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Matthew Dear

After releasing a number of promising 12-inches under his own name for Ghostly International spinoff Spectral Sound and under the aliases False (on Plus 8) and Jabberjaw (for Perlon), techno producer Matthew Dear became one of the most talked-about electronic artists of 2003 with his debut full-length Leave Luck to Heaven. The title, a loose translation of "Nintendo," only hints at the wealth of whimsy, wit, vitality and intelligence contained within the album's cardboard packaging. While Dear's beats are as funky and dance floor-friendly as they come, Leave Luck to Heaven boasts a giant heart and a sense of melody, narrative and timing that are distinctly pop. The twin influences of New Order and Detroit techno intersect here in key ways: like many of the other producers in the flourishing new subgenre known as microhouse, Dear is clearly drawn to the energy and rhythm of dance music but turned off by its tendency toward austerity and sterility. So the Detroit-based producer adds a human touch, including various distorted vocal melodies (many of them his own), to the hi hat-happy four-on-the-floor rhythms and synthetic string washes. The results are as personable as they are infectious. Dear is clearly a true sonic craftsman, with little interest in the orthodoxies of electronic music (frustrated with "live" laptop performances, he's recently begun experimenting his computer-generated music truly live -- that is, with a full band). What he's accomplished already is remarkable, but expect more great things in the coming years.