In listening to the reissue of Matthew Herbert's 100 Lbs, it's important to put it into proper context. Originally released as a series of EPs over a decade ago, his music touched on house music of the era but pushed it into a slightly more sprightly realm. It's definitely created for the dancefloor, but the beats aren't massive and pummeling. It's a little more light on its feet, and while it hasn't aged as well as some of his other work, it serves as a good introduction to an artist who has certainly grown by leaps and bounds both musically and thematically since then.
As a whole, the whopping double-disc set (that includes a full disc of rare and unreleased cuts) is somewhat inconsistent, but you can literally hear Herbert grow with just about every single track. The opener of "Rude" sounds the most dated of any tracks on the release, with some choppy beats and rather simple synth organ melody bursting out over low-end blowouts. From there, he kicks it into 4/4 for some time, but weaves slightly new wrinkles into the pieces.
"Friday They Dance" is a perfect example, slamming a thick kick down while rumbling low-end basslines, vocal samples, and minimal production pushes the track onward and upward over the course of almost seven minutes. "Take Me Back" is even more stripped, slamming with a sort of dirty Chicago house style that features a super-repetitive vocal sample, a relentless beat, and gut-rumbling bass. The closer of "See You On Monday" is another standout, stretching his light touch out over almost twelve minutes of sparkling dancefloor fuel.
The bonus CD features tracks that are a little bit more varied in style, which isn't really any surprise given their wider range span of creation dates. It's on this disc that you an especially hear him start to incorporate his more highly-detailed sample style, as vocal contributions by Roisin Murphy and others are turned into tiny bits of data for him to use at his own precise disposal. He also ventures much further outside the traditional house genre, pulling in even more of a jazz influence while continually pushing his own boundaries. Although it's not nearly as developed as some of his work that would follow, the odd "The Puzzle" is a perfect example of his use of unique sampling and sounds in creating a track that bubbles with personality but still causes hips to sway.
Considering his current distaste for more traditional sound sources and his more contextual concepts behind each album, it's almost hard to imagine that some of the work on 100 Lbs is that of Herbert, but as mentioned above it's also interesting to hear the beginning of his musical journey based on where his path has taken him. Inconsistent and somewhat hurt by the passage of time, this reissue is largely for followers of Herbert himself or serious house fans looking for a slight tweak on the formula.