hopeful ways.
01 The Story
04 The Yesness
07 The Rich Man’s Prayer
11 One Life
12 Just Swing