Black City - Ghostly International
FILTER Grade: 80%
By Kyle Lemmon on September 7, 2010
Matthew Dear’s slow clamber to poppy tech-house snaps into focus on his third LP, Black City. Where 2003’s warm yet lifeless Backstroke saw the DJ/Ghostly International co-founder/producer kicking against his frosty vocals, here he succumbs to the aural gloom. The trademarks of any Dear release (hulking beats, off-kilter keyboards, and nimble live drums) are present, but a confidence percolates underneath each thick thump. The genre experiments of 2007’s Asa Breed gelatinize during the hip-hop aping of “Slowdance” and the eerie piano ballad, “Gem.” Raw synths stab on techno jam “You Put a Smell on Me” like Dear’s best instrumental pieces. There’s also an ache in Dear’s metallic vocals that smack of Sea Change-era Beck. A firmer grasp of his limited range would have been welcome (i.e., “I Can’t Feel”), but the N.Y.C. artist still manages to peek further out from his twitchy drum machines like an impish agent of darkness.