Matthew Dear
Beams



Release Date: 2012 | Tracklist

Review Summary: If you’re looking for Black City 2.0, you’ve got it, except blander and boring.

What in the world happened to this guy? He used to be very captivating and smart and a beyond excellent electronic producer. Especially with his previous classic releases such as Backstroke or Leave Luck To Heaven where he was the catalyst for the oddball genre microhouse immensely with such songs like Another, Dog Days, Grut Wall and many others. Microhouse is a genre that blends tiny micro-beats or samples into the style of house music. The sublime, but stiff, robotic and (later) grooving sound of it was a critical part of what made Matthew Dear's music so unbelievable and his music was also one of the first to popularize the microhouse genre. Another thing that made his music so enjoyable was his vocals. Asa Breed was the first album to use vocals on every track, whereas his previous albums had only 2-3 songs that contained vocals. His rich baritone voice was quite dismal, dreary and it really catches the attention of the listener. A thing though I noticed about Asa Breed is that there was a bit of a lack of microhouse and it leaned more towards just house and a few other genres which is fine and there’s nothing wrong with that, but it made me wonder what was in store for in the future. It was then that the album Black City came out in 2010 and it was a bit shocked to hear all of the micro-beat and micro sample influences completely gone and onto the sound of dark and gritty synthpop. However, even if it was a shock, it was still a very enjoyable album. It was funky, exciting, danceable and Matthew Dear’s voice sounded great even if the lyrics were a bit cheesy (“I'm a monkey / Frozen in my monkey dream / It's time...time to monkey / Lost in our monkey sleep."). Personally, I much preferred his albums before it and therefore I was disappointed.

Now he’s hit a critical point in his career in 2012 with a brand new album that will determine what direction he goes in now. Will his new album Beams return to his microhouse roots and make more classic songs like Another, Neighborhoods or Tides? Will it have the catchiness and inspiring sounds that once added to the growing genre? The answer is no. Sadly, the album still keeps the same sort of vibes from Black City and in doing so adding in more of an Afro-Caribbean vibe. As soon as I listened to the first song “Her Fantasy” I was immediately disappointed.

The song is 6 minutes long and it sounds like a dance party in a chaotic jungle. It is incredibly boring, bland and instead of Matthew Dear adding anything to the music with his vocals he distracts us from the rhythm of the music and makes it hard to enjoy the song. The odd sound effects that sound like a jungle add absolutely nothing interesting to the song and it makes the song very annoying. Not to mention that the song meanders far longer then it needs to be and ends very loudly and just when you wish it would change, the bland nature continues on with songs like Earthforms, Overtime, Get the Rhyme Right and then with the remainder of the songs after that. They aren’t bad per se, but are simply weaker replications of his earlier and better songs. The song Ahead of Myself portrays a lot of glitchy samples that reminisce a time when Matthew Dear was making better albums than this and the song actually is a lot stronger than most of the stuff on here, but it suffers from the same flaw that the rest of the album goes through: the songs are really not that captivating past the first minute and a half of almost. To end off the bad part of this album there isn’t really anything very bad about it, but it’s incredibly disappointing for me when his other albums are much more interesting, fun and alluring. Almost every song gets bland and repetitive with little next to nothing gained, but nothing lost as well.

However, there is a shred of hope for this album. It is a very exotic-like danceable album and if it may not be so bland if one were to focus on the melodies and rhythms more than his gloomy low vocals and just danced. Songs like Headcage and Fighting Is Futile are some of the few moments where this album gets to be a very exciting listen. With some micro-sampled vocals in the background of Fighting is Futile and the funky house rhythms on both tracks while singing some low and catchy lyrics that are meant to be distracting, but actually enjoyable as both songs showcase the very few highlights this album has to offer. The song Shake Me takes a weird turn and goes in a slow dub direction which slithers all over the song as a hard hitting piano layers itself over top of it. The airy vocals that start around the 1:50 mark of the song add so much to the atmosphere of the song as it makes this one of the least bland song on the album, much like the last song on the album Temptation which also has a bit of atmosphere as well. It also is a strong finisher to the album and also another example of how the vocals add a more fun and exciting nature to the album instead of a bland one.

