Boomkat Product Review:
This is the first in an impending trilogy of new albums from Matthew Herbert. With One Club and the intriguingly titled One Pig set to follow over the coming months, One One sets out its stall as an oddly conventional solo outing from this modern-day master of the concept album. While we've become accustomed to Herbert's tendency to theme his records (whether it be the cuisine-based romp of Plat Du Jour to the self-explanatory Bodily Functions), One One proves to be a far more by-the-books affair. For this release, Herbert plays, produces - and perhaps most notably - sings everything himself. Apparently this wasn't always easy to get through. In the press-release this seasoned, often flamboyant performer talks about his struggles with nerves: "At times it took dressing in a black tuxedo and half a bottle of wine to get over the nerves. I didn't know how to play many of the instruments when I started. This is a really personal and honest record." Each track takes its name from a city, as if it were a kind of world tour taking in such exotic destinations as 'Singapore', 'Valencia', 'Milan' and, er, 'Tonbridge', yet despite the air miles implied by these track titles, the record is designed to portray a single day in the life of a single man. Perhaps because of this theme the record has a very intimate feel - something compounded by Herbert's voice, which often has the feel of inner-monolgue style, half-whispered narration. Of course, the production is outstandingly good, as underlined by the deep-bass and jazzy timbres of opener 'Manchester', or the ramshackle, sample-jostling thud of standout 'Dublin', which sounds much as you'd imagine a Robert Wyatt record produced by Timbaland might. A detailed, yet often very downbeat, introspective collection, One One comes as a natural reflex reaction to the last Matthew Herbert Big Band album (There's You And There's Me), which featured a mind-boggling 2000 samples and 350 contributors. Here, Herbert's music is at its most intimate - he's as much a songwriter on this record as he is an electronic producer, begging the question: where to next? Happily, to find out we need only wait until June, when the next release in the trilogy is slated to arrive.