Matthew Herbert has announced a new album, The Horse, which will be out May 26 via Modern Recordings. The album features Shabaka Hutchings, Theon Cross, Evan Parker, Wayne Shorter collaborator Danilo Pérez, Polar Bear’s Seb Rochford, Kokoroko’s Edward Wakili-Hick, and the London Contemporary Orchestra. Also: a horse skeleton, as the title of the album is quite literal. From the press release:

The project started with a search for the largest possible animal skeleton to explore sonically. More than a raw sound source, the horse skeleton Herbert acquired soon revealed different angles of inspiration. One of the major narrative arcs through the album is its representation of the evolution of human music itself, opening in a compelling, primitive flurry of custom-made flutes from the horse’s thigh bones and bows crafted from ribs and horse hair. By the mid-section you can hear a ritualistic twang of raw string (from a gut string stretched over the pelvis) give way to sustained compositional suites before a crescendo of fierce electronic-acoustic fusion, as grandiose as it is propulsive. The musical range covered on the album speaks to Herbert’s extensive experience across electronic, contemporary classical and jazz - a daring and constantly compelling collection of compositions.

Equally, the subject of the horse itself and its significance in human history became a vital focus for the music. Material came from myriad sources, including site specific work such as recording reverb impulses in front of ancient cave paintings of horses in Northern Spain and capturing sound at the corner of Epsom race course where women’s suffrage activist Emily Davison was trampled by King George V’s racehorse in 1913. Over 6900 horse sounds were taken from the internet, horse skin drums were found and played and a shaker was even fashioned from a mixture of cement and polo horse semen. Instrument makers such as Sam Underwood, Graham Dunning, Henry Dagg and Lee Patterson were commissioned to approach parts of the skeleton in different ways, some creating mechanical percussive instruments and carving out the aforementioned bone flutes, others blowing tiny air bubbles through the neck vertebrae.

You can listen to "The Horse Has a Voice" featuring Theon Cross below.

Matthew also has UK and European live dates lined up for later in the year, and those are listed below.


attachment-matthew herbert the horse

The Horse:
1- The Horse’s Bones Are In A Cave
2 - The Horse’s Hair And Skin Are Stretched
3 - The Horses Bones Are Flutes
4 - The Horse’s Pelvis Is A Lyre
5 - The Horse Is Prepared
6 - The Horse Is Quiet
7- The Horse Is Submerged
8 - The Horse Is Put To Work
9 - The Rider (Not The Horse)
10 - The Truck That Follows The Horses
11 - The Horse’s Winnings
12 - The Horse Has A Voice
13 - The Horse Remembers
14 - The Horse Is Close
15 - The Horse Is Here

Matthew Herbert - 2023 Tour dates:
18th August - Edinburgh
14th October – London, The Barbican
16th October – Hamburg, Elbphilharmonie
18th October – Berlin, Theater Des Westens

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