Release Date: Dec 17, 2013
Record label: Hyperdub
The title track starts in the most Burial way possible, with ominous buzzing sounds, vinyl crackles and misplaced rave-era vocals that could have fit snugly onto his 2007 album ‘Untrue’. That’s as far as the stereotypes go, though: the beat that eventually kicks in is miles away from the woodblock shuffle now expected of Burial, and instead deploys the Soul Searchers’ classic ‘Ashley’s Roachclip’ break at breakneck speed. Shifting up a beat is transformative, and what comes next blows any Burial clichés away.
Few electronic artists from the last decade have been pigeonholed like William Bevan. Since the London producer behind Burial gained widespread attention with 2007's epochal second album, Untrue, listeners and critics alike have spoken of "the Burial sound"—pitched-down vocal samples, rustling noise, blocky garage rhythms in perpetual decay—as if it were straight gospel. This is partially Bevan's fault: four years passed before any new solo material saw release, which allowed plenty of time for Untrue's singular aura to seep into the collective consciousness.
Review Summary: Who are you?/This is who I am... You know my soundIt seems almost pedestrian at this point to preface a review for new Burial material by once again making reference to the conceptual underpinnings of William Bevan’s alter ego; music heard second hand has since been ritualised over and replicated like the last candle held up in recognition against the deafening onslaught of progression. Yet the lineage of rave culture is one that Bevan still belongs to, if even only by distant association – the continuum that’s permeated throughout every facet of UK dance music still trickles and bubbles along merrily, resurrected and bemoaned in equal abundance.
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’.
In the time between the new Burial EP suddenly being released and this review being written, Rival Dealer had already become the most divisive moment of Will Bevan's career. A clear change of direction from his post-Untrue material, this gorgeous, frequently poppy EP was already being criticised by fans who appear to want Bevan to retread his second album for the rest of his career. At least as forceful, however, were the voices of those ensnared by the emotional punch and unapologetic beauty of these three tracks.All three cuts unfold over more than one act, lending the release a mini-album feel.
Burial followed Truant almost exactly a year to the day with another mid-December EP that contains lengthy suite-like pieces. Compared to what preceded it, this is easily the producer's most emotional and story-like output. While it carries many of the expected Burial elements -- scuffed-up breakbeats, surface noise, near-silent passages, sampled vocalists made to sound angelic -- Rival Dealer is a significant departure.
The album may not be dead, but you wouldn't know it by looking at the career arc of William Bevan, the reclusive London producer better known as Burial. In the six years since 2007's Untrue, he's eschewed the LP format entirely, opting instead for a series of maxi-singles both as a solo artist and in collaboration with the likes of Four Tet, Thom Yorke, and Massive Attack. It's a shift that's been mirrored by Bevan's gradual loosening and deepening of his style, which once seemed wedded to a rigid formula: sandblasted vocal samples, delicate layers of ghostly ambience, and click-clacking 2-step rhythms full of glitchy hi-hats and syncopated rimshots.
The voices in Burial’s songs always seem to be gasping from the edges of pure longing. Lengthy and murky as they are, these movements usually pass as something more sterile than love songs: the scrounged-up debris of dance music collaged into arty, cerebral post-dub. But the shadowy English producer rarely shies from the hint of a romantic subject, a “you” he traces with phrases salvaged from his underground record collection.
Despite being prolific throughout his initial years, Burial seems to have slowed down of late, with no releases since early 2012. With Rival Dealer, he doesn't so much break the year and a half silence as he does chase it down an alley with a rusty implement and shatter it to smithereens. He accomplishes this through opening track "Rival Dealer," a haunting juggernaut that comes across as a vicious chase scene through a stark urban landscape.
Nobody makes electronic music swoon like Burial, who mixes sorrow and bliss in a subtle club sound that is both banging and bittersweet. The UK producer's legacy runs deep, lending emotional heft to a dubstep style others have made bombastic over time, and none of his more faithful followers manage to strike the same balance. Rival Dealer, Burial's fourth EP since his 2007 album Untrue, expands his palette of blacks and grays.
On his latest EP, Burial casts a spotlight on the once hushed lines of desperation and remorse that lingered in the backdrop of his small-hour urban soundscapes. The voices and characters who emerged from the woodwork of Untrue had only just begun to assume more commanding roles on the enigmatic UK artist’s most recent offerings, but on Rival Dealer, they take center stage. Confident and freely-spoken snippets of dialogue adopt the role of affiliates and subjects who shape the “anti-bullying message” of the EP, as well as the bulk of responses that Rival Dealer has ignited since its release.
opinion bySAMUEL TOLZMANN One of the last things we hear on Rival Dealer, the new EP from William Bevan, aka Burial, is a clip from Matrix and Cloud Atlas co-director Lana (formerly Larry) Wachowski’s Human Rights Campaign speech last year, during which she came out: “…I find the courage to admit that I am transgendered, and that this does not mean that I am unlovable. ” The clip is not distorted or pitch-shifted, it’s not shrouded in reverb, and Wachowski speaks in complete sentences. In other words, it’s not a typical Burial vocal sample (though Rival Dealer boasts dozens of those, too).
It would be too easy to dwell on the ominous parts of Doe B’s strong 2013 mixtape “Baby Jesus.” There are plenty of them. In the wake of his killing, at the age of 22, on Dec. 28 at a nightclub in his hometown, Montgomery, Ala., listening to those bits takes on new dimension, of course. But ….
It's fascinating how certain pieces of music fold themselves around your day-to-day existence, rendering you sensitive to things you might otherwise miss while lost within a cloud of mundane thoughts. Burial makes music for journeys: for gritty, ear-numbing strolls across frosty inner cities, for foggy morning walks across moors with hands thrust deep into anorak pockets, for gazing at your reflection in blackened windows on that by-now-stereotypical last bus home. The relentless evolution of Rival Dealer's sound patterns keeps you constantly on your toes; the opening rumbles of thunder and crackly gravel squelches on the title track are frequently indistinguishable from the landscape surrounding you, making it tough at times to tell music from reality.
Burial – Rival Dealer (Hyperdub)Burial’s new EP breaks years in a holding pattern, really dating back to the hoopla around his two albums in 2007 and his rise from the underground. Not that the holding pattern has been so bad. There’s been plenty of life in his basic formula, and if his popular profile guaranteed that electroniquistas on the frontier would lose interest, he seems to have gone about his business unconcerned with attention or backlash.