Matthew Dear may be a chameleon, but whether he's making more pop-oriented fare under his own name, big-room minimal as Audion or more rigorous minimalism as False, his discography reflects someone who is a studious observer of club culture. He's never made a habit of staking out new territory first, but his talent lies in knowing how to transform the strongest signatures of someone else's first steps into something he can work with.
The same can be said of Dear's DJ sets. While it's hard to say who he is as a DJ exactly, he's excellent at spotlighting the sounds of the moment. 2006's Fabric set—released under his Audion alias—was an austere outing, with the likes of Butane, Lee Curtiss and Mikael Stavostrand earmarking a bare-bones 77 minutes of the kind of functional minimalism that was in vogue that year.
But this is 2008 and everywhere you turn, minimal DJ's are getting deep and soulful, and people are beginning to grumble that the minimal scene is, well, too minimal. And so the core of Body Language 7 focuses on tracks that tease out controlled funkiness, congas, heavy breathing and the kind of innuendo-tainted vocals intent on clawing foreplay back onto supposedly sterile dance floors. Sascha Dive and Johnny D are on board for two tracks each, with the likes of Kid Sublime, Seth Troxler and others co-opting the habits of deep house along with some of the influences that first fed house music in the first place—a touch of diva here, a taste of polyrhythm there.
The rest of the mix is fleshed out with the kind of leftfield minimal producer who never had much interest in sticking to a strict definition of the genre: Koze, Radio Slave, I:Cube, Dear himself. DJ Koze features twice, with "Zou Zou" coming in midway and "I Want to Sleep" driving home the mix's finale, and Radio Slave's anthemic remix of Mlle Caro & Franck Garcia's "Dead Souls" bringing the set back to essentials nine tracks in.
Dear's mixing skills have never been exceptionally showy, and as a result the transitions here are for the most part sturdy, efficient and workmanlike. It's a set that doesn't take too many chances, instead offering a portrait of what made dance floors move in 2008. So while we may be no closer to understanding Dear as DJ, Body Language 7 still works as a worthy anthology for the producers who made clubs a little bit funkier this year.
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Tracklist: Matthew Dear - Body Language Vol. 7 01. Dinamoe - The Green French One (Original Mix)
02. Kalabrese - Cityblues
03. Sascha Dive - Street Life (Samuel Davis Dark Groove Remix)
04. Kid Sublime - Basement Works Vol. 1
05. Johnny D - Orbitalife
06. Martinez - Retrospective
07. Diz - No Way
08. Johnny D - Tramodyssee
09. Mlle Caro & Franck Garcia - Dead Souls (Radio Slave Long Distance Kiss Mix)
10. Prompt - Ambee
11. DJ Koze - Zou Zou
12. I:Cube - Gtnup
13. SoulPhiction - Traffic Lights
14. Two Armadillos - Hamlin (Sascha Dive's Secret Dub)
15. Seth Troxler & Patrick Russell - Doctor of Romance
16. Even Tuell - Untitled B1
17. DJ Koze - I Want to Sleep
18. Basti Grub - Baaa Niii
19. Matthew Dear - Free To Ask (Body Language Exclusive Track)
20. Lorenzo - Get Deep
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