Actually, with this image, I should have made the headline “your attention is kindly requested.” The singer/producer in the UK in 2010. Photo (CC-BY-ND) blikengMagnus Aske Blikeng.

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.

“Her Fantasy”: Listen on SoundCloud

“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

  • Woody Aki

    Saw him in Cambridge supporting Interpol. Initially loved the suave voice, and his trumpet player was wicked. But it turned into a one-trick pony by the third number, and all I could say to myself was “Stick to Audion”…

    A brave and heartfelt effort, but it’s a long way off.

  • Bendish

    More unknowns rather than (or as well as) already established artists please….don’t want to be a downer but how do you decide what/who is featured? Seems like there are a million off the beaten track people you could choose….why Dear?

    This guy is my least favourite of the Ghostly bunch… about some new Lusine? Is this trolling…I’m never sure…

    • Peter Kirn

      Well, Lusine has to release some new music first.

      We regularly cover unknowns – some of them really quite new – and I have more in the hopper. So just stick around. We’ll have something you like, I’m sure. We’re doing more music coverage, and that’ll eventually get to something you find interesting.

      But covering music means covering music someone doesn’t like. The only way to avoid that is to avoid covering music – or find music that’s appealing to everyone (which is a bit uninteresting), or simply write about it without having opinions (which is definitely uninteresting.)

      In the meantime, patience…

  • Bone

    Despite another foray into vocal stuff (and possibly formal attire), it seems notable to me that Dear is touring as a DJ rather than a singer.

    As far as Ghostly’s profile in Europe goes, it seems about right given the size of the label. They certainly seem to have more artists making the rounds there than most similarly-sized European labels have on this side of the pond.

    It’s partly a supply and demand thing, I suppose. While we’re starved for quality electronic touring acts across large swathes of North America, there is consistently a wealth of options in Europe. Why fly some dudes from the Midwest or NYC to Europe when there are countless local or regional artists effectively mining similar creative veins?

    Just to be clear, this isn’t a shot at Ghostly. Love the label. If I had a complaint it would be: MORE DABRYE. It’s been 4 years since his last release on the label. I repeat, MORE DABRYE.

    • Peter Kirn

      He’s adding more dates, so I suspect enough people are booking him in Europe that the plane flight isn’t an issue after all. And he was here a few months ago, though I missed him on the last go-around.

  • Bofeld

    We already have the Talking Heads albums in Europe.

  • N/A

    Matthew Queer… So bland and boring… I walked out of his show at Mutek is was so insincere.

  • ghost dog

    Mouse on Mars?

  • Peter Kirn

    Folks, I need to fix the URL but you can find all our artist coverage under “artists” at top.

    People apparently weren’t reading some of those stories. We’re working on pacing – both myself and Matt Earp who has been contributing columns – so that it’s not in big bursts with big lulls in between, but we’ve covered everyone from John Tejada to unknown Bandcamp finds in the last month.

    Here’s a suggestion for comments: “I disagree with this, because…”

    I can tell you that from anecdotal feedback, I hear people really tell me that comments that just declare they don’t like something (or the one comment that actually called this artist a name, which I deleted as I’ll do with anything that goes there) really brings them down. Some people simply stop reading comments entirely.

  • mauxuam

    David Byrne has a sense of humor of a different class….and the production of this music is far more simplistic than anything on Bush of Ghosts or Remain In light (when they much less sophisticated electronic tools)…it looks like a 48 pixel icon compared to a full blown big wall real painting….Pop keeep eating itself…

    • Guest

      I have to agree… amateur by comparison, though very nice, by today’s standard

  • toemac

    Am I the only one that hears Scary Monsters era Bowie all over Dear’s latest work?

  • Doc

    I have always that that Matthew Dear is extremely underrated when it comes to his own moniker. His voice and electronic stylings have never let me down. I think people have way to many preconceived notions of what he should and shouldn’t be because of all his forays into his alternate productions. Kudos for reviewing true gem!

    • Doc

      one more thing, besides my horrible grammar, his resident advisor podcast was the hotness. So whether you catch him dj or live (which I haven’t) I am sure it would be quite the treat.