In his new album, Asa Breed, electronic superstar Matthew Dear managed to jettison both the galactic techno tendencies of his Audion project and the more experimental glitches of his debut, Leave Luck to Heaven. What's left behind is a moody pop album with touches of early new wave, rock and the ghosts of his techno past.
Live drum kits fill out familiar 4/4 rhythms, especially with the openers "Fleece on the Brain" and "Neighborhoods." The beats are modeled after techno templates and assisted by arpeggio synths and bleeps, but Dear's layered vocals add an organic quality. "Deserter," the album's single, is a melancholy new wave throwback. On "Elementary Lover," Dear sings along with sunny guitars and electronic keys, echoing the likes of the Talking Heads. "Good to Be Alive" really shines with old-school drum machine claps on top of an '80s-tinged rhythm set off by a winding mile-high synth alarm.
The best moments are those where the live and the electronic instrumentation blend together. Most of the disc is a near pitch-perfect version of a full band emulating the sounds of Detroit and Berlin. It's never loose until the very end, when Dear attempts to channel Johnny Cash on "Vine to Vine." As a techno/pop crossover, Asa Breed is a recent best, and while it's not headed for mainstream advertising stardom, this one will stick with us for awhile. Still, let's hope he returns to the club someday soon and whips up another "Mouth to Mouth" to melt our ears again.
Do you know what Matthew's father did for a living? You can find the answer by watching the Matthew Dear video here. Cool Hunting has an Asa Breed CD, t-shirt and poster to give away to one lucky reader. To enter, follow the contact link at the bottom of the page, select "Matthew Dear Giveaway" from the pull-down menu and let us know before Friday, 8 June 2007, 11:59 p.m. EST. A winner will be selected at random.
By Jesse Mann