Matthew Dear could never be accused of staying in his lane or playing the conservative. During more than a decade in the electronic underground he’s touched on Afrobeat, mastered minimalist techno, and used the strictures of dance music to create techno-tinged tracks that don’t really feel like techno. On Headcage EP, Dear shucks techno almost entirely for shifting, ambient soundscapes that might herald yet another change in artistic direction.
“Headcage” opens the EP with a tranquil beat and cottage-industrial hiss, complete with such soothing party lyrics that the song feels like a dream of a slow motion rave in the woods. “In The Middle (I Met You There)” finds Dear’s baritone playing off the Bowie-esque strainings of The Drums’ Jonny Pierce to create a fuzz-pop chestnut that ranks among the best in Dear’s catalog. The woozy aimlessness of “Street Song”, and the slow-building hiss and mumbled vocals of “Around A Fountain”, leave a bit to be desired from EP’s second half, however.
Dear’s mercurial nature is on full display with Headcage EP and it provides ample reason to check out his forthcoming album, even if it doesn’t give a good idea of where Dear will go next.