Quick Review: Matthew Herbert – One Pig Project

I was listening to Jarvis Cocker do a radio show on a Sunday a while back and he played a piece by a man named Matthew Herbert. It felt like the countryside he said ‘without it being about sweeping string pieces’. How could this be? This is not possible. Jarvis you nut. However, he was tooting sense.

‘One Pig’ is the final part of a trilogy of work by Matthew Herbert: experimentalist, jazz musician, electronic, sampler, inventor of pig instruments?!

The concept ‘One Pig’ is based around sounds of the life of one particular pig from birth to slaughter. It is has caused controversy (including via the ever so informed and rational PETA) and has intrigued many. Here is a quick review of the best moments.

On opening track you hear the mechanics of a farm as well as sounds and snorts of a pig, it starts off serene as slowly a tenori on (I believe, or something that sounds similar) pins underneath the track. All of a sudden out of nowhere a gargantuan snort overloads the entire track. This is a pig in labour.

October begins with the snorting once again from the mother pig with the piglets in the background. It revolves into an ambient melody of luscious unfurling exhilarating piece. It is one of the best slivers of the album.

Skipping forward a little to December. A rhythm mechanical track that I believe uses parts of a pig as percussion. Atmospherically lifting, with transcending moments of breathlessness. January takes a little from Nine Inch Nails work, at times.

February is a little haunting at first as you can hear faint sounds of knives being sharpened and then the chewing of drooping food. It is extremely well recorded, possibly binaural. It features motion in the track, stereo galore. If you like to feel apart of the action then put this track on either with great speakers or a pair of headphones. It gets a bit noisy though, bare in mind.

The concluding moment of the album ‘May 2011’ is a somber and teary eyed moment. It contrasts with the rest of the album and acts like a little obituary to the life of a single animal. It features just ambient noises underneath a guitar and vocals. One of the highlight moments on the album, genuinely beautiful and blissful in a very peculiar way.

As a collection, at times it is a little awkward but generally it is worth a listen. Those are some of the key moments anyway. Is it pretentious? Surprisingly not. The concept surely sounds like a parody of a prog band however it truly works at times. Jarvis Cocker was perfectly right by saying it pictures the countryside. A little messy and obviously experimental at times but conceptually interesting with two stand out tracks. Great for musicians and those seeking for extraordinary sounds, not so great for a casual musical listener.


You can listen to it below thanks to Matthew Herbert’s Bandcamp profile:

There is an interesting article on Herbert’s site between himself and PETA’s German Editor in Chief:  http://www.matthewherbert.com/news/2011/11/3/matthew-herbert-vs-peta.html

(To Matthew, I enjoyed this quite a bit, it is just hard to grasp straight away and there are certain sections I really admire. Just in case you read this article I thought I’d leave a note at the bottom. Thanks.)