Matthew Dear: BLACK CITY

Posted 12/09/2010 by cal

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I like artists that can max out on both catchy and weird, and Matthew Dear pulls it off.  His arrangements are never too cluttered, his hooks never too obscure, but it always seems like there’s interesting shit going on.  In this sense, he’s succeeded in evoking the conceptual unsleeping Black City of the album’s title, and this party will keep you moving all night long.

As evidenced most noticeably in “Little People” and “Soil To Seed”, if Bowie were still into the whole making-music thing and still had a finger on the pulse of youth culture, this is the kind of music he’d be making.  The album is a direct descendant of the Berlin Trilogy, albeit not nearly as far out as, say, side two of “Heroes” was at the time.  One main difference, though, is that the beat never stops to service pure freakiness; any song here would fit snugly in between LCD Soundsystem jams.  If only LCD would stick around; what a great double bill that would make...

Among plenty of excuses to make a sexy time on the dancefloor (especially the awesomely-titled “You Put A Smell On Me”), there are attempts at sinister interludes, but nothing convincing.  “More Surgery” in particular seems to be going for menacing impact, but there’s no weight behind that voice, even with the digital enhancements.  When Dear sings “I’m a toothless man”, he’s ultimately hitting on the album’s only flaw; a community that parties 24/7--particularly one called Black City--has to have some dark corners, and Dear doesn't evoke them.  But even if it’s all a tad tame, the net result is an unblemished pleasure to listen to.

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  • Matthew Krenning's gravatar Matthew Krenning said:
    12/10/2010 8:48 PM

    now if he could only use his voice a tad bit better. This album is creeping up on me this year (leslie blind-bought me the vinyl after I had downloaded it a few months prior). "Smell" is definitely the highlight.

  • cal's gravatar cal said:
    12/10/2010 8:38 AM

    His older stuff is less poppy, more ambient/minimalist stuff, from what I've read. Seems like he'd be a good fit for Four Tet too.

  • fieldsofme's gravatar fieldsofme said:
    12/9/2010 6:07 PM

    you've got me very excited to give this album a listen! I saw him open for Four Tet back in October without knowing a thing about him. I started out a little confused by him...it seemed like just a bunch of sound, but by the end of his 35 mins on stage I wanted to race to the merch table! good stuff without question.

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