It was a bit of a surprise and not-so-much a surprise yesterday when Kode 9 announced, in rather last-minute fashion, that Burial would release a new EP on Hyperdub this Monday, and that 2 of the 3 tracks would premiere on Benji B’s Radio 1 show last night. Considering the resumption of activity in last week’s collaborations with Four Tet and Thom Yorke (see our review), it almost seemed inevitable that a return was on the horizon. Although maybe not this soon.
What’s good is that the new tracks, like all of Burial’s other solo output, are pretty stunning. Steet Halo seems reminscent of the eponymous solo album, with a ploughing bassline, industrial 2-step clicks and a far-eastern sounding echo refrain. Texture is pretty much what makes Burial’s music, and this track resumes his trademark dark atmospherics and lost/half word vocals, painting a solid, untouchable and daunting urban landscape.
But my preferred track is Stolen Dog, which builds on a simple, woozy and buzzy synth line pretty dissimilar to the familiar samples/echoes which dominate a lot of his previous work. This refrain gives a solid meditative basis for Burial to demonstrate some of his best moves: beats half-drop, rain pours/doesn’t pour, doors shut and pitch-shifted voices with terrified declarations are lost in the darkness. Not to mention the bassline is absolutely solid, providing a perfect grounding for the fragmented whole.
The track mixes the best elements of the first two albums, adding the sentimentality/nostalgia of the second album with the more spacey soundscapes of the first, as well as picking up on some of the more hypnotic elements picked up on in the collaborations with Four Tet. I’m very excited.