Matthew Dear: “DJ-Kicks” Mixed Tracks Album Review

Written By: Ethan Griggs

My Music:

Throughout the new millennium, few artists have been more at the forefront of electronic and techno than Matthew Dear. Since his debut 2003 full length Leave Luck to Heaven, Dear has crafted a signature kind of electro-pop that has stationed him heavily behind both the turntable and the microphone. Described as both a DJ and a bandleader, his sound is equal part Talking Heads/David Bowie and Adonis, and he’s had stints on the road with the likes of Hot Chip and Interpol. His 2010 album, Black City, was considered to be his best. While his birth name is the brand of his main project; he also has released a few albums under the monikers Audion, False, and JabberJaw. Now, after nearly fifteen years as a professional, his sound is getting the DJ-KiCKs treatment.

Released back in January, Dear’s installment of DJ-KiCKS is a vast and daunting mixtape mixed completely by Dear and featuring a broad scope of electronic old and young. Dear’s compilation for the long running mixtape series by !Ky Records is not too far misplaced from the excellent installment released by Moodymann nearly a year ago, but that tape was more disco-infected and R&B soaked than anything else. Dear’s installment differs due to its immaculate sequencing and a combo of deep house and percussive techno.

Throughout the tape, the listener hears a variety of samples, Dear’s own voice at times, and a variety of sounds helmed from many of the artist’s contemporaries. The first mix on the tape is an interpolation of Nils Frahm’s “Ode”, which paints a completely opposite portrait from what we’re about to hear with its reverb-drenched piano. This quickly fades over into the sleek and stark “Wrong With Us” the only original piece provided by Dear for the mixtape.

The next hour or so that ensues is filled with a dynamic collection of music from the likes of Mahal, Kreon, Smoke, Decius, Groovesh, DJ Khalab, and countless others. Dear also goes so far to include three new tracks created under the Audion moniker, “Live Breakdown”, “S********r”, and “Brines”. Throughout the mixtape the tempo shifts and the spectrum of sound is meticulously traversed, but its energy and spunk doesn’t falter, especially on Dear’s mix of Decius’s “Bread & Butter” and Markus Enochson’s “Hot Juice Box”. With its exemplary interpretation of contemporary house, techno, and electropop, Dear’s DJ-KiCKS is sure to remain on many electronic fans’ playlists throughout the remainder of the year.