» Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]


 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]


 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum

Rating: 9.5/10 ?

June 13, 2006
Dance culture and the glockenspiel??? Synth arpeggiations and flutes??? Wha--? Since when did Matthew Herbert become Danny Elfman? Either I don't know much about Herbert or I'm the last one to find this hidden cool. If ever there was an argument for the marketability of non-techno electronic music, Scale is it.

A 2006 release following the minimalist Plat Du Jour with a set decidedly from the opposite side of the spectrum, Scale sees Herbert using orchestral string and horn sections that would make Quincy Jones stan'up and reco'nize. And yeah, I thought about the instrumental addition as a cheap ploy, an attempt by someone who has been around for a while to tangent their discog stock. But the flourishes can only be viewed as a pretentious move on the surface; once it is listened through, Scale is realized as a thought-out and crafted album, not a fluke stumbled upon in folly. Anyways, Matthew Herbert has done some exceptional things leading up to this point, and he at least deserves the benefit of the doubt.

Amid all this talk of flourishes and tangents Herbert fans are adivised to fear not; the electronic beat-locomotive rumbles on, and Herbert's creative connection with vocalist and partner Dani Siciliano are still present. What has changed, or rather been added to, is, to some extent, the songwriting ideology: blanketing the subtle sounds of digitalized drum samples and repeating synthesizer melodies are elements of instruments performed live, and in this case the pop-archaic orchestral string/horn element.

Often the argument is made that current pop music is substandard, that the popular music of the mid-to-late 20th century (Bennie Goodman, The Beatles, Glenn Miller onward to Earth Wind & Fire, Quincy Jones, and Michael Jackson) was "real music." The idea has been crafted from the thought that less work and less performing on actual physical instruments equal less real music. In part, I would have to agree. However, this glazes over the fact that creating music in a "digital" or electronic sense can take just as much effort/talent/luck/genius/et cetera. Not saying that it always does, but it can. Scale is evidence supporting the growth and potential of not only electronic music but new music of the 21st century that blurs the lines between organic and synthetic altogether.

Part of what makes this album extraordinary is that it is composed. In "The Movers and The Shakers" Herbert places bubbling drum beats (think kinda like "The Perculator" song) alongside big band saxophone and trumpet section countermelody. Throw in key changes, keyboard basslines, male and female vocal soulfulness, electronic freakouts, and a bright overall texture and you have something altogether unrivaled. Remember when you heard Bjork's "It's Oh So Quiet" and thought to yourself: Even though I knew she was cool... where the fuck did that come from?? Scale is kind of like that, but an entire album of it, a pillar for both those who believe that electronic music and cross-genrefication are the ways of music's future. For everyone else it will still resonate as one of the best albums of 2006.

Reviewed by Josh Zanger
Joshua Ian Zanger, a native of rural Chicago, rocks many a world with his writing, style, and generally sweet aroma.

See other reviews by Josh Zanger



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