Matthew Dear

Backstroke (Spectral Sound/Ghostly International)

His 2003 full-length, Leave Luck to Heaven, still induces compulsive gyration in even the most discriminating clubbin' hipsters. This year, Detroit micro-house darling Matthew Dear returns with his extended EP, Backstroke. Like the three states of matter, Backstroke travels through phases of solid, liquid, and gas. Dear swiftly stimulates the glacial opener, "Another," launching the album on a confident, promising trajectory. Beats start bouncing like particles in heated space, and the rest of the tracks quickly melt.

Dear's primary objective is imploring his listener to dance, but he incorporates his assemblage into a sharply wounded sound. Standout tracks "Grut Wall," "Huggy's Parade," and "Good Girl" begin subtly, then assertively increase in scope, pulsating and swelling only to retreat into Dear's dark corner. This ambivalent push-pull is a motif throughout, reiterated with clinically detached lines like "I don't care about you anymore" and "Cut the cord and pull the plug/I'll close my eyes and shrug." Dear's trademark disembodied, vocal nonchalance is the perfect anchor to his hypnotic minimalism. Eventually, laws of science must be honored, and though Backstroke ultimately vanishes into thin air, Dear leaves traces of other theories he has yet to explore. -- Kelly Shindler

 
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