A British musician, also known as Radioboy, Doctor Rockit, Wishmountain, and, simply, as Herbert, who, in addition to recording stunning tracks and staging incredible live performances, wrote the Personal Contract for the Composition of Music (Incorporating the Manifesto of Mistakes), a guide to creating "original" music in the age of sampling and musical bricolage.

The best way to become familiar with Herbert's style of music is to beg, buy, borrow or steal one of his albums. Either "Let's All Make Mistakes" or "Bodily Functions" is probably the best bet. The former, a mixed album, which includes several of Herbert's own tracks as well as his remix of Moloko's "Sing it Back," mainly draws from the techier end of the house continuum. The latter album is a far more sedate and downbeat, almost loungey affair. "Bodily Functions," which features singer Dani Siciliano, is probably the work which most closely conforms to Herbert's own conception as to what form truly original music should take. Also worth checking out is the remix collection "Secondhand Sounds."

Herbert's live performances (especially those in which he performs as Radioboy) are nothing short of awe-inspiring. He's played in Montreal several times, as part of the Mutek festival, to beyond-packed houses. As a representative example of his performances, one of the highlights of his last show involved opening a soda can onstage, sampling the resulting pop-hiss sound, and working this sample into a (strangely danceable) beat. To get a rough idea of what this technique sounds like, listen to "The Audience" (the last track on "Bodily Functions"), in which Herbert records the crowd noise at a show and integrates it into the song.

What Matthew Herbert is probably best known for, at least in musical circles, is the above-mentioned Personal Contract for the Composition of Music (or PCCM). This is a set of rules which, if followed, should aid in the creation of music which is new and original, rather than a recycling of previously recorded tracks. These rules range from the straightforward (no sampling other people's music) to the technical (no resetting the mixing desk between recording different tracks) to the somewhat strange ("Samples themselves are not to be truncated from the rear"). One of the most important elements of Herbert's manifesto is his emphasis on the fact that, as humans are error-prone (to err is human, after all), truly "human" music must not only allow for but must celebrate the mistakes which arise during its creation. Herbert's music, then, stands in sharp contrast to that of a producer who relies on Antares Autotune, for example, to bring out-of-tune vocals into key. Although I'm not totally prepared to agree with the premise that all sampling of other people's work is musically invalid, Herbert's manifesto does highlight the creative dangers that lie in excessive reliance on musical technology.

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