Matthew Dear: Spectral Shapeshifter

Matthew Dear is one of the electronic music scene's most chameleonic, now-you-see-him-now-you-don't figures. Much like the namesake phantoms of the labels on which he releases most of his music (Ghostly International and Spectral Sound), he materializes often, but unexpectedly, shapeshifting as his mood suits him. It's no surprise, then, that he names David Bowie as a formative influence.

Born in Texas but raised in Detroit, he steeped early in that city's classic techno sounds, and in college at the University of Michigan met pal Sam Valenti IV, with whom he founded Ghostly. Much like Bowie, Dear specializes in pseudonyms within pseudonyms, adopting and then discarding new mantles to get the right blank slate to explore new sounds. He's bounced through the thump of classic techno, to hiccupping glitch sounds, stripped-down industrial-esque house, and even to band-backed electropop. Along the way, he's amassed an eclectic region of rabid fans, the common thread among them being an appetite for experimentation and transformation.

Thank the folks behind SAFE for trapping the ghost and dragging him down to the swamps, a booking coup other local techno promoters have attempted and failed. A bona fide nonprofit, SAFE specializes in putting on quality electronic dance music events by the people, for the people, so, prima donnas, stay away; there's no bullshit and — shock, horror — no guest list.

Dear is billed on the event's flyer as "Matthew Dear a.k.a. Audion," a blend of two of his handles, so it's anyone's guess from which he'll pull the most music. To get you prepared, then, here's a quick rundown of a few of the many faces of Matthew Dear.

Matthew Dear: The main name under which he produces — duh. As himself, he scored his first hit in 1999, "Hands up for Detroit," which was coproduced with the late, great Disco D. Over time, he's achieved the impressive feat of marrying minimal techno with melodic pop veins, becoming a favorite of techno god Richie Hawtin.

Jabberjaw: The source of just one track, "Girlfriend," for Perlon in 2003.

False: The most minimalicious of his monikers. As False, Dear has released a string of singles, as well as two full-length albums, for labels such as Plus 8 and MINUS. Minimal scarves are practically required neck-gear to listen to these tracks.

Matthew Dear's Big Hands: The band he assembled for a tour in support of his 2007 album, Asa Breed, its organic four-to-the-floor hooked hipsters at shows with acts like Hot Chip.

Audion: Usually billed as the sleaziest (in a, um, complimentary way) of his pseudonyms, Audion tracks are dark, dirty, damp — you can almost hear songs like "Mouth to Mouth" dripping and pulsing with carnal lust. No wonder he chose to bring this side of his oeuvre to Miami.

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Arielle Castillo
Contact: Arielle Castillo