Matthew Herbert - One Club
Dominic Valvona 02/10/2010
From the foundations to all the fixtures and fittings inside, Frankfurt's infamous Robert Johnson nightclub is used by the composer Matthew Herbert to create a suitable sound palette for his latest conceptual endeavour of experimental clattering and cyclonic dance orientated music.
As part of his One trilogy of paid-up avant-garde works, Herbert parts with the starkly laid bare vocals of the first edition, One One, to craft an album that is quite simply, “…club music made out of the club”.
Recorded on a single night with an assembled array of strategically placed mics, the sounds of the club-goers mingling, applauding and moving about were all collated to assemble countless sequences. This audience also lent their names to all the tracks: further integrating themselves for prosperity on the part musique concrète, part Aphex Twin - especially his Caustic Window material - project.
Most of these sound effect loops or collages begin with familiar tangible snippets of either human interaction or background noise, before working up into off-kilter sophisticated electronic dance music. Setting the tone perfectly is the opening track 'Robert Johnson' (named after the club of course, as I doubt he could make the actual night due to being long dead!), a weighty number resplendently full of industrial sounds that flitter about to a marching oscillating series of clanging constructed beats. Following along similar lines is 'Alex Duwe', which adds in a chorus of, what can only be described as, Alka-Seltzers falling into glasses of water and kitchen utensils being thrown around, all to the throngs of a galloping cluttering barracking set of tight rhythms.
The choral charm encapsulated on 'Marcus Bujak' plays out an exulted kind of worship at the foot of the DJ booth, whilst richly interspersed arpeggiator effects lounge over a paw tapping percussion, reversed loops and subtly laid down rushes of melody to produce one of the stand out tracks.
Herbert sometimes uses snatched cheers or euphoric chanting rhetoric as a kind of chorus and motif. On 'Kerstin Basler' he uses a repetitive female led cut-up of, “We are everyone, we are everything”, to the male reply of, “Yeah right!” The track also uses hints of piano and what could be strings, on this Euro-anthem techno glitch tune, that sounds like Stockhausen conducting an illicit rave from outside on the pavement.
Every nook and cranny has been investigated to produce this buzzing, choppy, shifting synesthesia of an album. Thoughtfully orchestrated, reverent in its theoretical allusions, One Club is a more refined and cultivated affair, made for a more conceptually acute audience of dance music fans.