The pandemic has given musicians time to rest, panic about finances, reflect and often times, look back at old demos / unreleased that wasn’t polished because of timing or the grind of the business. This has led to countless re-releases, finishing of older demos that were actually quite good, albums worth of material emerging from the shadows (today is a doozy) and older material finding a home in the blankness of a pandemic where traditional marketing plans were torn to shreds. Matthew Dear was one of those who reached into the vaults during the pandemic and out he came with a “new” album. He has released a project today Preacher's Sigh & Potion: Lost Album, first created back in 2008 and 2009, but never saw the light of day then. Now, over a decade later, it is being released by Ghostly International.
The album was made in 2008 and 2009 in between Texas and Detroit. He had released his 2007 avant-pop LP, Asa Breed just a year before and it was sending his career to new heights and in a different direction. The songs made for Preacher’s ended up getting shelved under the spotlight of Asa Breed and then his 2010 Black City, which put an album of guitar compositions into the vault.
The album was inspired by Emmylou Harris, as well as the fingerpicking guitar style of his own father with the Texas twang that he picked up as a native Southern Texas.
“On one trip down to Austin, I took some of my dad’s equipment and tried to lay out a song using what I knew about techno arrangement but use his guitars and various small instruments to layer a more organic loop-based sound. I’d say that was the beginning of this album. Realizing I could apply what I’d been doing in the computer to the other music I loved and grew up with,” explains Dear.
You get your first indication that this is quite different from the first few seconds on the “Muscle Beach” with its looped guitar and bluesy rock. Things can shift within this window of guitar and dusty country like on the despaired ode to awkwardness “Hikers Y” where he grumbles, “I could do without all the conversation, I was never good at conversating.”
The project doesn’t completely ditch techno and electronic music. There are small things like clicks or subtle electronic sounds in the background that provide depth and rhythm to these tracks that often don’t have obvious basslines. On “Crash and Burn” there is the addition of harmonica, but the urgency of the track comes from the electronic elements underneath.
Preacher's Sigh & Potion: Lost Album offers a very different side of Matthew Dear from the avant-pop or the club-ready techno that can emerge from one alias or another. In a strange year where the music business has been turned upside down, finding what is sometimes underneath can be quite helpful. Dear used that to unearth and unveil this album for a trip down dusty roads between Texas and Detroit. It is a glimpse into the influence of 60’s and 70’s guitar songwriters and his father in his music, which can be the most powerful thing of all.
Pick up your copy here and listen below.