Matthew Dear (DJ)
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 Get Physicals Body Language and Fabric mix series. 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 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. The 2007 follow-up, Asa Breed, is a considerable departure from Heavens 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, and Dear subsequently began touring with a live three-piece band, Matthew Dears Big Hands, in which Dear acted as frontman, commanding the stage with a Bryan Ferry-like swagger and a gentleman’s grace.
2010 saw the release of Dear’s watershed third album, Black City, a darkly playful sound-world that envelops the listener like the arms of a malevolent lover. Black City was met with near-unanimous critical praise, earning top marks from Mojo, Uncut, Q, URB, and the Village Voice, ending up on countless year-end lists, and earning Pitchfork’s coveted Best New Music nod. A worldwide tour followed, in which Dear and a newly expanded band continued to hone their live chops with vicious focus.
Matthew Dear’s latest full-length, 2012’s Beams, is both a drastic departure from and worthy successor to Black City’s gothic masterwork. A suite of weird, wild, and queasily optimistic rhythm-driven pop songs, Beams is the latest chapter in the continuing evolution of one of music’s most fascinating minds. After over a decade of exploring pops outer limits, Matthew Dear now inhabits a rarified 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.
On stage, Matthew Dear performs with a multi-pieced live band, unraveling the tightly wound album tracks into kaleidoscopic walls of sound. They have supported Interpol, Hot Chip and Depeche Mode on their world tours, and have performed sold-out shows from London to New York City.
It’s been going on for nearly a decade: Under cover of darkness, Matthew Dear slips out of his usual guise as pop-music innovator and exorcises his dancefloor demons through his constantly shifting alter-ego, Audion. Over the years, Dear has steered the Audion sound from grime-flecked minimalism to sinewy funk to relentless floor-fillers and back, but Audion’s core remains constant: an itchy forward momentum, an eye-popping visual aesthetic, and a dedication to high-class body music.
Audion first appeared in 2004 with two EPs, Kisses and The Pong, which offered a harder-edged counterpoint to the crisp microhouse of Dear’s eponymous tracks at the time. 2005’s full-length Suckfish unveiled the full scope of the Audion sound, as tracks like “Just Fucking” and “Your Place or Mine” presented an aggressive, sonically serrated side of Matthew Dear few had seen before. In 2006, Audion’s subversive club anthem “Mouth To Mouth”—an ever-ascending work of art with a distinctive “swarm of bees” climax—became the toast of that year’s DEMF. That track, still in heavy rotation among the world’s top DJs, was the pivot point, cementing Audion as a genuine force in the world of dance music. In 2009, Audion re-emerged with a retooled approach: seven sleek, propulsive singles—from the slow motorik pulse of “I Am the Car” to the hands-in-the-air energy of “Look At the Moon”—released over the course of the year, culminating in Hecatomb, Audion’s acclaimed worldwide A/V tour.
Since 2009, it’s been relatively quiet in the Audion camp—two critically acclaimed Matthew Dear records and endless live-band tours notwithstanding. Regardless, the wait is over: Matthew Dear has reassumed the Audion mantle. 2013’s Audion X retrospective—including Dear’s hand-picked favorites from the last ten years along with two new singles ‘Motormouth’ & ‘Sky’—is just the beginning. A new full-length live album and dazzling live A/V tour is in the works for early 2016. If history is any indication, it’s going to be a long night.