'Matthew Herbert's 'One Pig' is a sonic narrative about one animal's journey from birth to death and beyond. Although leaving himself open to jokes of a porcine variety his intentions would seem to be very serious indeed. The album is a sombre affair comprising nine tracks spanning a period from August 2009 to May 2011. The sounds of the animal going about its business are integrated into dense electronic arrangements which are ambient in nature but gain in presence here and there both rhythmically and texturally.
The pig grunts and shuffles about in the midst of Mr Herbert's inventions, its sounds sometimes being taken up and repeat-looped into the fabric of the musical material. Sometimes the atmosphere is curiously lyrical, as with the gently pulsing 'November' and at others, for example, 'December', abrasively troubling. The creature's fate is certain from the outset which has upset critics and animal rights activists of a more sensitive disposition but Mr Herbert's subject matter does not appear to be deliberately provocative.
In a culture which has largely lost the connection between our comestibles and the human manipulation of their substance the work stands as a sobering educative reminder of the machinations of the twenty-first century food chain. It was T.S.Eliot, in his poem 'East Coker', who counselled us that our end is prefigured in our begining. The grotesque sounds of cooking and eating (the crunching of crackling is especially thought-provoking!) reminds us, too, of the inevitability of our own eventual demise. There but for the grace of one god or another go we! 'One Pig' is a strangely moving and engaging epitaph.
'Babe' it most certainly ain't!
Recommended (though probably not to staunch vegetarians!)