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Matthew Dear

Her Fantasy 12”

[Ghostly International; 2012]

By ; June 28, 2012 

Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOG

Matthew Dear’s last full-length – 2009’s Black City – was full of dark streaks, dirty textures and sleepless energy, effectively exploring the flashy streets and dark alleys of his invented metropolis. There were a few light streaks here and there (and even a genuinely heartfelt moment at the end), but it wasn’t until Dear released the first follow up material – the Headcage EP, from earlier this year – that we saw the first real rays of sunlight. His latest 12” gives us the first taste of what his next album – Beams, out later this year – is going to sound like, and if “Her Fantasy” is any indication of what to expect, then it’s safe to say the party hasn’t stopped.

“Her Fantasy” carries Dear’s intricate looped backdrops and his multi-tracked baritone forward, following on from Headcage’s less instrument orientated style, and going instead for a flowing groove. And he has a good one going on “Her Fantasy,” creating an atmosphere akin to a Rio street party, with the sounds of voices chattering and infectious whistles weaved together. Dear also knows how to explore a particular sound well: the beat isn’t overbearing or tiring, and the few instrumental touches are mixed at just the right level allowing the six minutes to flow by smoothly. If there’s an obvious hook here, then somewhat surprisingly it’s Dear’s lyrics. He bookends the track around the mantra “There’s just one/ in a million hearts/ that feels the way / the way I do,” and in between explores and questions what it is to love another and what effect it has on him and others. It sounds a bit mushy, and considering Dear’s lyrics have been occasionally impenetrable in the past, might sound like a bad idea. But thankfully Dear has come on a lyricist, and can produce some good lines when he’s got his heart on his sleeve, or as he puts it, “hearts in their hands/ hands on their hearts.”

The other new track, “Crimewaves” is equally busy, with creaks and crows that makes it sound like a rainforest. It’s less heavy on the lyrics, but the curious backdrop and lively staccato synth chords get it by and keep you interested until the breakdown in the final minute where Dear has a go at a sort of whispered scatting. He trails off at the ends repeating the line “Let your feelings rise,” and with a brighter atmosphere which also allows him to breathe that bit more, it won’t be entirely surprising if Beams turns out to be his most lyrically heavy album yet, which might just reveal more about Dear, who despite not using an alias or being too caught up in secrecy, still manages to retain a mysterious air about himself.

The 12” is finished by a remix of “Her Fantasy” by Tornado Wallace, which turns the original into a late night roller-disco jam. The whole thing is actually rather detached from the original track, and had it not included a few lyrical snippets from Dear, you could be convinced it was something else entirely. Still, it’s a likeable seven minutes that brings the whole three-track affair to a mellow closing. And I suppose the only thing you could fault the 12” for is being too short; you’ll come away after the first two tracks wanting to hear more of Dear’s new sound, but that’s what the album is for. This single gathers a couple of great tracks, and at the very least, can help gets the party started before the album drops. And going by what’s heard here, it might well be a hell of a party.


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