You know, it’s actually quite tough reviewing Burial without reeling out the same predictable string of superlatives that have been doled out to him before. This is because what William Bevan achieves with each frustratingly delayed new Burial release, is to impeccably construct the exact same intricate environment, through the same sumptuous melding of 2-Step garage and dubstep, as he has done before… but always with meticulously arranged new flourishes. Honestly, if Burial decided he was going to release music every single week without fail until the day I die, and all of it sounded exactly like this, I’m not sure I’d ever get tired of listening to it. Now how do you like that for a string of superlatives?
I swear we’re getting spoilt in 2011. Four years of silence since the brilliant, bruised milieu that was Untrue and suddenly he springs two EPs in our faces in rapid succession. Admittedly, the first was not a solo project but the surprise two track collaboration with Four Tet and Thom Yorke. And, although that heavyweight trio may seem like a match made in ambient electro heaven I, well, dare I say this?… I can’t help wishing Burial would just take over in those tracks. Burial’s music is about living in the background, about being submerged beneath dense and impenetrable surroundings, and when listening to Ego and Mirrors I felt a yearning for the forlorn, suppressed vocal samples of Burial’s solo work. That’s right, even over Thom Yorke. Despite this, I still liked those two tracks.
Call me caught up in the present all you want, but Street Halo might be my favourite Burial song yet. Oh yeah, you heard me. Step aside Archangel, I’ve switched my gaze to that golden halo glowing brightly just a few inches above your head. On this track Burial enters House… and he brings it down; down to his world of sprawling urban gutters and dank ethereal streets. A Jonathan Swift poem for house party contorters. I usually reserve Burial listens for the ugly cotton-mouthed morning after, when my frazzled brain needs a touch of intimate coaxing to soothe it back to life. But the throbbing 4/4 beat is so insistent on Street Halo that I might almost be tempted to stick it on for a groove a full 12 hours earlier. And, of course, the mournful vocals, crackly static and shuffly beat fulfil my old Burial cravings nicely.
NYC is almost as excellent, brimming full of the obscured emotion that we’ve come to expect from Bevan. Arranged beautifully, as ever, the song moves through various evolutions of sighing synths and indecipherable vocal mewlings, before washing you up on a prickly wave of static, moved but somehow profoundly reassured.
Final track Stolen Dog captivates me least out of the three, but that’s not to say that I don’t love it. It might be partly down to the less urgent mid-tempo rhythm that I haven’t been so struck by this one, but the melody is still as gorgeous as a cuddly puppy; and in fact sounds like it might have a cuddly puppy’s doleful howls worked into the mix.
So, 2 EPs in a matter of weeks. Come on now Bevan, time to change those Es into an L please.
Ch-Check It Out If You’re Partial To – everything this dude has ever released; dub-step far removed from the wobby, rib rattling variety you get in most standard dub-clubs; music with the power to move you; House; 2-Step; ambient; spectral vocals aching to break free; fuzzy static nowhere near as annoying as the snowy kind you get from your television.
Fantastic Track – Street Halo