Matthew Dear

MDBC Totem


1: a) an object serving as the emblem of a family or clan and often as a remainder of its ancestry; also: a usually carved or painted representation of such an object… b) a family or clan identified by a common totemic object.
2: one that serves as an emblem or revered symbol

Matthew Dear’s third full-length studio album called for something exceptional, something as challenging (and rewarding) as the music itself. Our newest label release format is more than a mere limited edition. The totem is a proposal, an entreaty to listeners everywhere to reconsider our relationship to music in the digital era.

To create Ghostly’s first totem, we turned to renowned product designers Constantin and Laurene Boym of Boym Partners in New York, recipients of the 2009 National Design Award for Product Design. The Boyms have a history of exploring uncharted territory in design, along with an uncanny ability to imbue the smallest object with cultural resonance.

The MDBC Totem is both a sculptural representation of the themes explored in Black City and a symbolic conduit to the music itself. Vaguely reminiscent of one of the soot-blackened skyscrapers that might populate Dear’s creeping, nameless city, the stacks upon the totem also call to mind the many shaped prongs of a universal power adaptor. In this sense, the totem is not simply a miniature building, but an abstract key to an unknown door. The branding of the totem has been purposefully reduced to its bare essentials only the letters MDBC and unique four-digit suffixes are included so that the totem’s meaning remains discernible only to its beholder.

Each MDBC Totem is inscribed with a unique four-character suffix that will allow users access a private page on, where Black City may be streamed in its entirety from any web-accessed computer, or downloaded. Owners of the totem will also receive an exclusive track, not previously available on the standard album release. Unlike current delivery methods, the totem is a physical format for cloud-based listening, an acknowledgment of two seemingly irreconcilable notions: the need for a tangible representation of music and a future in which music utterly ethereal.

About Matthew Dear

Depending 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 So...check out Matthew Dear's page and other releases

  • Ghostly International
  • GI-120X
  • formats:
  • Totem
  • release date:
  • August 3, 2010
  • Get This Release


  • Matthew Dear - MDBC Totem

    A short piece on how the limited edition art pieces for the new Matthew Dear album Black City were made by artisan sculptors.