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Album Review: Black City - Matthew Dear


Sometimes Matthew Dear makes glitch. Sometimes he makes techno. Sometimes he just makes insanity. And increasingly he appears to be favouring the latter.

Sometimes Matthew Dear makes glitch. Sometimes he makes techno. Sometimes he just makes insanity. And increasingly he appears to be favouring the latter.

Following up on his first two albums, Leave Luck to Heaven and Backstroke, Asa Breed was a startling revelation. As much pop as dance, in places tender and wounded and in others aloof and lyrically impenetrable. And since BlackPlastic is ultimately often fond of music that requires a bit of thought, it was one of those albums that we kept coming back to.

Black City is as the title implies - a dark journey through a nighttime urban sprawl inside Dear's mind. It's a darker affair that culminates in the sordid workout of album centrepiece and highlight, the fantastically titled 'You Put A Smell On Me'. Dear's vocals are hardly robust but when he tweaks them in the right way, as he does here - "I'm gonna try you on, and exercise" - he nails his 'thing' somewhere south of sub-zero on the cool wall.

So if you hadn't already guessed, Black City is at times a touch sordid. Whilst nothing touches the mechanical sleazy genius of 'You Put A Smell On Me' in terms of pure filth there is a vibe of sex and alienation that runs throughout the album. 'I Can't Feel' sounds like serial copulation carried out in in a bid to feel something, anything, and as the album progresses the it feels increasingly like a commentary on the instant-gratification-based but veil-thin nature of modern society.

Album closer 'Gem' really nails it, revealing Dear's apparent confusion and isolation. Over a ballad, the vocals are a modest and understated cry for help and attention:

All of my sad songs can't make you change,

They'll just keep pushing you further away.

One of your great regrets will be staying in place,

I can't hold you back from your dreams.

When you figure out what's real I'll be standing here,

A little bit older but forgiving as the night of the day.

In today's modern world it's difficult not to feel a certain empathy with Dear's confusion. Black City not only builds on what Asa Breed achieved - it establishes Dear as a song writer up there with some of the best. This is music to make you dance, think and feel.

BP x

Black City is out now on Ghostly International, available from on CD, LP and MP3 [affiliate links].

Album Review: Moondagger - Deastro

Deastro's slept-on début rocked BlackPlastic's world gently last year when it was released exclusively on eMusic - it's emotive electronic distortion hit a chord and made us go a bit wobbly.

An if Keeper's was a pleasant surprise then Moondagger is a bone fide love bomb. Made of the kind of tunes that BlackPlastic would happily lose their head in for days this is an album that separates the wheat from the chaff of Deastro's previous work to deliver something that really qualifies him as a unquestionably individual.

Moondagger is full of the soppy electronic punk records and the result is a perfect soundtrack to runaway to. Imagine the Pixies meets New Order on the way back from the keyboard store. Exactly.

If Moondagger falls just short of classic status it is only due to a slightly inconsistent overall flow and slight lack of consistency but it is worth noting that this still represents a significant step change from the last album. With tunes like the anarchic and bonkers 'Daniel Johnston Was Stabbed In The Heart With The Moondagger By The King Of Darkness And His Ghost Is Writing This Song As A Warning To All Of Us' Moondagger simply has bags of charm.

At its best - on the irrepressibly enthutiastic 'The Shaded Forests (Gift Givers Version)' or the melancholic 'Kurgan Wave Number One' - this is spine-tinglingly good. 'Kurgen Wave Number One' is so unapologetically bang on the money that you can actually feel the sting from the love turned sour that inspired it just by listening. Music that evocative has to be worth something.

BP x

Moondagger is out now on Ghostly International, order from on CD, MP3 or LP [affiliate links.