Reclusive South London producer Burial has gained an almost legendary status via a series of top quality releases on Kode 9’s Hyperdub Records, but little new material has been heard since 2007’s seminal album Untrue. Last year’s release of the first new solo tracks in four years on the Street Halo EP whetted our appetite for more of Burial’s unique style. Kindred, released earlier this month, delivers exactly that.
Opening track Kindred offers up a lengthy slice of the atmospheric garage rhythms we’ve come to identify as the prominent feature of Burial’s sound. Lo-fi production values and natural percussion are the order of the day, with the scratchy shuffling syncopation breaking only to allow the echoing vocal cut ups to drift over the bridge. As with so much of Burial’s work, the central emotion here is yearning; the feeling that something beautiful is just out of reach.
Loner continues the EP on a decidedly darker tone, with a simple growling low end layered under a house beat. Again Burial defies the conventions; as soon as the energy of the track is built up via the arpeggiated lead, it is abruptly withdrawn. Unlike much of the work in the modern electronic arena this is not a record aimed at DJs, where so much of each track is ‘build up and break down’, extraneous fluff designed only to be half heard in the mix. This is a record to be listened to in its entirety, and a record deserving of your full attention.
Closing track Ashtray Wasp breaks from the Burial-mould significantly, leading with a muted 4/4 kick that brings to mind his excellent collaborations with Four Tet on 2009’s Moth/Wolf Cub 12”. The tone here is much more insistent, a definite, driving pulse running throughout the track, the stabbing synths and warmer bass combining with hypnotic melodies to create a different rhythm. Yet no matter how much at first glance this might seem to follow the template of a love letter to the dance floor, this is not the case. The track is broken frequently with hisses and silence, shifting tempo and style significantly around the eight-minute mark into a moodier, more sombre section.
The evolution of Burial’s style can be heard quite palpably across the three tracks here, with new experimentations across the board, from tempo to structure to the epic length of the tunes. Any concerns about laurels being rested on have been decisively assuaged, and all we are left with is yearning; yearning for more.
Henry Wilson writes for The Electro Blog and is a DJ and producer in Glasgow.