Scale

Studio Album by released in 2006
Scale's tracklist:
Something Isn't Right
The Movers and the Shakers
Moving Like a Train
Harmonise
We're in Love
Birds of a Feather
Those Feelings
Down
Movie Star
Just Once
Wrong

Scale review

Scale samples 723 items in its 11 politically charged dance tracks

In just a decade as a recording artist, Matthew 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 Bjork, 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. Herbert likes to record concept albums with instrumentation derived from real-world objects. Scale samples 723 items (including petrol pumps, answer machines and coffins) in its 11 politically charged dance tracks. 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. 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. Scale 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.

Scale is heady and captivating and you don't want it to end

Listening to Scale is like taking a high-speed train through a land where the scenery is always changing – it's heady, captivating and you don't want it to end. The first track, Something Isn’t Right, features the beautiful voices of Dani Siciliano and Neil Thomas. It has a strong disco funk flavor to it, as does The Movers And Shakers, with its evident critique on current global-political conflict. Move Like A Rain follows a similar disco groove while Harmonise also features the haunting silky voice of Siciliano, it has a staccato, bumpy melody and will stick with you. Those Feelings again features Siciliano's strong, complex, female vocals which bring to mind Moloko, but this isn't too surprising as Herbert produced Roisin Murphy's debut solo album. Birds Of A Feather opens with some blippy, string-tinted dance music, but makes several subtle shifts and turns in a soulful, chugging ending that's sublime. Down is even better, blistering through polyrhythmic sections that alternate between glitchy chamber music and queasy, frantic tech house. It's a kind of toxic lullaby that feels like the sound of stars falling. Movie Star has an instrumental intro that you might find in a classic black and white detective film. It's a scathing critique of celebrity and cult of self-improvement. The last track, Wrong, is exceptionally brief, but watch out for it as Herbert sings on it.

Herbert has produced his most accessible and mellifluous song collection to date

With his new album, restless musical innovator Matthew Herbert has produced his most accessible and mellifluous song collection to date. Scale is everything that was great about the disco underground: soulful vocals, progressive politics and smart party music. But it's also very much a product of its time, both aware of its surroundings and focused on its influences. If it isn't a major shift in dance music, it's a perfect demonstration of the best the genre has to offer in 2006, bereft of the watered-down genre-bending that has, both positively and negatively, informed the past few years. Most of the unusual objects on Scale were deployed in groups of 12, a thematic nod to the western musical scale of 12 notes. But the album title also has another meaning: scale as in perspective, the means to gauge the distance between past and present, childhood and adulthood, personal contentment and global discontent. Finding a way to measure his own life as a successful musician with freedom against a global backdrop of war, poverty and inequality. Inspiring and ingenious, this is an album you shouldn't be without and what's even better is that it gives away more and more of itself every time you listen to it.

(07.06.2006)
Rate review4.82
Total votes - 17


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