Any good scholar of dance music can tell you that its history is a dialectical one — an interplay between experimental techniques and visceral immediacy, between mind-bending sonics and floor-filling functionalism — and few artists have navigated that balancing act better than Matthew Herbert. While he is best known, these days, for politically charged projects like One Pig — an investigation of sustainable agriculture and industrial agribusiness that derived all of its sounds from the life cycle of a single pig — the British musician has also been responsible for some of dance music’s most enduring classics, as well as some of the most gratifying long-players in house music (a genre not often conducive to the full-length format).
A forthcoming boxset, to be released March 4, will offer a comprehensive overview of Herbert’s avant-garde club music. Documenting Herbert’s prolific output between 1996 and 2006, Herbert Complete includes all four albums he produced in that period — 100lbs, Around the House, Bodily Functions, and Scale — along with a slew of remixes and rarities, including 27 tracks taken from early singles that have never before been available digitally. All told, the digital box set comprises 12 CDs’ worth of material.
Around the House and Bodily Functions are both essential listening for any house-music fan. Sourced, respectively, from home recordings of household objects and human bodies, they represent early high points in Herbert’s quest for sonic transubstantiation, while Dani Siciliano’s husky vocals round out some of the most emotionally compelling music of his career. Completists, meanwhile, will have a field day: Among the bonus cuts are remixes from Mr. Oizo, DJ Koze, Recloose, Nobukazu Takemura, Matmos, Motorbass, Smith N Hack, Jane’s Addiction’s Perry Farrell, and other legends of the left field. The Early Works volume includes the classic “Got to Be Movin’ (On the Dancefloor),” a filter-disco anthem that outdoes even Daft Punk; the set even unearths the long-lost “Going Round (Hmmmix),” a beatless take on one of Herbert and Siciliano’s best tracks that was included on Michael Mayer’s 1998 Neuhouse mix CD.
Listen to Perry Farrell’s remix of “Addiction,” which finds the Jane’s Addiction frontman trying his hand at clubby musique concrete. In its own understated way, it’s actually kind of shocking (or at least, shockingly tender). The full digital box set will be out on Herbert’s own Accidental Records on March 4.