Lately appearing as Audion, purveyor of floor-friendly techno, Detroit's Matthew Dear saves his given name for work that marries lean, beat-driven tracks to structures that flirt with pop, featuring his deep and unusual singing voice. Indeed, flirting with pop is as far as Dear had gotten — until Asa Breed. Now, it seems, the relationship has been consummated. For evidence, check the track times: the first two Dear records averaged about five minutes per, and most could have been dancefloor fodder in instrumental form. Asa Breed's songs are comparatively succinct and draw from a much wider array of styles. You don't expect a guy who has logged this many hours in hip dance clubs the world over to deliver a track like the percussion-free "Give Me More," which is driven by a strummed acoustic guitar, or "Midnight Lovers," which isn't terribly far from the gothic roots-rock of the Black Heart Procession.
Dear proves surprisingly adept at such genre-hopping, but catchy, hypnotic electro-pop is still where his greatest talent (and, one imagines, his heart) lies. And for that he gives us a solid handful of clear winners like the Prince-inflected "Pom Pom" and the dramatic and poignant "Deserter," which adds a neo-shoegaze guitar drone to a melody worthy of prime Depeche Mode. Those most interested in his focused production work might find Asa Breed slightly confusing at first, but repeated listens affirm that this is Matthew Dear's best album to date.
The Black Edition of Asa Breed contains remixes and re-envisionings from Four Tet and Hot Chip, as well three tracks not included on the original digital release.