Matthew Dear

Using techno's minimalist rigidity to slim down the bloated diva that devoured house music, Michigan's Matthew Dear has proved himself an accomplished producer of microhouse, the most progressive regressive movement in recent memory. With his debut full-length, Leave Luck to Heaven, he beefs up a sound flayed of fat by peppering it with funk.

Structurally Dear's productions are simultaneously muted yet buoyant. His beats are like rice paper -- thin, crisp, and bordering on translucent when submerged in the droplets of bass that blotch their stereo field. The album's percolating peck consumes everything from "Fex"'s foamy, submerged melodic drifts to the swaggering clipped contour of hiccuping vocals on "An Unbending." Some of its "pop" cuts even inject Chicago-influenced new jack, loose-limbed swing -- "But For You" and "Dog Days" feature strutting rhymes over rubbery bass and wiggly keyboards, while the bass line of "It's Over Now" recalls Whodini's "Freaks Come Out at Night."

One reason Leave Luck to Heaven sounds so precise is that Dear has already recorded several successful tracks that are bulbous and abraded, glitchy and gamey, under the pseudonyms False and Jabberjaw. That's not to say Heaven is austere, but it is the most refined of Dear's oeuvre to date.

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Tony Ware