Matthew Dear made his name as a techno artist when few Americans under 35 could be said to have a name in electronic music of any kind. It helped that he lived near Detroit, where techno's creation story starts, and it didn't hurt, around 2003, that he happened to be a strapping lad with something other than a shaved head and architect glasses. But Dear's rise owed primarily to his unique sound, which married the mannered, finicky programming of nascent minimal-techno to the kind of emotive murmurs favored by kids who grew up with records by The Cure and Depeche Mode.
Dear continues to mine that sound, even under his tracky techno aliases Audion and False. The first one broke big last year with "Mouth To Mouth," a vertiginous banger that counted among the season's more disorienting club anthems. Audion's success raised the stakes for Asa Breed, which figured to be a paradigm-shifter if it could bring the same sense of scale to the songs that Dear stares down under his given name.
They're very much "songs," with Dear's voice in the foreground and beats buried below. "Fleece On Brain" and "Neighborhoods" suggest something else at the start, with an opening one-two big on rhythmic punch, but "Deserter" proves more typical with its murky goth swirl and husky vocal tones. Indeed, much of Asa Breed sounds like TV On The Radio with more exacting production and a more pensive disposition. The former falls in line the way it should in the hands of a techno producer, but the latter prevents Asa Breed from shifting any paradigms the way it might have.