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Matthew Dear – Fabric, London 05/12/12

January 4, 2013

matthew-dear_fabric_live_review

The career arc of Matthew Dear is anything but your traditional literal arc, having (particularly in the past) been prone to scatty non-sequiturs in terms of output and genre under various guises. Anything but a linear curve. Upon moving to Detroit in the late 90’s Mr. Dear absorbed the scene of which the city name is synonymous with in the music world: techno – and much of his earlier output consisted of this world.

Having crafted a Fabric mix (the diverse wild polyrhythms of Fabric.27 under the nom de plume of Audion) in 2006, it’s kinda apt to see the avant-garde producer play here at the infamous Fabric for his current live band project, on a bitterly cold Wednesday night. Though not so apt for those of us with wallets, hello £4.50 for just over half a pint. Anyways a canny choice of support in the form of London-based trio The Invisible is the fine precursor to start the evening, having released second album ‘Rispah’ earlier this year. It’s an album immersed in tragedy, “a love letter to grief” as frontman Dave Okumu describes it due to the person closest in his life (his mother) passing away early during the recording process, and as you’d expect it’s a more sombre affair compared to their jaunty Mercury-nominated-debut.

Here it’s somewhat evident as clinical yet smooth beats fill the brickworked room in an immaculate set, playing on the balance between the organic and pre-programmed electronica. It’s wholly danceable, well, more shuffling/agreeable head nodding this being the first act of course, not dissimilar to NZCA/Lines in their nuanced delivery. A very welcome bonus of the evening – as is the magnificent beard from bass and synthesiser guru Tom Herbert. Yes I have beard envy.

The impossibly good-looking and immaculate Vice City facade of Dear enters the stage where flowers adorn mic stands and various stage items (akin to Girls), clasping said mic stand confidently with perfect slick-backed hair and Gucci looks. Okay I’m just trying to feebly scrutinise Dear the way LDR was this year, two wrongs make a right, right? Languid jam ‘Get the Rhyme Right’ opens as the first half of the set consists mostly of 4th and latest album Beams. Each track when experienced individually is highly enjoyable amid Dear’s dulcet tones delivered in a bespoke parlance worm their way between shards of slick synths, however, there are times when it’s a challenge to differentiate between tracks not helped by lack of a true stand-out; and this is the slight issue with the Beams LP as it goes.

For the majority of the time tonight it’s irrelevant, the tribal techno-inspired pop a pleasure to feast on, Dear owning the stage in angular moves and his reverbed woos that greets every song intro – especially when cojones-grabbing numbers like ‘Fleece on Brain’ contain such a sassy clout and driving drum action. ‘I Put A Smell On You’ ends the encore with a hedonistic bravado – a track that posses a deep libidinal quality on record but just oozes the stuff here as the lights go red and the egregious lusting lyrics coupled with salacious beats and bass makes the place go a bit weak at the knees. Dear inviting the audience to take a ride in his “big black car” where you can “go real far”. If walls could talk, they’d say the formally calcified cavities in the brickwork are now a cavorting moist mess.

The phenomenal energy, showmanship and class of Dear is an infectious joy to get involved with even if there is a slight homogenous quality between a handful of tracks; this matters little when you’re too busy losing your shit in the most salubrious way that you can.

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