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2010/09/16
Matthew Dear

Category :  johnny (rock,ambient etc...)
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US
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last.fm Matthew Dear Biography
In the span of a few years, Texas-born, Detroit-based Matthew Dear has established himself as one of America’s foremost minimal techno producers. Dear and Ghostly International founder Sam Valenti IV met while the two were attending the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. In 1999, Dear collaborated with ghettotech pioneer Daisha on Ghostly’s inaugural 12”, “Hands Up for Detroit.” In 2001 he released “Irreparably Dented,” his debut 12” on Ghostly International’s more dancefloor-oriented Spectral Sound subsidiary. The “Stealing Moves” 12” followed in 2002. That same year, Dear signed a deal with legendary Canadian techno producer Richie Hawtin’s influential Plus 8 label, where he released three 12” singles as False. In 2003, he released the “Girlfriend” 12” on Berlin’s Perlon as Jabberjaw. Two more releases on Spectral Sound under his own name followed later that year, “EP1” and “EP2.” In late 2003, he issued his debut full-length on Spectral, “Leave Luck To Heaven,” to wide acclaim. The “Backstroke” EP followed in 2004. Dear’s 2007 full-length, “Asa Breed,” found him working with a more song-based and pop-inclined sound.

Dear has also released several works through Spectral as his dirty-minded hard-techno alter ego, Audion. The “Kisses” EP was his first release under the Audion moniker in 2004; two more EPs, 2004’s “The Pong” and 2005’s “Just Fucking” followed. Songs collected from these EPs and new material appeared on Audion’s debut full-length, “Suckfish” in October 2005. Audion produced a mix for the well-regarded FABRIC series in 2006; later that year he collaborated with Berliner Ellen Allien on a split single.

New full-length album BLACK CITY out August 17.

Matthew Dear Page here
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Pitchfork Album Review Page here
If you've followed Matthew Dear over the years, then you know he doesn't like to stay in one place for very long. Even as a primarily electronic artist in the early 2000s, Dear hopped from label to label, switched aliases often, and made everything from steely microhouse to harder Detroit techno. But his biggest departure was 2007's Asa Breed, the record where he stepped out from behind the decks and reached for the mic. Singing on tracks and leaning more heavily on song structure, he built strange hybrid music that had one foot in techno and the other in pop.

Dear's latest album, Black City, follows this path but pulls a pretty drastic shift in tone. Where Asa Breed was bubbly and squeaky and ultimately dancefloor-bound, this record is dark as night. The music brings to mind blown-out warehouses, desolate alleys, and seedy basement nightclubs; it's some real threatening, grimy shit. The production is as inventive and immersive as ever, but what separates this album from the last is that Dear mostly sticks with one theme all the way through. Asa Breed was all over the place at times, but this album has a cohesive thread to follow and smaller vignettes within it.

It's worth noting on a general level that Black City isn't always an easy listen-- there's a lot of detail that can take a couple of spins to get comfortable with. Part of this is structural. Dear doesn't really do clean electro-pop; his approach is more about pushing contrasting sounds together and leaving the edges jagged. The other part is his vocals. Dear is not a classically strong singer and can often sound pretty flat; importantly he knows how to make up for it. He uses technology to stretch his natural range, wrapping choruses around beats in creative ways and sometimes layering multiple vocals together to create depth.

So the album has a lot of contrast and textural nuance. There's also a good amount of sex. In the first half, Dear explores this really nocturnal, salacious sound. Songs in this section are either slow-paced come-ons or faster club tracks, but they all ooze attitude and lust. Opener "Honey" is a good example of the former, kind of a sauntering R&B number with a gritty noise instrumental at its core. But one song stands out: "You Put a Smell on Me" is just total industrial-dance smut, with Dear soliciting an indecent ride "in [his] big black car." Mechanical synths grind, beats scrape against the wall, and Dear offers up double entendre: "You decide if you want to come." It might just be the raunchiest-sounding track since NIN's "Closer".

Dear gets that there's no point in going any dirtier after this, and he uses the rest of the album to divert the vibe towards something brighter. It's a move that threatens the overall theme, but it ultimately works in maintaining the idea of deep contrast and dark vs. light. So the back-end is more pastoral sounding-- beats don't grind as hard and vocals open up, feel more skyward. Rather than the dark disco earlier on, songs in this portion hew closer toward Eno/Talking Heads ambient pop, and there's some really beautiful stuff here. "Gem", the closer, is one of the album's best. A big, opulent track about loss and regret, it's both deeply sad and optimistic at the same time. And the album needs a big emotional anchor like this, otherwise you might feel a little filthy for enjoying it so much.


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