Friday, April 16, 2004

Thump the Box

Unless somebody else has been flying way under my radar, the best and most interesting producer of house music over the last 5 or so years has been Matthew Herbert, whose been releasing a steady stream of some of most sensually constructed house music I’ve ever heard. He’s a master of texture, with an understanding of house music drama that rivals any of the so-called giants of house. I can’t think of anybody working today who uses samples with more creativity and success. He builds most of his rhythms out of borrowed or personally made field recordings. A bass drum might be the thumping of a large delivery box or the hood of his father’s old MG Midget, while the whirr of assorted kitchen cutlery acts in place of cymbals.

His partner Dani Siciliano has sung on every release since 1998’s Around the House. I find her voice tremendously appealing, relaxed and smoky as any torch singer. Herbert often deftly rearranges snippets of her vocals, taking everything from Siciliano inhaling to the popping and wooshing sounds of a melodic fragment she’s previously sung. Atop all that delivery box thumping and kitchen cutlery whirring there’s usually a lovely weave of Siciliano’s voice accompanying it. She also plays a mean clarinet.

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