Working with musicians is nothing new for the Herbaliser production duo of Ollie Teeba and Jake Wherry, who've been performing their hiphop-inspired sonic constructions in a band set-up since 96. But their recent Something Wicked This Way Comes (Ninja Tune) is really the first time they've managed to combine the best aspects of a sample-oriented approach with live musicians in the studio. Elements of hiphop are still involved -- underscored by the upfront presence of rappers MF Doom, Blade, Phi Life Cypher and Dilated Peoples' Rakka Iriscience -- yet there's no mistaking the Herbaliser for a hokey Jazzmatazz fusion where guest soloists drop in to toot their bit.
Teeba and Wherry have seamlessly woven together the component sounds with dialogue clips in a way that hangs together much like a film soundtrack.
"After seeing how well the live recording went with Session One, we wanted to try to find a middle ground between what we'd been doing with sampling and playing everything live," says Teeba from his studio in London, England.
"In the past we'd do bits and pieces of recording, but we could never get things to sound as lovely as the 60s and 70s records we were sampling on the equipment we had. So, sonically speaking, things wouldn't mix well.
"But the technical quality of our studio gear improved, and I can say we're 100 per cent happy with the results."
The Herbaliser have progressed to the point where Teeba and Wherry are planning on taking the big leap -- film soundtracks. Not content with their track The Sensuous Woman being used in Guy Ritchie's Snatched and various alco-pop commercial spots, they intend to follow their inspirations Quincy Jones and Lalo Schifrin into the world of cinema.
"We're talking to someone about doing the soundtrack to a feature film -- a horror/thriller type of thing -- that's being made at the moment, but we haven't done any of the business yet.
"Working on film soundtracks means you don't have to go out and do long tours. I mean, we love playing shows -- especially in Canada -- but there will come a time when we're old and decrepit and we'll need to do something a bit less strenuous.
"If we can do stuff for TV, movies, ads, whatever, we're down with it. We just want to keep making music."
THE HERBALISER with DJ Serious performing as part of the JVC JAZZ FESTIVAl at Harbourfront Centre's Concert Stage (235 Queen's Quay West), Wednesday (June 19), 8 pm. Free. 416-973-3000.