Herbert: "The Movers And The Shakers/Harmonise"


By Mark Abraham | 24 April 2006

Double A-side wins, as both tracks extend the polygonal jazz attack of Ruby Blue, morphing disparate horn and woodwind samples into dense cross-hatched shadings. Neither is quite as unrepentantly “pop” as his work with Murphy, but that’s fine, ‘cause we don’t need him stalling on his commitment to adventure, even if it means occasional missteps like Plat Du Jour. These two tracks recall the highs of Around the House and Bodily Functions, and placed together reveal just how able Herbert is in making the happy and sad absolutely bump with the same ferocity.

The intro to “The Movers and the Shakers” is classic Herbert; he manipulates the kicks and snares through volume and stress to stilt the bass line and create the impression of an off-time rout. The chorus is even better: he delays the beat slightly creating a moment of expectation and resolution as the other instruments swarm around the tonic. Over top he pastes melodic sine waves; raucous interlopers, they scare in exactly the way the calm and melodic melodies sooth. These juxtapositions works together, the song itself is just tense enough to mirror a busy downtown intersection. Is it about white-collar workers? Or people moving and shaking to this sad tale of their existence?

"Harmonise" tells me “up and down,” but which escalator am I supposed to take? Is it the horn-and-snare combo thudding in the foreground? The George of the Jungle bassline line that keeps careening into Pastorius-runs? The foreboding flutes that play perfect counter-melodies off the beat? The horns that gape like gasping mouths in the center? Dani Siciliano says, “sing when you talk or listen,” but what words could I use to respond to those fantastic harmonies? This thing plays like an Escher drawing; to get out, which body part do I need to move first? Is David Bowie going to emerge out of the gloom? Is “labyrinthian” a word? Sigh… why doesn’t Herbert produce everything?