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Ray of Light

Ray of Light

Matthew Dear tells us about his new opus 'Beams'

You didn’t catch us high fiving like a frat-boy locker room with the news techno genius Matthew Dear would be veering even further into full live band territory on sixth album, ‘Beams’ (out now on Ghostly International).
 
Ventures by similarly great architects of the electronic form became — to be frank — a bit of a damp squib (just take Apparat’s ‘The Devil’s Walk’ for example) but ‘Seams’ is no such disappointment. Incorporating live elements — electric guitars, drums, real basslines sampled — without turning his back on what he does best, Dear’s meticulous sequencing ensures this LP is a triumph.
 
Drawing upon strict 4/4 patterns and synth-pop melodies to frame his characteristic glottal vocals, it’s clear he’s found his formula — one that garners a whole lot more funk amid a host of song-based fancies. Distinctly more poppy than 2010’s ‘Black City’, ‘Beams’ really is a ray of light. We caught up with the creator himself to find out more...
 
Hey Matthew, how's it going?
“It's going well, and yourself?”
 
Marvellous thanks. Did you know your name reminds us of a well-to-do mother calling her son down to dinner ("Matthew, dear! Dinner is ready!")?
“Sounds like a well-to-do son also, wouldn't you say?”
 
Is it your real name?
“Indeed, and I've got the driver's license to prove it. I don't have a middle name for some reason.”
 
Techno always seemed to be your number one. Is that still the case?
“Making music is my number one. There is simply so much to say with it. Lately, I've only released music under the aforementioned surname, but I've got quite the slew of techno tracks building up.”
 
Can we expect to see any new Audion tracks in the near future then?
“Yes! I have scheduled three months for studio time at the beginning of 2013. I plan to record at least one Audion album.”
 
Let's talk about your new direction. What influences have you drawn upon?
“I draw upon my daily life experiences when writing songs. My albums are about love and the relationships with my friends and family.”
 
And in doing that, what are you setting out to achieve creatively?
“I want to learn as much as I can in the studio, and learn from the wealth of creative talent in the world at the moment.”
 
'Black City' had a punk-funk vibe yet 'Beams' has gone down a poppier route. Does that mean your next album will sound like the Pet Shop Boys?
“If I could sing like Neil Tennant I would have been making pop records 15 years ago!”
 
Seriously though, where can we expect you to go next?
“It's hard to say what my next record will sound like. I have a few songs ready for it, and they're full of bright synths and loud guitars. I have been singing a bit differently on them. A bit more direct and upfront.”
 
The sequencing of 'Beams' is top-notch. You've framed live instruments and your vocals excellently within a 4/4 format. How have you gone about that?
“There's something so alluring about straight dance music that I cannot escape. It's an endless spell that I seem to be caught in when producing, regardless of the genre or format.”
 
Tell us about your live show. Has that been rewarding? What challenges have you met?
“I've been playing with a band for over six years now. The latest incarnation is a for piece (bass, drums, percussion, and myself on guitars and synth). Getting things to sound big and well mixed is always the goal and can often be a challenge. With live electronic music, the levels can be maintained quite easily, but when you add live instruments, and try to mix them with synths, samples, and drums machines, things can easily go askew. Learning how to keep sonic control is challenging, but very rewarding when you get it right.”  

Words: ADAM SAVILLE