Release Date: Aug 28, 2012
Record label: Ghostly International
Genre(s): Electronic, Club/Dance
Matthew Dear’s CV certainly doesn’t give the impression of a shrinking violet. On the contrary, he is well regarded as a talented producer and multi-instrumentalist, not to mention co-founder of pioneering, independent record label Ghostly International, home to a number of other high-profile electronic artists, such as Gold Panda and School Of Seven Bells. As a solo artist, Dear remains somewhat of an enigma, with much of his work up until now, overshadowed by a heavy debt owed to his electro art-pop forebears.
The British television network Channel 4 came up with an idea the other day, a tribute to clubbing, a six hour non-stop broadcast of “some of the best DJs from around the world”. A surreal experience doesn’t do it justice; Grandmaster Flash in a massive empty room sweating over a laptop and turntables while a man in the background wears a gas mask and presses buttons and a woman just stands there, nodding her head a bit. Then there’s the odd trippy (that’s just another word for shitty colours flying around the screen) visual.
Matthew Dear owned the night on 2010’s Black City and earlier this year with his Headcage EP. The techno-house artist slices through some of the carnal grime and aural murk of earlier releases with fourth LP, Beams. It’s an incandescent release that places a heavy emphasis on subterranean bass, as emphasized by the celestial surf-punk jam “Earthforms” or the manic electro slinker “Overtime.” Recorded at Dear’s home studio, that very DIY spirit oozes into its earworm-y arrangements.
After making his name as one of the Midwest's foremost sonic auteurs at microhouse's peak, Matthew Dear's spent the last five years or so reshaping himself into a producer whose electronic-based music pitches toward America's past-rock glories as much as global dance music climes. Beginning with Asa Breed but perhaps peaking with the Brian Eno and Talking Heads indebted tech-pop of 2010's excellent Black City, Dear has continued to navigate the poppier ends of the electronic music spectrum in a fleet-footed manner that kept us guessing where he'd be two years down the line. Now with Beams, Dear's fifth full-length, he's continuing to navigate the broad crossover between the two realms, and for the first time in a while, in a manner that could actually serve as a companion piece to earlier work.
On Beams, basslines that switch between prowling post-punk and slithering funk, along with slash-and-prickle guitars and bounding drums, inch Matthew Dear closer to his late-'70s/early-'80s inspirations. Dear's vocals are at their most expressive, imposing, and sinister. If kept to an inaudible volume, they could be used in a slasher flick as the mutterings of an obscene phone caller.
Matthew DearBeams[Ghostly; 2012]By Josh Becker; August 31, 2012Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOGTweetThere's long been a paucity of male American synthpop artists. I'm talking about the kind of techno-indebted electropop proffered by the likes of Cut Copy and Miami Horror (Australia), Hot Chip, Grum, and the Pet Shop Boys (UK), John Talabot (Spain), Matias Aguayo (Argentina), and Tesla Boy (Russia), just to name a few. Sure, we've got a couple big names stateside — I'm thinking of Nicolas Jaar and Dan Deacon especially — but it's still easy to feel like the US is simply behind the curve when it comes to synthpop sung by men.
I cannot tell if the man-woman hollering in “Her Fantasy” says “compliments,” “confidence” or “coffee beans,” but I’m really rooting for the latter as they are the sole source of my energy to write this. I listened to Beams, the sixth full-length release from Matthew Dear, probably a dozen times‚ usually while splayed on my sweaty couch with my roommates and always while hopped on nicotine. Today I tried an alternative approach, loading the record onto my busted iPhone and setting up camp in a climate-controlled coffeeshop.
Matthew Dear is an illusionist. Each successive release under the Detroit producer's own name has seen him reveal more of himself as he simultaneously retreats deeper into the shadows. As his singing voice continues to take a front-and-center position in his slithery electronic pop productions, it's also acquired a dark and oily air of decadence. Beams, his fifth solo full-length under his own name, is said by its maker to be more "positive" in disposition than 2010's high-water mark Black City.
After years of working under aliases, New York-based producer/crooner Matthew Dear has been using his Christian name steadily since 2009. Unlike the harder-edged electronica of Audion or the minimalist house of Jabberjaw and False, the Dear persona has evolved beyond mere dance music, mixing pop and rock archetypes with a steady avant-garde bent, resulting in a sound that’s as unpredictable as it is familiar. On Beams, his fifth album under his birth name, Dear undertakes the most impressive and important growth spurt of all: mixing high art with deeply personal revelations, finding a way to express a more unified self after years of playing career hopscotch.
Hand on heart, I don't really know how I feel about Matthew Dear's latest album Beams yet. After a dozen or so plays now, there are days when I fear that Dear has started to outstay his welcome. The insistent and addictive monotony that tied much of Black City and Asa Breed together is here extrapolated to a point where the record seems sparse, at times a husk of his previous work and - more scathingly - the genres he is borrowing from.
Through 10 years, three recording aliases, and four proper full-lengths, Matthew Dear remains a cipher by design. From the early stanchions of microhouse and late-wave Detroit density to Beams’ alt-pop workouts, twixt the giddily toothsome 80s funk workout of his 2003 breakout single “Dog Days,” to “Her Fantasy’s” coying pleas for connection among the club’s anonymous masses — it’s difficult to apprehend who Dear wishes to be as a performer, what he’d like us to see and hear, and how the extant psychic remainder should make us move or feel. The chromatose disfigurations of Beams cover portrait (and the somewhat tortuously arty video of its creation) suggest at best an electronic producer continuing a full-bore effort of self-creation as a recording pop Personality.
MATTHEW DEAR DJs the WKD Beach Party Saturday (August 25) at Sugar Beach. See listing. Rating: NNN Matthew Dear is among the very small handful of musicians who've been able to successfully straddle the techno and pop worlds. Beams, his fourth full-length, finds Dear moving further to the pop side, but in a gloomy mood.
New York City based musician, DJ, producer and all round electronic auteur Matthew Dear has been making mind-blowing inventive dance music for over a decade. 2010’s ‘Black City’ album was something of a breakthrough for Dear after years of underground critical success and it saw him moving further into the realms of all round songwriter rather than mere producer. His fourth album ‘Beams’ takes those excursions into more overt song craft to a whole new level; it’s avant pop music at its very finest and positively bubbling over with copious ideas and ambition.The key to Dear’s success is his dexterity when it comes to sound and dynamics.
Dear’s excellent fifth album delivers a bigger, more accessible sound. Garry Mulholland 2012 Arguably the least Texan-sounding Texan recording artist in musical history, Matthew Dear makes intelligent, almost lugubrious electronic art-pop. Influenced by his college days in Michigan and Detroit’s position as the birthplace of techno, Dear initially had more impact as dance act Audion than as the maker of two largely ignored albums back in 2003 and 2004.
Beams is the fifth album proper released under Matthew Dear's name and is also his least electronic-sounding record to date. Over the course of almost a decade, the Texas-born, Detroit-raised Dear has been pushing the envelope with his pop meets techno sound, but on this album the Ghostly mainstay has reached more into live instrumentation, sampling drums and employing a more typical rock palette. The end result sounds like a more electronic Beck, but still with those breathy, Bryan Ferry-like affectations and the swagger we've come to expect.