Have You Heard? Matthew Dear – Modafinil Blues

Nearly five years on from ‘Beams’, the producer is back and in a cerebral mood.

It’s been nearly five years since Matthew Dear released his last album ‘Beams’. What has he been up to in that time? Well, he’s done a bit of work under his techno alias, Audion, and apparently he’s been spending quite a bit of time hanging around California. His comeback single ‘Modafinil Blues’ was written in the state’s Topanga Canyon alongside long-time Frank Ocean collaborator Troy Nōka. Does that mean he’s decided to try his hand at a sound similar to ‘Blond’? Unsurprisingly, no.

Named after the cognitive-enhancing “smart drug”, ‘Modafinil Blues’ combines moody electronics, punctuated by intricate, skittering synths and a constantly pulsating heart, with Dear’s own, distinctive and powerful baritone. In that sense, it’s got a hint of Depeche Mode about it (probably unsurprising considering that Dear opened up for the cult legends on their 2013 arena tour).

Behind that pulse lies an existential, thought-provoking heart, one where Dear ponders the idea of being stuck in a rut, unable to move past a roadblock even after reaching the peak of cognitive function. “I run and I run but there’s nowhere left worth running to” he laments, unable to break past the barriers that are keeping him from progressing conceptually. But while in one sense ‘Modafinil Blues’ could possibly be the manifestation of Dear’s time spent between ‘Beams’ and now, it’s also a sign that he’s back, ready to continue making oscillating dance music while also giving a glimpse into his psyche.


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