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Matthew Dear - Body Language, Vol. 7

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Artist: Matthew Dear

Album: Body Language, Vol. 7

Label: Get Physical

Review date: Nov. 25, 2008

In a recent interview with Self-Titled Magazine, Matthew Dear discussed his selections for Body Language, Vol. 7 with an almost dismissive wave. “I sure as hell don’t listen to blip blap bang at home, and neither should you.” Maybe two years ago, you might have gotten away with indulging in ‘blip blap bang’ (let’s call that minimal, for short) exclusively, but now everyone’s turned on the genre and jumped the fence for deep house revivalism, who’d want to make the bleary-eyed confession? If Matias Aguayo’s called it dead in the water, maybe it’s over.

Or maybe not: the great thing about Body Language, Vol. 7 is that Dear finds a way to make minimal and deep cohabit. I’ve heard plenty of mixes this year that take a few risks but keep true to their original goal, which ultimately means they’re homogenous with caveats. But Dear’s mix sits nicely between two stools, which might make it a bit wishy-washy at times (there are no outrageous peaks or stretches of uncanny in the mix), but it’s never less than engaging. Dear’s mixing reflects this too, being steadfast, reliable, and consistent. The transitions are fine, and the selections are respectable, if lacking a little in the surprises department.

This isn’t to say Body Language, Vol. 7 lacks character. Dear does a good job of balancing functional tracks with more idiosyncratic numbers, as with the opening cuts, where Dinamoe’s low-level chug, all trickling treble patterns and boundless propulsion, makes way for the spoken-word babble and spare, parsed funk of Kalabrese’s “Cityblues.” One of Dear’s skills is his ability to measure out the surrealism across the mix, as he’s well aware that too much wackiness turns albums or mixes into teeth-gritting exercises in trite. Humor, yes; goofball, no. Indeed, the centerpiece of the mix, DJ Koze’s “Zou Zou,” manages to cover both the functional and idiosyncratic angles at once, its irresistible, sashaying groove carried by an ethnic music loop that Koze spins around his fingers like a twirling drumstick, rubbing it against fidgety arpeggios.

"Zou Zou" starts an excellent run of tracks, through I:Cube’s ticklish, trebled-out "Gtnup,” and Soulphiction’s "Traffic Lights,” where gorgeously warm pads swim underneath percussion that’s fidgety and hyperactive, tambourines, hi-hats and bongos moving together in formation. Seth Troxell & Patrick Russell’s "Doctor Of Romance" slips by soon enough, building on the percussive complexity of Soulphiction but adding breaths that spin around your headphones as though they’re lassoing your ears, while mumbled asides refract in their own delay patterns. Gorgeous stuff, of course – though at this point one question begged an answer: While Body Language, Vol. 7 is a lovely listen, what’s it all for? Maybe I’ve been swamped by fair-to-middling mix discs lately, but I think it’s fair to expect more than the taste-makers’ choice in the mix – something unexpected wouldn’t go astray.

By Jon Dale

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