“Dear’s latest album, Black City, follows this path but pulls a pretty drastic shift in tone. Where Asa Breed was bubbly and squeaky and ultimately dancefloor-bound, this record is dark as night. The music brings to mind blown-out warehouses, desolate alleys, and seedy basement nightclubs; it’s some real threatening, grimy shit. The production is as inventive and immersive as ever, but what separates this album from the last is that Dear mostly sticks with one theme all the way through. Asa Breed was all over the place at times, but this album has a cohesive thread to follow and smaller vignettes within it.” – Pitchfork (Best New Music 8.4)
“Like its predecessor, ‘Asa Breed’, ‘Black City’ sounds how The Neptunes might were they big fans of Nick Cave, Talking Heads and punishing neon techno. It’s sonically peculiar, coolly melodic, relentlessly detailed and, frequently, exhilarating.” – NME
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 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 the Fabric mix series and Get Physical’s Body Language. 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 Ghostly 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. Dear’s 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 (Q and Mojo magazines), and Dear subsequently began touring with a live three-piece band, Matthew Dear’s Big Hands, in which he acted as frontman, commanding the stage with a Bryan Ferry-like swagger and a gentleman’s grace.
Today, Matthew Dear finds himself in a unique position. His highly anticipated fourth album, 2010’s Black City, is the culmination of years of hard work and experimentation, a darkly playful sound-world that envelops the listener like the arms of a malevolent lover. After over a decade of exploring pop’s outer limits, Matthew Dear now inhabits a rarefied 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.
Matthew Dear’s Black City can’t be found on any map. It’s a composite, an imaginary metropolis peopled by desperate cases, lovelorn souls, and amoral motives. Like most literary Gothams, Black City is a place to love and hate, as seedy as a nightclub’s back room and as seductive as the promise of power. Matthew Dear, the musician, may live in New York City, but the Matthew Dear of Black City inhabits a sound-world unlike any other: a monument to the shadowy side of urban life that bumps and creaks, shudders and wakes up screaming in the middle of the night. Black City is Matthew Dear’s third album on Ghostly International, and it’s his darkest and most engrossing work to date.