Bodily Functions

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Since Bodily Functions is the first Herbert production album available in wide release (distributed in America through !K7), it shouldn't be surprising that the soundman/producer extraordinaire hones and refines ideas he'd been working with for several years instead of introducing a new direction. Bodily Functions is very similar to his Around the House LP from 1998 (many of the tracks were first worked on as early as 1996), the unifying theme here being relations between human beings instead of their relations to their home environment. Though many of the samples here are culled from the anatomy, listeners still reeling from the recent surgery-sampling Matmos LP will be happy to find that, except for the first track (a meditation on newborns featuring various gurglings and cries), there aren't many identifiable bodily functions in the mix -- though a quick glance at the booklet credits will convince listeners otherwise, it's easy to assume Herbert simply has a few freaky new drum machines producing all those odd effects. Many tracks were recorded according to the details of his Personal Contract for the Composition of Music (PCCOM), a set of production rules preventing him from overly leaning on the crutches of modern technology. Therefore, no samples other than those he's recorded himself, no simple preset synthesizer effects, and a reliance on traditional, played instruments instead of their close electronic equivalents. Despite all the science and dry theorizing, Bodily Functions is a very warm record, seemingly unencumbered by the concepts behind the music or its production. It's basically Herbert heading a postmodern lounge act, with a parade of friendly musicians -- and his own electric piano -- placed under the calming, languorous vocals of Dani Siciliano. Though it veers from earthy jazz pieces ("I Know") to clicky tech-house numbers ("Leave Me Now") with barely a pause at all, Bodily Functions hangs together much better than any previous Herbert album. It's the perfect marriage of art and intelligence.

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