Herbert - Score
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Based on his work the past few years, it seems very logical that Matthew Herbert should be working in creating soundtracks to movies. His highly-orchestrated past couple of releases (including the obviously big-band Goodbye Swingtime and the excellent Scale) sound like soundtracks to imaginary films at times, so it should probably be no surprise that he's been creating music for actual films at the same time as well. In fact, he's been doing tracks for films (both small and slightly larger) for the past 10 years now, and Score compiles those pieces onto a single, seventeen song release.

As one might guess, the sound sources are varied, with everything from straight-up orchestra work to darker ambient pieces that are more electronic. The results themselves are varied as well, with a couple tracks that are up with some of his better work, while several pieces on the release fall into sort of a general background-music sort of feel. Such is the case for the opening two tracks on the album ("Funeral" and "End"). Mixing vibraphone, strings, and woodwinds, both pieces are nice enough, but taken outside the context of the film (VIda Y Color), they're little more than pretty.

Following those tracks are a series of big band (with sometime digital deconstruction) pieces that he did for the 2001 film Le Defi, several of which sound compressed at the wrong rate, leaving digital artifacts abounding. On both "Blood And Hair" and "Bull And Cloth" find Herbert created more sample-based tracks that are stunning, with weird gurgling organic noises and haunting choir sounds amid acoustic guitar, while the weird "Rendezvous" mixes clippy sample-based programming and huge male/female choirs into something odd and compelling, as if Arvo Part had teamed up with Matmos.

Elsewhere, he puts together two gorgeous ambient pieces for a Dogme 95 film, a couple older, more electronic-based pieces that don't work quite as well, and a few more random tracks that pull from his huge bag of tricks. Without vocals, his more orchestral-based work is good, but not outstanding, and his soundtrack based work seems to stand on its own the best when he's really breaking outside his more traditional sounds. Fans of Herbert will no doubt want to check this one out, but if you're looking for a place to get into his work there are definitely better places to start.

rating: 710
Aaron Coleman 2007-04-05 21:02:14