Herbert Complete is just Herbert — not Matthew Herbert (well, it is…you’ll see), not Wishmountain or Radio Boy or Doctor Rockit, or his Big Band, or any other business card he can pull out with his name asterisked or in small print. It’s just the Englishman, long regarded as a resourceful/stabiliser of the impractical, subversive, electronic eccentric, displaying his dancefloor chops on this mammoth anthology of reissues, remixes, B-sides, extra extras and stories to tell.
1996’s 100lbs is US-crossing deep house where a slender chic is jockeyed by boxy beats that help develop a harder head for fixed focus techno (the title track, “Take Me Back”). Two years later, Around the House finds deeper understanding of the supine position, engaging in long underwater withdrawals occasionally resting on the nearest rockery, and having Dani Siciliano boost the album’s breathing apparatus with svelte input. Despite the emergence of Herbert’s self-imposed restrictions as to recording methods, its flowing looseness makes a mockery of its grab-bag outlook, mirrored by the more open cause of headphone-cradling, jazz-speckled composure Bodily Functions.
Which in turn, keeps on ironing out the kinks of the clipped, clanky house, garage and techno, here placed in the folders of rare and unreleased club miscellany marked Early Herbert. Nuts and bolts protrude, but are bang into the groove, willing to go for the jugular, and a far cry from the pop opulence (with leftfield studies by ever screwier means) of the Abbey Road-recorded Scale. Class tells throughout, and worth educating yourself with if you wanna become a Herbert hermit.
File under: Matmos, Moloko, DJ Koze