‘The Shakes’, his first album under the name HERBERT since 2006’s dark orchestral disco fantasy ‘Scale.’ The record can be seen as a sequel to the much-lauded ‘Bodily Functions’ and is the latest in a series of albums that stretches back nearly twenty years to the minimalist house classic 100lbs. It follows a vinyl-heavy trio of underground releases last year (part 6,7,8) and is Herbert’s attempt to “seduce the listener back to the dance-floor”.
The Shakes deals with intensely personal issues such as raising young children against a backdrop of an increasingly unstable world and, amongst other things, utilizes the sound of used bullets and shells bought off eBay as part of its soundscape. It is also perhaps a treatise on how “music helps to motivate, provide respite and divert us from the challenges of the everyday” and Herbert himself describes it as “electronic music for the soul.”
Musicians featured on The Shakes include Dave Okumu (The Invisible, Jessie Ware) on guitar, Sam Beste (Hejira, Amy Winehouse) on keyboards, organ, saxophonist Ben Castle (Quincy Jones, Radiohead), trombonist Alistair White (Van Morrison, Blur) and Chris Storr (Beyonce, James Brown) on trumpet. Vocalists on the album include Rahel Debebe-Dessalegne (Hejira, Nitin Sawhney) and Ade Omotayo (Kindness, Amy Winehouse) and notable highlights include Herbert’s Grandfather’s piano and a piano from Wormwood Scrubs on Smart, the sounds of UK protest marches (on Strong) and the sound of those aforementioned bullets on Safety. Most notable of all however is Father Wills, the vast church organ of St Jude’s church in Hampstead that provides the huge depth and scale on much of the album.
Herbert says of the recordings, “After all my work with sounds, an area I feel is my true calling, standing in St Jude’s and hearing Sam (Beste) play some of these songs on the organ at full volume, it’s just impossible to argue with the emotional impact of that: the refinement of hundred’s of years attention to a single instrument. At times like this a handful of a poor pigs bones doesn’t stand a chance.”