tech•no \tek-nõ\ n + chill•out \ chil-aût \ vb
Originally published in Time Out Chicago magazine | 10.14.10
When Ghostly International materialized in 1999, its Pac-Man ghost logo symbolizing a playful alternative to the ivory tower of techno elitism, Matthew Dear quickly settled into his role as the label’s main attraction. He was an emerging talent who would not let his preferred brand of electronic music—techno—define him.Well, Matthew Dear is no longer emerging. He’s juggled many musical explorations, cycling through his Audion, Jabberjaw and False aliases depending on the mood—which has spanned from stomping techno to airy minimalism. But chiefly he has remained Matt Dear, and this is where he does the most to challenge conventions. As Dear, he doesn’t make tracks, not in a looping, repetitive sense anyway. He makes songs. And Black City is full of them.
Whereas 2007’s Asa Breed bounced around in style and mood, Dear’s vision here is a clear one, even if it is mostly shrouded in the dead of night. On the dark disco of “Little People,” the chorus of “What have we done?/?lost the right one” bubbles up amid plucked bass and Bobby McFerrin–like vocal harmonies that don’t exactly scream “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.” The slinky ’80s electro of “You Put A Smell On Me” is unapologetically lascivious, tracing a sexual conquest from his big black car—“you decide if you want to come” he suggestively lets her know—that ends at his big black house where all focus is on her little red nightgown.
Dear is clearly working through some personal muck in all of this mechanically soulful doom and gloom, but for all its ominous tendencies Dear’s Black City has a light at the end of the tunnel. In the uplifting piano of set closer “Gem,” he comes to terms with his troubles, putting them behind him and embracing a brighter day.
—Joshua P. Ferguson
To show some fan love as he goes on tour, Matthew Dear also released the track "Innh Dahh" from the digital version of Black City for free download: