website_header_art_march_2017.jpg
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
Please support the music you love with your new or renewing membership donation today!

Glitchy Dance Music Meets Top-Notch Pop

Matthew Dear specializes in "microhouse," a minimalist and glitchy subgenre of dance-floor music.
Matthew Dear specializes in "microhouse," a minimalist and glitchy subgenre of dance-floor music.

Matthew Dear is one of the most celebrated American producers of "microhouse," a minimalist and glitchy subgenre of dance-floor music. He's recorded under the aliases False, Jabberjaw and, most frequently, Audion. He also slaps his real name on records.

But even if Audion's records show his stripped-down experimental side and his own name indicates "Attention: Vocals May Be Contained Within," there isn't a huge variation in the music attached to Dear's various sobriquets. Ultimately, it's all top-notch electronica.

Those divisions could become more defined, however, with his latest album as Matthew Dear, Asa Breed. While 2004's Backstroke included vocals, it still veered into the realm of minimalist disco. But Asa Breed is Dear's most song-oriented album to date, and "Deserter" stands as its most pop-friendly tune.

"Deserter" sounds like a gem plucked from an obscure compilation of British or German synth-pop from the early '80s. Four bass notes plot the song's course as a robotic drum machine clip-clops out a rigid pattern, over which Dear deadpans lyrics such as "You sound deserted / Lost and alone / The world around you has gone perverted."

Dear's singing remains so-so: Imagine if Joy Division's Ian Curtis had stayed alive long enough for Prozac, taking just enough to stave off the sadness but not enough to wipe away the desolate feelings. But Dear's emotionless voice also serves his chilly new-wave tunes perfectly, just as "Deserter" serves as an ideal introduction to Asa Breed's icy pop excellence.

Listen to yesterday's 'Song of the Day.'

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Christopher Porter
Christopher Porter is a freelance writer, editor and photographer based in Silver Spring, Md. He has a bad back and great hair. His work has appeared in Alternative Press, Entertainment Weekly, ESPN the Magazine, Inside Entertainment, Global Rhythm, Harp, JazzTimes, National Geographic World Music, Time Out Chicago, The Stranger, Vibe, Washington City Paper and The Washington Post. He blogs and repurposes junk at www.christopherporter.com.