The Herbaliser are poised to release their first album in four years -There Were Seven – through their own imprint Department H.
There Were Seven, is The Herbaliser’s seventh album of original material in the band’s seventeen-year history. It is a return to their signature sound of gigantic hip hop beats combined with atmospheric orchestral elements but with a less familiar, psychedelic, amplified edge to it.
The album is, for the most part, railing against a music industry machine that seems to churn out pop /dance/ rap robots that only speak autotune, by the day. Not descending into retro but sounding oddly futuristic in places, the recording makes the point that we can move things forward without removing human beings from the equation.
Having established a tradition of working with top-drawer vocal talents (MF Doom, Jean Grae, Roots Manuva, Rakaa Iriscience, Seaming To) the Herbs’ present a stellar line-up on this release.
First single, “The Lost Boy” places Hannah Clive’s haunting vocal amongst steely, descending guitars, eerie organ, and a whirring, oscillating, vintage Moog. Up-and-coming wordsmith, George the Poet, sets the world to rights on “A Sad State of Affairs”. “Zero Hill” features Twin Peaks in a world where making music is illegal, over a beat that sounds like it was made on an old ‘Speak and Spell’ toy. The high energy spitting flute of “Take ’em On”, the electro-funk of “Mother Dove”, the scintillating dub of “Extravagance” and Teenburger cheerfully dispatching the living dead are just a few of the highlights of this engaging record.
The overriding theme is Analog vs Digital. A dystopian future, the music industry, a computer learning to imitate the human voice, a tribute to Danny Glover, breaking rules for the sake of it, social isolation and even Zombie apocalypse are also thrown into the mix. All delivered with that mix of drama and wit that is The Herbaliser’s stock-in-trade.