Matthew Herbert has announced details of an extraordinary new solo project inspired by the human body.
The nude has been a primary form of expression for visual art for centuries. However there has never been a musical nude in its purest form.
For The Nude (The Perfect Body), Matthew Herbert has recorded the sounds of a naked body in a room for 24 hours. During that time, the body does everything that humans do: it eats, sleeps, washes, wees, trims, wanks, moves, poos and so on. These recordings of the body have been condensed and organised into a work in eight parts:
Each of these musical pieces are poses – distillations or meditations where the body itself is the soloist and Herbert the frame and canvas. They range in length from several minutes to an hour long.
These pieces make up A Nude (The Perfect Body) – a Fantastic Voyage in sound. The album is subtitled The Perfect Body since we have no idea to whom the body belongs or what this body looks like. We don’t know if it’s ugly or beautiful in the traditional, visual sense; we don’t know its race; we don’t know if it has all its limbs; we don’t know what shape it is; we don’t know how old it is; and at times what gender it is.
Whilst all of the activities captured by the microphone for A Nude are our daily occurrences – noises we are all familiar with, to our modern ears, hearing someone else use the bathroom is still a deeply transgressive sound. In an age when the body is once again centre stage, from the movement of bodies across borders to an epidemic of obesity it is curious how silent we really are to each other. Never anything less than deeply strange, totally immersive, consciously voyeuristic and utterly captivating, this collection is a sonic mirror reflecting back at all of us. This is what we sound like when someone is listening.
First developed as part of process at metal in Liverpool in December 2015, A Nude is an entirely wordless work – a challenging and provocative listen that requires an 18 certificate – a first for an instrumental piece. The album is the latest instalment in Matthew Herbert’s exemplary and innovative work exploring sound. To a list of sounds used in previous work (that includes pigs, bombs exploding, tanks, sewers, chicken farms, apple pies, Nazi handguns, coffins, easyJet flights, toilet paper, a newborn baby, recordings in Manhattan on 9/11, a whole city in Poland, a newspaper, a nightclub, a Liverpudlian beach, a meteorite, a mouse trapped in a wastepaper basket and an aubergine) we can now add the sounds of an orgasm.
A Nude (The Perfect Body) will be presented as an album and will be exhibited in the future within a gallery.