It’s my belief that Matthew Dear is truly the electronic trouvère of this generation. Beams, from the Ghostly label he helped establish, isn’t due until the 27th of August. But “Her Fantasy” is enough to make you prick an ear up. His rough-velvet voice surfing a thickly-layered electronic groove, the track channels Brian Eno’s collaborations with David Byrne, from the calculated electronic ostinati to the self-aware, quirky, hyperreal-punk poetry and vocal style. But Dear takes it all around the next bend: those rhythms, informed by his time on the dancefloor, are more unapologetic, and his voice, doubled-up and dense, takes on new, seductive authority.
It’s all so good, all so perfectly-calculated, that it can slip into monochrome: this is a track on one level, musically, with additions and substractions still sounding like an endless loop. So, I hope we see some new diversity in Beams, as that would clearly establish the songwriting and production diversity on the level of the technical and musical technique that’s all so well-proven.
“Crimewaves” is another good sign. Dear almost seems to go from recalling Byrne to bringing a little old-school Thomas Dolby influence, with clipped electronic brass stabs and fresh, sing-song, unexpected refrains of lyric and tune reminding me of some of Dolby’s best early work, if unmistakably dripping with Dear’s own musical soup. That DNA cross-breeds as the song develops into something unique, an irresistable rhythmic collage. (Dolby? Eno? Byrne? I don’t think I’m just being lazy citing those; they seem part of Dear’s upbringing, back to this generational question. And they seem re-molded into something that sounds like his voice, and this year. They certainly aren’t bad influences to prod. Here, though, they become almost atomic ingredients in a bigger dance groove.)
Even based on these two tracks, I suspect this latest effort will add to the pile of evidence that Ghostly International is one of the major labels, having endured the strange dramatic twists of the electronic scene over the past years. Oh, yeah, and, of course, yet again, the release itself looks visually gorgeous. (see below) Ghostly’s stuff looks nice enough, consistently enough, to make them practically annoying, like that person you meet at parties who always makes you rolled out of bed and didn’t put in any effort. So, speaking of which, other labels and app makers and whatnot: you might want to put in some effort, rather than rolling your releases out of bed.
Oh, and another thing: much lamentation is heard about the fact that “EDM” (that acronym, long disused, bizarrely making a comeback) has suddenly become commercial and pop-dominated. It seems the natural evolution, for things that aren’t simply pandering to massive festival crowds, to again embrace songwriting. Indeed, with so much good underground stuff, you wonder what people will have to say if they do bare their souls and sing what’s on their mind. Imitating Dear is an exceptionally-bad idea for an emerging producer. But picking up a microphone, and really crafting lyrical expression rather than just adding vocals as decoration? That’s a great idea.
Single release for these two tracks, on vinyl and digital:
“Her Fantasy” @ Ghostly Store
There’s a tour, as well, but limited to New York, LA, and DC. (Rest of the world, fret not – Ghostly sent an email today in which Matthew Dear promises to tour this album around the world.)
05.27 Brooklyn, NY @ Loreley (DJ Set)
06.16 Los Angeles, CA @ Avalon Hollywood (DJ Set)
06.30 Chicago, IL @ Montrose Beach (DJ Set)
07.20 Washington, DC @ U Street Music Hall (DJ Set)
07.21 Long Island City, New York @ MoMA PS1 (DJ Set)
11.17 New York, NY @ Webster Hall