Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Barbecue Bus reviews Matthew Herbert’s One Pig

For his new release One Pig, British musician Matthew Herbert may well have invented a new form of sound: farm to table electronica. The album follows the life cycle of the eponymous swine from birth to dinner plate. Arranged chronologically, One Pig transforms the sounds—recorded over thirteen months—of the pig and its environment into a diverse dance record. Herbert dissolves squeals into dissonance, forms a rumbling march step from guttural grunts, and, in the album’s best track, “February,” transforms the sharpening of knives into a tremendous rave-up. The album’s concept will certainly strike most as strange, while its sound, at times, is hard to swallow. Several melancholia-riddled tracks (featuring the whine of swinging metal gates, the yelps of a distressed animal, etc. ) could easily be mistaken for a Angelo Badalamenti or Trent Reznor-produced film score. The album, however, is not just a record of life and reminder of approaching death, but a political statement that takes the nose-to-tail food movement a step further. Eventually, this one pig becomes not only life-sustaining meat for human consumption but a sustainable sound. Herbert crafted the pig's bones and skin into drums. To record “January,” Herbert built a heart-like organ instrument, which pumped the pig’s own blood, to provide the song’s pulsing-heart beat. On the penultimate track, he layers the masticatory sounds of eaters joyfully feasting on the pig’s meat with that of the animal itself gorging; Herbert's brilliant mirroring ultimately shows just how similar are man and pig.

- Rien Fertel



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