Critical praise is meaningless unless you have the skills to back it up. Fortunately for Ann Arbor's Matthew Dear (aka Audion, False and Jabberjaw), his music lives up to the hype. Dear's 2003 release, Leave Luck to Heaven, cemented his status as the bright young star of microhouse. Subsequent singles and 2004's Backstroke continue to pump thumping bass, funky minimal rhythms, a touch of dubby sound manipulation and enough melody to draw in all kinds of listeners. Dear has found a home at Detroit's Spectral Sound, an offshoot of Ghostly International and home to fellow Live users Selway, Ectomorph, Geoff White, Dykehouse and Tadd Mullinix (aka Dabrye, James T. Cotton, SK1).
Going to a Matthew Dear show is a get-down guarantee, and Dear's particular performance setup is possible due to Ableton Live: "I use Live as the centerpiece of my live performances. Using an audio card with multiple outs, I route separate channels of Live into channels on an Allen & Heath CTRL:92 mixer. I like to treat my loops and tracks like a DJ would, mixing between samples with the mixer and utilizing the EQs like a DJ. This mixer was designed specifically to work with Live. Its ability to send MIDI information as well as auxiliary routing of sends and returns can yield any number of possibilities when creating a set."
Dear doesn't confine his use of Live to the stage, nor does he stick solely to electronic-based music: "I experiment with guitar and live music recording. When I first got my copy of Live 4, I plugged a microphone into my system and did some very loop-based acoustic recordings on the fly. It was fun to ad-lib the parts and keep adding new tracks on top of each other. It was kind of like working with old tape loops and really just experimenting with odd rhythms and vocal noises."
Whatever the situation, it comes down to having tools with multiple uses: "Live is such a versatile piece of software that almost everyone I meet who uses it has their own adaptation of the software's capabilities. Live takes what used to be hours and hours of cable and instrument routing and puts everything in layman's terms, allowing almost anyone to generate music within five minutes of initializing the program."
For Matthew Dear, it's all about simplicity, versatility and the ability to make bodies move.