Texas DJ kicks out the words, tunes, jams
Despite his well-earned techno pedigree, Matthew Dear is as much a singer/songwriter as a DJ icon. At first he commingled his dual identities, most brilliantly on the 2003 anthem “Dog Days,” but on 2007’s Asa Breed he put the words and tunes front and center, showcasing appealing tics derived from Bowie and Byrne. His new album’s opener, “Honey,” is a dirge à la Talking Heads’ “The Overload,” but that’s a red herring. Black City overall is lean and upbeat, and Dear’s gift for making an arrangement jump within snug confines continues to evolve; “I Can’t Feel” is at once loosely polyrhythmic and skin-tight, and “More Surgery” features a jazz-fusion bass line driven by sonic implosions. The mid-tempo art-disco of “Little People (Black City)” is, at nine minutes, the one place where Dear’s dance-floor instincts outweigh his rock-artist ones, but Black City remains a well-balanced mix.