Matthew Dear created a noticeable stir in the electronic music world a couple of years ago with his fourth full length LP, Black City. Without a doubt, a step up from his minimal and house-influenced roots in terms of production and scope, it was uncertain whether Dear could continue to deliver at the high level that he set for the scene.
From the opener, it is immediately apparent that Matthew Dear has what it takes to remain as a key figure in the electronic dance scene. ‘Her Fantasy’ utilises pounding beats and vocal samples over an ethereal and dreamlike backdrop, with Dear introducing the record with his deep, sensual vocal that made 2010’s Black City so striking. Elements of synthesised techno are thrown into the mix which unravels the haunting feeling of the track and hastily transforms it into a disco inspired club track. The vocal samples and electronic elements are increased in volume and depth as the track progresses and are weaved masterfully and contrast boldly with the low tone that is employed to deliver the cryptic lyrics.
The bar that was set with the opener continues to be matched with the succeeding tracks; ‘Fighting is Futile’ experiments with a beat that is reminiscent of the deep house genre, but sped up to create something infectious and memorable. ‘Up & Out’ plays with a trundling bass line, feathered with lighter touches from the twinkling keys and samples. ‘Overtime’ takes on an industrial sound, heavily relying on reverberated sound and space-age electronics to create its relentlessly fast-moving atmosphere. The lyricism while not a focal point of this style of dance music, is quite well realised and makes use of interesting themes; ‘Ahead of Myself’ and ‘Do the Right Thing’ being songs that feel particularly personal.
The main feature that is prevalent throughout this LP is the nightclub inspired sound that was fully realised on Black City, which is produced impressively throughout with the heavy and continual use of synths and incredibly heavy bass and deep vocals. As a full-length record, repetition can set in at around the midpoint of Side B, when it is most clearly apparent that all of the tracks share a common ground in that they are certain to work most effectively in a house/techno mix in a dimly lit club full of intoxicated dancers. Matthew Dear has developed his sound into something quite unique, however, and his style is instantly recognisable, despite being a drop in the ocean of an over-saturated genre.