Matthew Herbert “Around The House” Reflection


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Earlier in the millennia, Pitchfork had named this album one of the greatest albums from the 1990’s. Whether that was an exaggerated claim is nonetheless unrelated, because the House scene would not be where it is today if it weren’t for the works of Matthew Herbert himself.

Herbert is one of those artists that have a peculiar technique for implementing sounds together, and somehow make them work. In his later work after Bodily Functions from 2001, Herbert has been experimenting much more voraciously with chasing the natural sounds of the world and synchronizing them into digital noise and aurally pleasing soundscapes.  Lately, Herbert has been responsible for conducting the ominous music behind Sebastian Leilo’s two most recent films (Disobedience and A Fantastic Woman).

It seems that his talent could comprehend the various scales that music has to offer, even more than the average artist perhaps. His earlier works included renovating Deep House albums that sound similar to the late 1990’s House scene, but added flares and intricacies that made it different from your standard Theo Parrish or Basement Jaxx record.

Around the House is not your typical House project. All the elements are there, such as the bopping bass lines and the melodic undertones, but there’s a different touch to it. The first minute of the album consists of background scuffling intentionally left in there before heading into the eerie and bouncing sound of So Now. Included in this track and throughout much of the album is the compressed and revered voice of Dani Siciliano, which for some reason I can’t get enough of.

The last half of the track utilizes his esoteric touches and foreshadows what makes his music different from his contemporaries and even modern artists. The next track, Around The House, integrates unlikely instrumentation and makes a cohesive piece with it. There are indications of the drum pad, xylophone chords, and odd key leads.

The fifth track, The Last Beat, may be one of the most serene, nocturnal tracks I have ever heard, and my personal favorite from this album. After the lingering laser effects start off the track, Siciliano gorgeously evocates over simple piano chords and foreign guitar strings. The only way I could describe the tranquility this track portrays is the lack of noise occurring. At some points, you’d only hear the piano chords. At other points, even only the quiet snares added to the background.

The quiet vibration revolts in the next track, Going Round, which is a catchy tune with Siciliano’s auto-tuned poetry amplifying the bounce. The song, We Still Have (The Music), elicits a similar sound. It’s a House track that involves the bass and grooves that make a danceable tune but involves Herbert’s signature sound, which is hard to describe.

The track This Time has a pulsating beat that hurdles through the quiet ensemble of snares and synth leads. The song Never Give Up is what you’d expect from a  typical Dance record which follows the typical bounce formula and sensuous keyboard lead. The last song, We Go Wrong, refutes against the danceable grooves and hushes into a quiet peddle. The track progresses into an ensemble of quiet noises and cohesive invigoration by the end.

This album likes to bounce back and forth with its signature sound. Although, they don’t feel discordant in order. All these tracks comfortably line up with one another, and wouldn’t really change much if they were rearranged in order.

His sound consists of quiet reverberations that seem to fit well in an urban nightclub. It’s not boisterous but it’s not boring either. These tracks elude a sensation not meant for today’s times but still transcends the late 1990’s nonetheless. The album is its own arcane void that many listeners could appreciate in anytime or era. It seems that as far as Herbert has gone now, you could see a progression in his style of recording.

You can hear the hushed noises and unintentional background sounds that level well within these tracks. After Bodily Functions, Herbert has taken that niche to the fullest extent. With projects like Around The House, you get a House album, but from an artist who appreciates life and shows it in his work, which is the only way I could truly describe this experience.

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