London-based producer Burial is the creator of some of the most intelligent and beautiful electronic music of the past 8 years. His 2007 LP Untrue solidified his place in the ‘noughties’ halls of fame and gave dubstep fanboys the perfect reason to get pretentious on YouTube. Now he’s back with his first offering since early 2012; released on Kode9’s Hyperdub imprint, this is Rival Dealer.
Opening with the title track, Burial’s unique touch is instantly recognisable. Wistful vocals and subtle bass tug relentlessly on the heartstrings, providing an emotional backdrop to the jittering break-beat clash. This is pure un-quantised jungle, thick with the splutter of analog imperfections. In his classic non-conformist way, Burial switches the track up halfway through, introducing an aggressive techno theme before moving to almost completely beat-less ambience.
‘Hiders’ shows off the producer’s softer side; essentially an RnB slow-jam, it could almost be mistaken for a Mariah Carey number. Gentle keys give way to a punch-dance beat, before once again the track disappears into eerie background noise. For the finale, ‘Come Down To Us’ sees a shift to hip-hop. Despite all its shimmer, the track initially has a seedy undertone, a gritty middle-eastern feel hidden within. Yet unfortunately, this is lost later as it descends into soppy chords and jingles.
At 28 minutes long, Rival Dealer is more an album than an EP. In terms of experimental ambience and original ideas it’s hard to beat, however it all feels a bit unnecessary. Then again, when has Burial ever relied on necessity?