Burial - Rival Dealer

‘Rival Dealer’ reaches astronomical heights, casting a foggy shadow of beauty over Burial’s previous, but now shattered framework.

Label: Hyperdub

Rating:

If there’s one element that defines ‘Rival Dealer’, it’s the element of surprise. Released with very little warning beforehand and shifting style somewhat dramatically, Burial’s latest is a wonderful reminder of what he is capable of. Ridding itself almost entirely of his signature clunking drums, the EP threatens to reinvent his sound completely, making it hard at points to pin this down as the same guy behind ‘Untrue’. It moves away from what many a critic will lazily refer to as Burial-esque, but still retains the throbbing heart that’s always sat at the centre of his music.

The fractured melodies and crackling ambience is still present, but this isn’t the type of music that’s likely to provoke arguments on what ‘true dubstep’ really is. Bottom line though, Burial doesn’t sound like dubstep or garage, Burial sounds like Burial. Disembodied vocal samples drift throughout, ominous tones draw deep breaths and a tar-black ambience permeates the whole release. ‘Rival Dealer’ reaches astronomical heights, casting a foggy shadow of beauty over Burial’s previous, but now shattered framework. Working with percussion mostly unfamiliar to his music, each track slowly unravels from an uneasy bludgeoning to fragile existential pondering. Shades of jungle quickly pass, before allowing something considerably more melancholy to surface.

The peaks that are built up to on ‘Rival Dealer’ are easily the prettiest moments in Burial’s discography, with the slow builds and progressive song structures only further assisting in this regard. But it’s ‘Come Down to Us’ that ascends the highest, providing us with yet another 13-minute opus. Opening with a ethereal vocal sample exclaiming ‘excuse me I’m lost’, the track seemingly shares the general intrigue his music and presence raises in most listeners. Further shrouded in mystery, ‘Rival Dealer’ questions everything that we thought Burial was, just when we all thought we had him figured out.