31 March 2010

Upcoming projects from Matthew Herbert

While engaging with this project's recordings, it was impossible not to recount the work of 'found sound' artists. Musicians like Matmos and Matthew Herbert, for example, have been sampling everyday noises for years before constructing them into intricate, if sometimes wonky, compositions. Today I received notification of three new projects by the latter which are all due for release this year.

Herbert's first - titled One One - is a solo album which is something of a departure after a series of collaborative works. It also includes his singing. The second will be One Club: a long-player assembled from sounds recorded in a German nighclub. The last - and perhaps most controversial - is One Pig.

The process for the final offering has been documented at http://thisisapig.blogspot.com/ and, yes, it involves the noises made by a pig. However Herbert intended to use the sounds of the pig's slaughter in the piece but had difficulties finding an abattoir and attending vet willing to allow the recording of this act.

Last month PETA condemned the project as "cruelty as entertainment" which prompted Herbert to argue that he had merely intended to record the pig throughout its entire life cycle. And the pig at the centre of the controversy was born on a farm that raises its animals for consumption. Herbert pointed out that he hadn't interfered in any way with these events but also made a case for the right to draw attention to just how meat is produced.

Subsequently this (currently unfinished) work has possibly become less about "entertainment" and more about challenging ideas: notions not only about how we feed ourselves (plus the hypocritical squeemishness we develop when faced with the truth about what ends up in our supermarkets), but also the role of art in providing information that might otherwise be hidden from the public.

Which is even more interesting when you consider that Herbert [who isn't a vegetarian; I'm not either] insists that he started this project with no agenda. Especially given that the issues surrounding the work have additionally inspired a campaign for clarity regarding the methods involved in food manufacture (http://www.seeyourfood.org/).

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