“Slowdance” For Dear

by Steve Huey SOURCE All Music / YouTube
Photo Credit: Paul Clement

It didn't take long for Matthew Dear to catapult himself into the front rank of microhouse producers, emerging in the early 2000s with a string of high-quality releases for Spectral Sound, Plus 8, and Perlon. Dear broke out in 2003 with the singsongy single "Dog Days," at once a DJ favorite and something of an indie crossover, and continued to switch between -- and sometimes fuse together -- track- and- song-oriented material.

He wasn't just a constantly evolving producer but a DJ and a hard-working performing artist as well, a key driving force behind the success of Ann Arbor, MI's Ghostly International/Spectral Sound axis.

Born and raised in Texas, Dear first discovered electronic music at age 16; he later attended the University of Michigan, where he met future Ghostly International label founder Sam Valenti IV. He started DJing at parties and eventually moved into production. In late 1999, he and Daisha (aka Disco D) teamed up to deliver the inaugural Ghostly 12" release, "Hands Up for Detroit." It's speedy disco-house sound remains an outlier in Dear's discography. Dear wound up on Ghostly's more dance-oriented subsidiary Spectral Sound, for which he debuted in 2001 with the lean techno 12" "Irreparably Dented"; another, "Stealing Moves," followed in 2002. That year, Dear signed to Richie Hawtin's Plus 8 label, where he issued some of his most stripped-down productions as False.

Dear's busiest year yet was 2003. His first False singles were compiled on a self-titled disc. As Jabberjaw, he released the playful "Girlfriend" 12" on Berlin's Perlon label, and returned to Spectral Sound for EP1 and EP2 that summer. In November, he released his first true full-length album, Leave Luck to Heaven, also on Spectral Sound. Titled after the loose English translation of the word "Nintendo," the album earned positive notice from a number of publications and was led by the highly acclaimed single "Dog Days."

The following year, he issued Backstroke and the "Anger Management" single and initiated his Audion alias -- a vehicle for aggressive and challenging techno -- with a pair of 12" releases for Spectral Sound. Audion dominated Dear's next couple years, which involved an album (Suckfish), a handful of singles, and the Fabric 27 mix. Also in 2006, Dear's "Hands Up for Detroit" was sampled by Netherlands-based producer Fedde Le Grand for "Put Your Hands Up 4 Detroit," a pervasive club hit of 2006/2007. Asa Breed, billed as the proper full-length follow-up to Leave Luck to Heaven, was issued in June 2007 and stuck to sparse, song-based avant-pop. As Dear kept Audion active and revived Jabberjaw, he recorded another album of strange songs in the form Black City, released in August 2010.