Although I was a little behind-the-times in hearing Herberts latest release Bodily Functions, I thought it was an amazing reconstruction of the well-worn house genre. He broke things down to a human level and rebuilt them using human sounds like knuckles popping and hearts beating, literally giving his music a touch that artists churning out mechanical releases in the genre only wish they had.
Secondhand Sounds is a 2-CD, 21 track collection of his work that spans well over 2 hours long, and while he breaths a new life into much of the work that he's putting under the knife, the compilation unfortunately suffers from a bit of bloat. The problem with the release isn't that it isn't innovative or interesting, as Herbert has pulled many of his trademark sounds into the fray along with his inventive beat programming. My main issue with listening to such a huge chunk of remixes is that while it's interesting at first, a major majority of the tracks flow with the same sort of sounds and tempos, blurring the edges together and sometimes leaving tracks barely indistinguishable from one another.
That last sentence is actually what had kept me away from a majority of 'house' music for some time anyway. Like other genres like trance, so many artists working releasing music had preyed on one another and utilized the same tricks, watering down the genre and leaving those interested with a glut of things to wonder about (and don't get me started on the Global Underground series). Lest you think I'm completely uninterested in this release, though, I will say that it's still much better than most releases in the same genre. As mentioned above, Herbert has a fairly distinct style that works, and whether he's remixing an artist like Mono, Moloko, or even himself (which he does many times on the disc), he almost always gives the artist being remixed a fresh dose of life.
Nils Petter Molvaer's "Merciful" opens the release with an old-tyme radio recording sample before dropping off into a slippery smooth beat and the same vocal sample being chopped and repositioned strategically as another low-end melody wraps itself around the still-thumping beat. His take on Serge Gainsbourg's "Bonnie & Clyde" clips along with a hiccupped vocal sample and another lucious low-end groove, while he takes his own track "Suddenly" and glitches it up even more, chopping the vocals and pianos and giving them an even better interplay than the original.
If you're a house music afacianado or a fan of Herbert, you'd probably best go out and get this release straight away, as it compiles a lot of mixes that would be harder to get elsewhere, but if you're just getting into him as an artist, I'd probably recommend sticking with an album like his excellent Bodily Functions to warm up with. I know that he's been a busy person with remixing and know that he's done even more different sounding remixes (as is evident with his mix on the recent Fridge Eph Reissue), and it would have been nice to get a slightly more varied mixture on this release. Alas, from his prolific output, this could probably just be the first in a series of collections, so house-heads rejoice.