Thursday, June 10, 2004


The sole cultural advantage to living in my particular suburb of Buffalo, NY is the ability to pick up CIUT-fm, a freeform station out of Toronto, on my car radio. Like all such stations I've heard, there are some really exciting shows and some not-so-exciting ones. Tonight I caught an interview with DJ and experimental electronic musician "Herbert," a.k.a. Matthew Herbert, a.k.a. Dr. Rockit, a.k.a. lots of other stuff. He sees the sampler as a tool for making music out of literally anything; some of his earliest experiments involved crumpled paper, vegetables, you name it. I'm almost always a sucker for interesting combinations of rhythm and noise (too much of one without the other gets annoying after a while), and I couldn't wait to hear his project -- in the guise of Radio Boy -- called THE MECHANICS OF DESTRUCTION.

All of the sounds on the album are sampled from the detritus of our culture--a trip to Mickey D's on the track "MacDonald's," a pair of blue boxer shorts from the Gap on "Gap," etc. Liner notes on the website discuss the background of each corporation, and coolest of all, the album is distributed for free by download (at TigerSushi, an internet radio station/music store I've totally got to check out in more detail) and by mail.

And the music? So far, three tracks in, I'm loving it; Herbert hits that delicate balance of concept and execution. The idea's great on its own, but the songs are, well, actual songs, not just Cage-y sound collages you'd only want to hear once before moving on.

If this all sounds like Matmos, the duo who devoted an entire album to the sampled sounds of plastic surgery and related medical procedures, the connection is intentional; some of their side projects appear on Herbert's labels, he uses some of the equipment they developed, etc.

I've got eleven more tracks to download sooner or later, but here's your spur-of-the-moment report from the frontlines of a new discovery.

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