Record Review - 4 July 31 2003

DJ/Composer/part-time Björk collaborator Matthew Herbert's new big-band CD stands out even in the wide-wide world of new eclectic electronica. He's not the first person to incorporate cinematic, jazzy soundtrack material into electronic soundscapes and rhythms — Ninja Tune artists such as Neotropic, Journeyman, Cinematic Orchestra, and others have done it for years. But on Goodbye Swingtime, Herbert's approach to micromanipulation complements an actual 21-piece big band in a manner never quite heard before, taking a cue from Karlheinz Stockhausen's more orchestral works. Not only does Swingtime grow on the listener, it seems to grow itself, sprouting new sounds and effects with each play. Alien thuds become more defined, incidentally emerging from the shadows and aligning themselves with distant whining saxophones; quick splice edits gradually reveal elements of Carl Stalling's most demented cartoon music.

The CD opens with the relatively electronic-free "Turning Pages," a beautiful breezy number reminiscent of French new-wave film soundtracks (think Goddard's A Bout De Souffle). But by the time the third song rolls around, programmed rhythms subtly work their way into the mix, taking Swingtime on a journey into the uncertain realm of electro-acoustic jazz experimentation. Herbert and crew, including vocalists such as Super- collider's Jamie Lidell, Dani Siciliano and Arto Lindsay, take a lot of risks, most of which pay off, making Goodbye Swingtime one of the year's most satisfying releases, definitely worth tracking down.