epending on whom you ask, Matthew Dear is a DJ, a dance-music producer, an experimental pop artist, a bandleader. He co-founded both Ghostly International and its dancefloor offshoot, Spectral Sound. He’s had remixes commissioned by The XX, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Spoon, Hot Chip, The Postal Service, and Chemical Brothers; he’s made mixes for Get Physical’s Body Language and Fabric mix series. He maintains four aliases (Audion, False, Jabberjaw, and Matthew Dear), each with its own style and distinct visual identity. He straddles multiple musical worlds and belongs to none—and he’s just hitting his stride.
Matthew Dear’s 2003 full-length debut,Leave Luck to Heaven, is a suite of sparse, wickedly funky house laced with Dear’s deep, distinctive vocals, and includes the much-loved single “Dog Days” (voted one of Pitchfork’s Top 100 Songs of the Decade). The record was met with rapturous acclaim from both the dance-music establishment and the critical press, including a four-star review in Rolling Stone. The 2007 follow-up, Asa Breed, is a considerable departure from Heaven’s dancefloor excursions, incorporating the polyrhythms of Afrobeat, the irreverent pop sensibilities of Brian Eno, and the austere beauty of Krautrock. More four-stars reviews followed, and Dear subsequently began touring with a live three-piece band,
Matthew Dear’s Big Hands, in which Dear acted as frontman, commanding the stage with a Bryan Ferry-like swagger and a gentleman’s grace.
2010 saw the release of Dear’s watershed third album, Black City, a darkly playful sound-world that envelops the listener like the arms of a malevolent lover. Black City was met with near-unanimous critical praise, earning top marks from Mojo, Uncut, Q, URB, and the Village Voice, ending up on countless year-end lists, and earning Pitchfork’s coveted Best New Music nod. A worldwide tour followed, in which Dear and a newly expanded band continued to hone their live chops with vicious focus.
Matthew Dear’s latest full-length, 2012’s Beams, is both a drastic departure from and worthy successor to Black City’s gothic masterwork. A suite of weird, wild, and queasily optimistic rhythm-driven pop songs, Beams is the latest chapter in the continuing evolution of one of music’s most fascinating minds. After over a decade of exploring pop’s outer limits, Matthew Dear now inhabits a rarified corner of the musical universe: no longer tethered to any one genre, respected by his peers, and blessed with a bottomless well of creative energy. Now is Matthew Dear’s moment, and it sounds like nothing else.
A short piece on how the limited edition art pieces for the new Matthew Dear album Black City were made by artisan sculptors.
by Morgan Beringer