Matthew Herbert - Score

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I made the mistake of first playing this CD in the car whilst my significant other was driving. Before the album was allowed to get halfway through there were complaints that it was sending her to sleep at the wheel and it was quickly ejected, not to be heard again for a couple of months. Upon re-listening, this time all the way through, a couple of things were realized. Firstly, this is no driving CD when played at medium to low volume as background music. Secondly, upon turning this up on the stereo at home, how foolish I had been to let this album sit around unplayed!

As best summarized on the Accidental Records website, Score is an album of 17 tracks covering the first decade of Herbert’s “burgeoning sideline as a writer of film scores…. showcasing yet another of his multiple musical personalities”. Herbert is renowned for being driven in his quest of sonic experimentation, for creating music out of new sounds from often unlikely places. As mentioned, Score straddles the last ten years of Herberts career, almost acting as a parallel “best of” compilation. Before reading any further, get a proper understanding of Herbert’s methodology to recording music HERE. It gives a better appreciation for the end result.

To be honest I don’t know any of the movies for which these pieces have been recorded and only recognize the classic Singing in the Rain that he reinterpreted in 2001, out of any of the tracks. But that’s hardly important for this type of album. As I quickly discovered, it’s one to turn up loud and get lost in the movie scenes you’re creating in your head. There’s more traditional sounding atmospheric scoring full of string ensembles and delicate woodwind melodies that surely signify dramatic moments. Then there are the quirky big band pieces that reek of good times. The minimal sounds of just a few simple string instruments and electronic glitchy percussion feel like movement, perhaps a traveling scene. Then there’s moments when it seems all of these have been combined together and it’s anything goes both musically and on the screen. But these are the interpretations of Matthew Herbert and for all I know these scenes are nothing like what’s actually depicted.

So in short, this is not recommended as a driving album (though perhaps might be a suitable mood enhancer to help fight road rage and other such road stresses). However it’s an album to which you can sit back and let the imagination run wild to. It doesn’t have the cohesiveness of a soundtrack for a single movie but this weakness is perhaps it’s greatest strength with the breadth of music on offer. Definitely recommended listening.

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