Joshua Brooks continued their stunning hot streak of bookings this year by bringing a true genius to their basement. Famed predominantly as a producer, Matthew Herbert has been consistently pushing the boundaries of electronic music with his experimentalist style for nearly two decades. The reasonably small but reverent crowd assembled – “Matthew Herbert at Joshua Brooks! I can’t believe it!” I overhear – perhaps shows he’s a figure who doesn’t procure wide appeal, but all those who appreciate him do so deeply.
Performing a DJ set tonight, I was excited to see whether his selection skills matched up to his production prowess. I was also slightly wary: with my only reference point of a Herbert DJ set being his Boiler Room in the British Library Sound Archive in which he used five million unique recordings of things as varied as woodworms to world war bombers. Not exactly club ready.
As it turned out, Herbert reigned in his experimentalist tendencies and span a very dancefloor focused set of house and techno. Drawing from his experience in these genres he pulled out classics such as ‘Erotic Discourse’ and ‘Feel My MF Bass’ – the latter establishing a theme of motherfucking in the set following the airing of Mike Dunn’s ‘Phreaky MF’.
His mixing was by no means flawless, but his selection was on point. DHS’s ‘House Of God’ drew a strong reaction, and closing on NY Stomp’s remix of ‘Child’ was an enjoyable surprise. Enough time had passed for the once overplayed song but undeniable anthem to round the set off in an unexpected and effective fashion.