August 2005


Matthew Herbert's latest CD Plat du Jour is a musical take on the politics of pleasure.

Confused? Well, this a wacky, witty project which features 3,255 people biting into apples (as in the Batman TV show, they may have said "Crrrruunchhh"); Herbert driving a Chieftain tank over a re-creation of a meal Nigella Lawson cooked for Bush and Blair; a track which features the sound of a London sewer (I wonder how many hours it took down a manhole with an microphone to capture the right resonance); a collaboration with the chef of the moment Heston Blumenthal, whose signature dishes at the Fat Duck in Bray include snail ice cream; and believe it or not one track has 80,000 cheeping chicks!

The album was premiered in Paris and Istanbul, with the goal both in his live show and CD, that the music should both inform and entertain.

Herbert is a musician/producer who works in the field of electronic music, and seems to have no boundaries. Making music from bottles and jars (no drum machines allowed) composed music for fashion shows.

He has released more than ten albums of self-written, produced and performed music recorded under aliases such as Doctor Rockit, Wishmount Vertigo and Transformer. He's also contributed to albums by Bjork and remixed REM, Serge Gainsbourg and Yoko Ono.

In a world where there is so much bland and unoriginal music, it is marvellous to have this musical maverick. I'll have a second helping please. (Gives details of research, plus many other surprising facts. A must to look up).

Plat du Jour is out on Accidental Records


The catastrophic bombs last month in London, seemed to be a turning point to how national disasters are covered by the media. We have witnessed the emergence of the amateur journalist, and the term "Citizen Reporter".

New media tools – G3 phones, email and weblogs - meant instant, potent, extraordinary images of the shocking scenes were recorded in grainy out-of-synch video-phone clips and still-pictures. Observant, media-savvy members of the public caught up in the terror whose first instinct was to capture these momentous images and send them around the globe, are the new Citizen Reporters who passed their material on to broadcasters around the globe (and the Metropolitan Police).

The first-hand coverage and information was shown on television even before the professional TV News crews had arrived on the scene to record the aftermath. This gave the digital rolling 24-hour news channels - BBC, ITN and Sky News - pictures within the first hour (some of which must have been to appalling to put on TV).

The pressure on BBC editors in particular in these post-Hutton times, is to get the breaking news out quickly and spot-on to a colossal audience, presenting all sorts of dilemmas while having to make snap decisions on the veracity of subsequent reports, sifting hearsay and unconfirmed information.

Specifically for the BBC, whose viewers normally tune in in times of major news stories (in fact the audience for the early evening News on BBC1 on 7/7 was nearly 7 million, double it's average). And this was the first major news story since the editorial guideline mantra "accuracy is more important than speed" was rolled out. And the ordinary London Citizen Reporter had a direct effect on its output!

The Citizen Reporter has brought about a transformation in this newsgathering media relationship. We saw this on Boxing Day with the tsunami, seeing wobbly images of the event taken by holidaymakers wishing to record the big wave for their friends back home on their video cameras, unaware of the extreme danger they were in.

But the 7/7 bomb strikes came completely out of the blue, no warning, the shocked passengers would have had consciously or instinctively, in those extreme conditions, searched pockets or ransacked bags in a panic for their 3G mobiles.

I feel this displays an exact awareness of the 24/7 news societies that we live in; a swap of speedy DIY information and the Citizen Reporter has formed a fully-fledged partnership with the media.

I look forward to future bulletins on happier events.

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