Release Date: Nov 30, 2016
Record label: Hyperdub
Genre(s): Electronic, Dubstep
Surprise released at the end of November in 2016, Burial's Young Death / Nightmarket carries the distinction of being Hyperdub's 100th catalog entry. Like the elusive artist's previous EPs, the two tracks here are filled with crackling sounds, pitch-shifted voices, and subdued atmospheres. They play like dream sequences rather than club tracks, and this one is less dance-minded than most Burial releases.
Few artists get to define their genre. From Kraftwerk to Tangerine Dream. Aphex Twin to Massive Attack. Only certain acts get to leave their indelible stamp to an extent where the very mention of that genre is swiftly followed by the name of one, definitive artist. Inevitably, this can prove to be ….
"I will always be there for you," wafts the vocal on "Young Death," returning to Burial's irresistible comfort zone. Prior to this 12-inch, William Bevan had been edging outside of his. On "Sweetz," this year's collaboration with Zomby, and 2015's "Temple Sleeper," released on Keysound, an unusual urgency emerged. Both tracks failed to convey the urban filigree that Bevan has previously sculpted with such care, so Young Death / Nightmarket feels like a gentle resetting of the course."Young Death" begins with the spark of a lighter, and then ushers you into an unusual time of day for Burial: sunrise.
In the years following the 2007 release of the most recent Burial album, Untrue, we barely heard from the London producer born William Bevan. There was a 12” a couple of years later that found him collaborating with Four Tet, but nothing in terms of solo material until the 2011 EP Street Halo. With that release, what seemed at first to be a diversion until the next full-length came along turned out to be something more significant: Burial was shaping his music to fit a new format and finding inspiration in its limitations.
Since their accidental distribution on Black Friday's Record Store Day at Toronto's Sonic Boom, the new Burial release has taken industry press by storm — this is the most coverage the sample aficionado has received since classics like "Nova" and his LP, Untrue. That said, it's difficult to gauge whether the 12-inch single warrants a similar, overwhelmingly positive critical reception. "Young Death" and "Nightmarket" revive all the familiar stylistic trappings that are native to masterpieces like Untrue, only with a demure interest in arpeggiated synths and their ability to steer tracks with only scattered percussion.
One of the last great survivors of attempted anonymity, Burial prefers to be known by his music. So much so, that when he felt his anonymity was getting in the way of his music, he casually posted a photo and greeting through an online publication and on his Myspace page. It was the opposite of attention grabbing and thus the opposite of 2016. It was 2008, though, and refreshing to see a talent so ripe and a spotlight so refused.
Every Friday, pop critics for The New York Times weigh in on the week’s most notable new songs and videos — and anything else that strikes them as intriguing. You can listen to this playlist on Spotify here. Like this Playlist? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org, and sign up for our Louder newsletter (coming soon!) here. The electronic musician who calls himself Burial deals in blurry, melancholy, ominous implications.