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“The Shakes” is Matthew Herbert’s first album under the name Herbert since 2006’s dark orchestral disco fantasy ‘Scale’. The album deals with intensely personal issues such as raising young children against a backdrop of an increasingly unstable world. Herbert himself suggests that the record can be seen as a treatise on how “music helps to motivate, provide respite and divert us from the challenges of the everyday” and that it is “electronic music for the soul.”
In many ways, 'The Shakes' is a sequel to Herbert’s much-lauded 'Bodily Functions' album and is the latest in a series of albums that stretches back nearly 20 years to his minimalist house classic '100lbs'. It follows a vinyl-heavy trio of underground releases last year (Part 6,7,8) and is Herbert’s attempt to “seduce the listener back to the dancefloor”.
Musicians featured on The Shakes include Dave Okumu (The Invisible, Jessie Ware) on guitar, Sam Beste (Hejira, Amy Winehouse) on keyboards, organ, saxophonist Ben Castle (Quincy Jones, Radiohead), trombonist Alistair White (Van Morrison, Blur) and Chris Storr (Beyonce, James Brown) on trumpet. Vocalists on the album include Rahel Debebe-Dessalegne (Hejira, Nitin Sawhney) - who sings on 'Middle', 'Smart', 'Ones', 'Know', 'Silence' and 'Warm' - and Ade Omotayo (Kindness, Amy Winehouse) - who sings on 'Battle', 'Strong', 'Stop', 'Bed', 'Safety' and 'Peak' - and notable highlights include Herbert’s Grandfather’s piano and a piano from Wormwood Scrubs on 'Smart', the sounds of UK protest marches ('Strong') and the sound of used bullets and shells bought from eBay on 'Safety'. Most notable of all however is Father Wills, the vast church organ of St Jude’s church in Hampstead that provides the huge depth and scale on much of the album. Who’d have thought that the church organ and techno went so well together?