Dramatic stylistic turns are nothing new for Matthew Dear. Over two decades into his career, the songwriter and DJ is surely one of few individuals who can be said to have released excellent micro-house (Leave Luck to Heaven, Backstroke) and avant-pop (Asa Breed, Beams) within the span of a few years. One wonders exactly how many lost works there might be scattered throughout Dear’s prolific career. Delivered to Ghostly International on a CD-R in 2009 and shelved for being a tad too different for Dear’s avant-pop phase, Preacher’s Sigh and Potion is nevertheless a prescient document of exactly where he was headed.
That Preacher’s Sigh and Potion was developed and written between Dear’s home state of Texas and his adopted Detroit seems fitting given its propensity to explore aspects of what each place is celebrated for: respectively, guitars and techno. The bluesy sensibilities of Townes Van Zandt and Emmylou Harris give the likes of ‘Muscle Beach’ and ‘Crash And Burn’ a troubadours’ twang, creaking with the wood and steel of slide guitars. Vintage country melodies in the vein of Bill Callahan are recalled in Dear’s deadpan wit, accompanied by synthesised hypnotism and drum machine rhythms on the electronically-enhanced ‘Supper Times’ and the luscious ambient skitter of ‘Gutters And Beyond’.
We’re left wondering exactly how Preacher’s Sigh and Potion spent so long in limbo; it’s a perfect showcase of Dear’s ability to do just about anything, even when he’s freewheeling without a care in the world.