Matthew Herbert Big Band Goodbye Swingtime

When Matthew Herbert makes new music, people want to listen. As one of the most consistently innovative producers in contemporary electronic music, Herbert (aka Radioboy, Doctor Rockit and more) has garnered massive, cross-genre respect for his melodic, micro-sampled works. While Matthew’s classical and jazz training has certainly had much to do with his skills and uncompromising vision, he had yet to even hint that a Goodbye Swingtime was to come. True to the meaning of the music itself, pushing past boundaries you think you have, Matthew Herbert has taken the risky step of creating a truly modern jazz release. Though it has all the makings of a big band including four trumpets, four trombones, five saxes, piano, bass, and drums his cast and crew of 40 people is really more of a jazz orchestra. A heavily altered one at that. With arranger Peter Wraight, Herbert recorded his musicians over two days at infamous Abbey Road Studios, taking the results back to his own studio for re-construction. Chopped, looped, and loved, these sounds (with no new additions) became a new, coherent whole. I was initially disappointed with what I heard, finding the album almost too traditional at points. The more I’ve listened, the more the album’s beauty and subtle subversiveness have become clear. Like any good jazz musician, Matthew Herbert clearly understands the power and drama inherent in astute dynamics, managing to steer clear of self-indulgence. Sounds range from sparse to densely layered, with intense opening instrumental "Turning Pages" making clear that this is jazz of a different sort. From this perfect soundtrack for a clever game of Clue to more familiar vocal constructions such as "The Three W’s" and "Misprints" (featuring Plaid’s Mara Carlyle and Shingai Shoniwa respectively), Goodbye Swingtime knowingly plays with the notion of swing music. Never standing still, it bursts, slides, dances, jumps, and yes, swings, entirely deserving of our attention. (Accidental)