od bless the conservative social critics who have been decrying ‘lewd’ dancing for as long as any living person can remember. With Bill O’Reilly recently unleashing upon those who dance in “Kama-Sutra positions to the beat of rap and techno music,” this is a cultural meme that will probably die only when we all decide to become celibate.
And God bless Matthew Dear, who under the pseudonym Audion, has taken these criticisms to their logical conclusion. Whether titles like “Just Fucking,” “Titty Fuck,” and “Your Place or Mine” are tongue-in-cheek or tongue-in-every-bodily-orifice, the effect is the same. His recent album, Suckfish, is a dirty mechanistic affair. But this is no one-note dry-heave of techno bangers.
Confounding the expectations of both the casual listener and Dear devotee, Suckfish provides both a sound and methodology distinct from Dear’s previous releases. Most will, of course, remember the wide-eyed euphoria of “Dog Days” or the lost-love narrative from the forlorn Bowie-isms of his mini-LP Backstroke. The Audion alias was seen as a way back to “prurient” techno, as evidenced by his early singles under the name. But on Suckfish, this tale comes with a twist. With half of the songs on the album already released as acid-laced mania, Dear surprisingly decides upon a more subtle route in finishing the album. Instead of pummeling the listener into a vapidity that plagued his last Audion single (“Just Fucking”), the album’s new songs serve as an apt counter both in sound and sequencing.
Beginning with a saw-tooth tug and heavily filtered domestic story of bodily harm, “Vegetables” is an uncanny introduction that provides a prelude to “Your Place or Mine”’s bridging of electro-house and Space Invaders. In the same manner, “Uvular” provides the final breather before the album’s intense closure by re-imagining the sound-scape of the movie Alien, conceiving a lost bio-technological nightmare uttering its first phonemes. Haunting the mid-section of Suckfish, “Weild” conflates the sound of Dear’s minimal pseudonym (False). The song’s off-kilter deceleration runs counter to the majority of the album. While you’d expect the song as a final send-off to an album littered with claustrophobic tracks like the kick-in-your-head drum of “Just Fucking,” Dear drops it smack-dab in the middle. It’s this type of sequencing that punctuates the best moments of Suckfish.
And those moments are definitely chock-full. Despite the aimless “T.B.,” tracks like “Titty Fuck” and “The Pong” take their sweet time to burrow into your skull and accept nothing less than submission. Similarly, “Kisses” and “Taut” both sway hypnotically. The former uses a stumbling square wave and the latter a dubbed series of hi-hats to maintain a mind-state that could easily fluctuate between the polar opposites of concentration and swoon.
While Suckfish as a whole certainly punctures the sound byte-friendly “id-on-the-rampage” that earlier singles had hinted at, Audion as a skyscraper-destroying / women-imbibing monster would have probably resulted in a lesser album. By refocusing outside of dancefloor functionality for Suckfish, Dear invests in his material enough to give it a weight beyond the novelty of sensationalized titles set to jacking tracks. Instead, we’ve been given a work that will definitely survive a couple more years of ‘lewd’ dancing debates.