Re-release albums have a hard time being reviewed, at least from my perspective right now. What more can be said about an album that was released when I was in elementary school, and also, what does this music contribute that it already hasn’t. If there was something it missed on its first release, why not do a re-release not too long after the fact instead of waiting 10 years, get things done and over with?
100 Lbs. was Matthew Herbert’s premiere LP recording, combining the contents of three EPs released the same year. A man preoccupied with the limits of what can be called music, delving into aleatoric music and musique concrète as a student, it wouldn’t be expected that dance music would quite be his bag. His was the bag of chips he used as an instrument for his first live musical performance. Herbert was working as a DJ though, and occupations like that tend to be inundated with dance music. Much of the music, Herbert reports, was “very male, macho, aggressive music” bulging with big bass muscles and abs like a drum set-up. Herbert, somewhat dissatisfied with this, wanted to make something, “a bit more homely, with more humility to it,” minimizing in area that wants nothing but big and exciting.
This was a bold move for Herbert, or anyone for that matter. The music he produced in response to this, while of course not being lightly ambient, was lithe and more subtle than most of the stuff out there at the time, keeping his sounds gentle, but dense. Instead of laying a big heaping bowl o’ bass on the listener that drowned people in a compulsive dance atomsphere, Herbert sprayed them with a mist, tickling, tantalizing them into moving themselves onto the dance floor. This music did not throw itself into people’s ears, flaunting off how hott the beat is, but came into the ball like Cinderella, attractive without telling a soul what she is.
100 Lbs. was a success, limited of course like the start of most musical careers, but a success. His delicate audacity got him the notice of big names in dance music like Moloko, and allowed him to play to a wider range of audience, playing in many countries around Europe. It was a great kickstart to a career that would base itself upon what 100 Lbs. was about, change. Herbert could have settled for producing “macho” music, but that wouldn’t be doing anything. That would just be adding more of what’s already here, contributing nothing to the musical spectrum, complacent to resign himself from musical exploration for sake of stability and safety. Exploration is dangerous business. The process has no regard for the explorer and Herbert’s ship could have been tossed asunder and capsized, drowning in his choices, which everyone labels `mistakes’ in the presence of a Herbert who did not make it. The re-release of 100 Lbs. is just as much about the music as it is about what was necessary to make that music.
Hmm. That wasn’t so hard.
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Cristian Vogel – Specific Momentific