The one and only Matthew Dear has gone ahead and released yet another amazing album, Beams, an amalgam of extraterrestrial pop that highlights his seamless transition from tech-house shaman to scion of modern music in the image of Bowie or Byrne. You’re probably not going to be hearing his tracks on the radio anytime soon; I mean pop in the classical sense, like when radio music happened to be accessible, catchy and fun to dance to. Dear’s label Ghostly International has had nothing short of an amazing run these past few years with releases from the likes of Com Truise, Gold Panda, School of Seven Bells, Tycho and Dear himself, earning it the reputation of being one of the most premiere independent record labels in the world.
Dear opens Beams with “Her Fantasy”, the album’s first single whose accompanying music video captures the psychedelic disco feel perfectly. The many layers of twings, twangs, honks and bonks are held together by the ethereal pinging of a distant single-keyed synth, like the “Om” uttered in prayer by Hindus and Buddhists, as Dear lays down his signature smokey baritone voice.
While Black City transported the listener to a nether realm of dark pop, Beams felt more like personal and existential affair as Dear examines the issues of identity, Love and isolation. This can be readily identified in “Earthforms”, a excellent blend of post-punk and pop. A particular stand out is “Up & Out”, with its scintillating bass line, minimal guitar riffs and claps (Disco is about 50 percent claps) juxtaposing Dear’s ambiguous post-nihilism: “Wasting the days / Sucking my thumb / Sleeping around, nothing gets done / It’s a disease I cannot afford to shake / Where haven’t I been, isn’t it great?”
“Ahead of Myself” is probably the best song of the album, demonstrating Dear’s maturity as both a songwriter and composer. It conjures a dark yet comfortable ambiance enabling Dear’s artistic wisdom to be gleaned by the listener in a meaningful way. All in all Beams is a strong record that shows Dear’s versatility as a modern electronic artist in a musical landscape that shifts almost annually. His deftness is to his advantage and I am certain we will be hearing a lot more amazing sounds out of him and label.
Matthew Dear — Earthforms
Matthew Dear — UP & Out
Matthew Dear — Ahead of Myself
Posted by: Laurence Henriquez