Radio Boy

The Mechanics of Destruction

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Dance music has never been the best place to find a meaningful message. Even considering the music's black gay disco roots, it always sought to be either an escape device or at best a medium of academic audio pursuit. It is rarely a platform for overt political discussion. Matthew Herbert's social consciousness has always been a major part of his persona, but it has gone no further than a reading list in his liner notes or edited down to a soundbite in an interview. With this release, Herbert brings his anti-corporate agenda into the music, and the results are mixed. Mechanics of Destruction is composed completely out of samples made from products that are commonly known to be detrimental, whether to the environment or global socioeconomic conditions. That means Herbert takes mundane items, like a newspaper on "Rupert Murdoch" or a pair of boxer shorts on "The Gap," and converts them into aggressive symphonies of dissonance. Furthermore, the CD is available for free, but only from Herbert's website, where his combative message takes on written form. Far more than a musician who thinks he can save the world, Herbert is clearly intent on spreading information before collecting profit. Unfortunately, that doesn't mean it always translates into good music. "McDonalds" turns a value meal into an astounding punch that throttles the listener, similar to Radio Boy's earlier "Radio" track. However, the music soon dissolves into Herbert's trademark "little tramp" jazz shuffle. But unlike the more house-like output that made him an artist to watch, there is nothing sweet or catchy to be found here. Perhaps it would have been more effective for Herbert to take the objects of his disdain and convert them into music of grace and beauty, something he has proven exceptionally gifted at time and time again. It certainly would have made the record more palatable, in turn opening it up for a wider audience to receive his message. But given the strength of Herbert's beliefs, he obviously felt the artistic urge to create music as difficult as the issues he is confronting.

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