First coming to prominence in pre-millennial micro-house circles, Matthew Dear has spent the last decade blurring the lines between techno and pop.
Under the monikers of False, Audion and to a lesser extent JabberJaw, the Texan-born producer has pursued uncompromising soundscapes, while the releases under his own name has become increasingly song orientated.
Now, operating within a newly assembled five-piece band, comes the understated American’s fourth album. Recorded in his home studio in New York, ‘Beams’ aims to represent a far brighter creation than 2010’s melancholic ‘Black City’, apparently owing to a period of “positive change” within Dear’s life. This uplift in mood is evident straight away, the single ‘Her Fantasy’ opening the album in an exhilarating wash of percussive hand-claps, rasping whistles and Dear’s sonorous riddles.
Shifting gears, ‘Earthforms’ seamlessly continues this momentum but suspends the carnival flair in favour of a kinetic guitar swagger reminiscent of Joy Division’s early output. Drawing further yesteryear comparisons, the deadpan yet sensuous lyrics of ‘Headcage’ and ‘Up & Out’ nod to the sardonic quips of Talking Heads’ David Byrne, whilst instrumentally and rhythmically ‘Fighting Is Futile’, ‘Overtime’ and the rushing closer ‘Temptation’ recall the looping character of the Texan’s past exploits as Audion.
Whereas Dear’s last two albums contained immediate anthems, there is, arguably, no single defining moment within this colourful and fluid offering. Instead, ‘Beams’ represents a cerebral and well-balanced opus that could well represent a peerless innovator at the absolute pinnacle of his legacy.
File under Avant pop
Download ‘Her Fantasy’, ‘Up & Out’, ‘Temptation’
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