Matthew Herbert is a clear example of someone in the constant search of originality and new perspectives around sound. He has published over 25 albums under various nicknames, has collaborated with important artists in the electronic music scene and has also worked in films, performances and other projects, such as BBC’s New Radiophonic Workshop in which he is currently creative director.
His search of unique sounds (evident in his manifesto) has make his use of sampling field recording very special, gradually getting more sophisticated and profound, not just in terms of technical procedures but in other senses, as political, cultural and social contexts (check out his ‘sonography‘). A clear example of that is his latest album “The End of Silence”, published last year in his own label Accidental Records, a release work is based in one single five-second recording of the sound of a bomb explosion that happened during the battle of Ras Lanuf in Libya on 11th March 2011 and was captured in audio by photographer who sent the recording to the Herbert. The album is a clear reflection around the boundaries between sonic archiving, audio documentary and the lack of referential aspects around field recording, creating a bridge between political perspectives, philosophical ideas, contextual approaches, aesthetic perspectives and musical pursuits.
Other reliable example of such convergence are other works such as the controversial “One Pig” which was made from field recordings taken during the life of a pig from birth, growing up, to when was killed and eaten by humans. Also other albums by the artist, such as “Plat du jour”, “The Mechanics of Destruction”, “One Club”, among others, maintain those relationships, where field recording is both used as a musical source and also as a way of shaking the notions of a particular political or ideological aspect.
I’ve known the work of Matthew Herbert for a while, and that progression of his work and the exploration of such perspectives towards field recording caught my curiosity, so I arranged an conversation with him some months ago in order to talk about his visions towards field recording, composition and the role of sound/listening in today’s world. Below is the result: