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Asa Breed Black Edition (Bonus Track Version)

Matthew Dear

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Album Review

Asa Breed furthers a seemingly happenstance shift to electronics-based indie pop that began on 2003's Leave Luck to Heaven and continued on 2004's Backstroke. Where the vocal tracks on those two albums sounded as if they began as instrumentals and just happened to benefit from lyrics and melodies thought up after the fact, there is an apparent deliberate attempt here at making songs. "Deserter" is the greatest example of Matthew Dear's gradual development as a writer, one of the most affecting songs he has made — full of dazed textures, a very direct beat, and a typically disconnected vocal, it doesn't seem built to move the listener in any way, but it unexpectedly grabs hold, not unlike Wire's most subdued and straightforward material (such as "The 15th" or "Heartbeat"). One thing that hasn't changed is the elusiveness of the lyrics: most of them could mean anything, or perhaps nothing at all, and what seems tossed-off could have some profound subtext. No matter the amount of effort Dear put into his lyrics, the sounds he makes with his voice still take precedence. A little exposure to his constantly morphing flat baritone goes a long way, even though it is used in so many ways; there's barely intelligible gibberish, singsongy semi-sneering, exaggerated David Byrne deadpan, whiny whispering, and a few other methods used to convey stories, self-examination, and in-jokes. (With its resemblance to Japan's "Visions of China," "Shy" could use a David Sylvian impersonation, but that is not so easy to pull off.) Since producing dancefloor tracks remains Dear's most natural talent, a few of the album's songs would just happen to be effective as instrumentals when played in certain clubs; the likes of "Neighborhood," "Don and Sherri," and "Fleece on Brain," when stripped of vocals, sound just like typical Dear productions, but they do bend toward the need of the song. If there is an unexpected aspect of the album, it's within the last quarter of the program, where there are three scruffy songs dominated by acoustic guitar. Lurching and rumbling away, Dear sounds in need of shade and water, susceptible to being knocked over by some stray tumbleweed. [Ghostly International's 2008 Black Edition featured alternate album art and four bonus tracks.]


Born: TX

Genre: Electronic

Years Active: '00s, '10s

It didn't take long for Matthew Dear to catapult himself into the front rank of microhouse producers, emerging in the early 2000s with a string of high-quality releases for Spectral Sound, Plus 8, and Perlon. Dear broke out in 2003 with the singsongy single "Dog Days," at once a DJ favorite and something of an indie crossover, and continued to switch between (and sometimes fuse together) track- and song-oriented material. He wasn't just a constantly evolving producer but...
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Asa Breed Black Edition (Bonus Track Version), Matthew Dear
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