The desire to say more positive things about this album is overwhelming, but I simply can’t. Not after such classics that Matthew Dear has brought us in the past. This is an overly bland, boring and weak replication of his previous and better albums. It’s enjoyable to an extent and I recommend it to people who haven’t already listened to Matthew Dear, but for those of you that have listened, it will be a disappointment. Just cradle up in your bed with Leave Luck To Heaven and wish this album would disappear.



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user ratings (23)
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Comments:Add a Comment 
mindleviticus
August 26th 2012


8325 Comments


Streaming here (also on his soundcloud): http://www.nme.com/news/matthew-dear/65628

This came out today. Do me a favor and listen to his older stuff before you dive into this one. Also give me a shout out, politely, if you see any mistakes or if what I'm saying is wrong.

bloc
August 26th 2012


34992 Comments


Technique recommended by reviewer?

YOU DISHONOR IT

Digging: The Birthday Massacre - Superstition

mindleviticus
August 26th 2012


8325 Comments


No, I put it there for you guys to check out

bloc
August 26th 2012


34992 Comments


Ah, excellent tactic my man.

mindleviticus
August 26th 2012


8325 Comments


I thought so ;]

Rev
August 26th 2012


9439 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

what is your avatar?

mindleviticus
August 26th 2012


8325 Comments


Haha, I just had this conversation with Fluttertrank. It's Misery from Ruby Gloom :]

mindleviticus
August 27th 2012


8325 Comments


What's yours?

Rev
August 27th 2012


9439 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Yukari Takeba from Persona 3


anyway, this is underwhelming. What's the best place to go after Black City? that's the only album besides this I've heard from him

mindleviticus
August 27th 2012


8325 Comments


Just start with Leave Luck To Heaven and continue up his discography. He gets progressively worse with each release. My favorite album by him though is Backstroke.

Rev
August 27th 2012


9439 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

alright sweet, thanks bro

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
August 27th 2012


31474 Comments


Weren't you digging this at one point?

Album is shit, shut up mindle etc

Digging: Hyperdub - Hyperdub 10.4

mindleviticus
August 27th 2012


8325 Comments


I dug it so I would remember to listen to it.

Piglet
August 27th 2012


4662 Comments


solid review,
i've been meaning to check him out, this probably ain't a good place to start then

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
August 27th 2012


31474 Comments


Just read over this and you've got a number of really awkward sentences going on here

Especially with such classic releases such as Backstroke or Leave Luck To Heaven


Such and such

where he catalyzed the oddball genre microhouse immensely with such songs like Another, Dog Days, Grut Wall and many others.


"Catalyzed" isn't the word you want here; in theory it makes sense, but saying that he accelerated the oddball genre immensely is still somewhat clumsy. You could say that he was the catalyst for the genre, that would work

what made Matthew Dears


Apostrophe here

whereas his albums previous this one had only 2-3 songs that contained vocals.


whereas his previous albums...

I noticed about Asa Breed


Italics

A thing though I noticed about Asa Breed is that there was a bit of a lack of microhouse


Lol - micorhouse is just minimal house music, of which there was plenty of

Now he’s hit a critical point in his career in 2012.


Why, how?

Sounds fun right?


get rid of this nonsense. Never "talk" to your audience, unless you're writing a children's book

meanders way too long then it needs to be


fix this

per say,


Per se (come on man)

his early and better songs.


earlier

that reminisce the glory days of an album


fix this

but it suffers from the same flaw that album, in general, has to all go through:


Huh? this makes no sense

the songs are really not that captivating past the first minute and a half of almost each and every song.


songs is a plural, you don't have to continue the sentence with "each and every song"

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
August 27th 2012


31474 Comments


Also, not really a fan of you randomly jumping into first person narrative halfway through the first paragraph. It just comes out of nowhere and really upsets the flow of the review

clercqie
Contributing Reviewer
August 27th 2012


6504 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Yeah, this was pretty bland. I still enjoyed it, though.
Will read the review later.

Digging: Recondite - Iffy

clercqie
Contributing Reviewer
August 27th 2012


6504 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Good review, I agree with the points you're making.
My biggest problem with the album is that he uses his vocals as a substitute for interesting sound manipulations, like most minimal techno artists.

fuckthatnoise
August 27th 2012


1479 Comments


Fantano's review really makes me wanna check this out.

mindleviticus
August 27th 2012


8325 Comments


thanks for all the mistakes Dev. I'll fix that up now.



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