If there is a key to Herbert’s success, it’s his musical singularity. There has been shimmering, velvet sweet House. There has been musique concrete. There has been sampling. There has been polemical, protest pop. However, there has only ever been one Matthew Herbert. His body of work is unique in collapsing the walls between pleasure and the political, between the realms of created sound and reality as it is experienced and suffered, between the drily conceptual and the warmly immersive.
To those new to his work, a Matthew Herbert album might initially feel like it belongs recognisably in the realms of dance and electronica – regular rhythms, seductive layers of Techno fabric, diva vocals, no atonal blasts of avant garde noise to drive away the nervous. However, closer inspection reveals a layered mass of idiosyncratic quirks, distinguishing it from the majority of dance music and all its regular presets. Closer reading will reveal that these details are the result of what is to some a bewilderingly laborious process of sample collection. No snatches of sci-fi dialogue or tenth hand breakbeats for Herbert. To his occasional despair, only Matthew Herbert does what he does.