Birmingham, UK and deep within this ever growing city resides an ever growing talent. Already being compared to the genius of William Basinski, Chris Herbert’s low-fi soundscape electronica finds its debut on the album Mezzotint, a debut sure to hit the right spot for those who either love the style or understand the atmosphere. For while most urban music is recognized as grimy and rude (a la Dizzy Rascal or Lady Sovereign) Herbert brings and alternative urban, an electronica urban that captures a city’s darkest moments earnestly.
Take the opening track, "Stab City" a name vitriolic of its own accord but mixed with the brooding chimes and haunting noises and the ruthlessness of city life becomes an orchestra of sound albeit an unnerving one.
Moving away slightly from the harshness of urban dwelling "Elisa" takes on a futuristic sound, characteristic via glitches and beeps that dissect a repetitive harmonious noise, sounding like one is listening to a strange xenomorphic instrument underwater.
Like the sound you might get from musically tuning the electric buzz under pylons
"Chlorophyll" takes form as a distant and lingering piece of electronica composition, repetitive to the point of hallucinogenic. Herbert not only captures the beauty of noise but also the genuine repetitive nature of the urban existence. If you want to reflect on why you get up each day at seven, go to work at nine then come to home at six only to sleep then this track is for you.
While a complete contradiction of terms, Mezzotint manages to be both soothing and unnerving simultaneously, most notably on the track "Horse Latitudes" where soundscape increases and falls and glitches peak in the background, altogether confusing the senses as to what to feel, to kick back or to be on edge, to escape its brooding atmosphere or to yield to the blanket of sound it provides, blocking all else out of your senses.
"Cassino" is perhaps the purest of elements within the Mezzotint compound, its sound feeling much less ambiguous in nature but rather serene instead though still with its dreamlike quality firmly in place. A wonderful sister track to the awe inspiring emotive sounds of "Lets Get Boring", a beautiful yet desolate sound that would not be misplaced in an orchestral score, its overwhelming feeling something that doesn’t leave you anytime soon.
While many will compare Herbert to the likes of Basinski (perhaps many already have) and while this comparison is in no way a bad thing, look closer to the Mezzotint that Herbert has created and you will find sound that deserves more then a mere labeling, but something that in its own way exceeds those already established in the medium, bringing emotion and depth into what sometimes can be a hollow journey.
Perhaps most importantly Mezzotint secures Herbert’s debut as a place for reflection and meditation, be it on the darkest corners of existence with "Stab City" or on its more serene side with "Cassino" and with such high tech distractions in the world today, to get people to sit back and think is no small task.