MATTHEW HERBERT with RIC Y MARTIN, PAN CON QUESO and DJs ZUZANA GRIMM and MINDBENDER at Kajmere (393 King West), Friday (June 1). $19. 416-703-8092. Rating: NNNNN
Unless you're talking about punks like the Nation of Ulysses, manifestos are rare in pop music these days.It's a measure of how seriously London electronic producer/composer Matthew Herbert takes his work that he operates within strict guidelines. Herbert's Personal Contract For The Composition Of Music -- explained in full at www.matthewherbert.com/Manifesto/Manifestoindex.html -- forbids drum machines and the sampling of other peoples' music, among other things.
The result of Herbert's Dogme-like rule book is that the classically trained musician has become one of the few electronic producers who write songs rather than just make beats. Some of that initiative is due to his background (as a kid, Herbert played in a big jazz band) and other elements come from his current side work making music for films.
Regardless, Herbert's new Bodily Functions disc is a landmark electroacoustic disc. The warm, jazzy record mixes live instrumentation, studio trickery and the soulful vocals of crooner Dani Siciliano, making what Herbert himself calls "music that doesn't quite fit."
It's ostensibly a house record, but the beats are so elliptical that dancing can't really extend beyond the occasional tapping of a toe.
Herbert is currently touring with Siciliano and a piano player, but short of bringing a full jazz band to town, it's hard to imagine how he will pull off Bodily Functions live. Surprises await.