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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 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, was 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 in which he acted as frontman, commanding the stage with a Bryan Ferry-like swagger and a gentleman’s grace.
His latest album, Beams, was a critical and commercial success. It 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 pop’s 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.