Sunday, March 18, 2012

burial: kindred ep (hyperdub)

It’s been just over a month since the release of Burial’s latest on Hyperdub and the inevitable critical shitstorm it kicked up on the web. Superlatives heaped on superlatives. Everyone did their best to drop as many references as possible to hauntology, psycho-geography, rave-nostalgia, and rainy nights in London. And all the while, as the blogosphere went into critical meltdown, it became increasingly clear that hardly anyone actually cared what made this record interesting or different at all. Burial-the-Artist was what really got peoples’ juices flowing, and the Kindred EP was simply a convenient excuse for a gigantic, collective jack-off session. The Quietus even ran a not-entirely-tongue-in-cheek competition on its Facebook page as to which review was the “wankiest.” (Pitchfork took the title.)

But the Kindred EP is different, and it does constitute a development in Burial’s sound. It’s also certainly worthy of the hype, but the reason why isn’t of the kind you’d expect. That is, there’s nothing especially different about the sonic language on offer here: the EP still sounds like Burial. Sure, there are some new samples — the ‘bellowing thunderstorm’ at the start of the title track — the beats being used/’referenced’ tend to sink a little further back in the mix; and occasionally — shock horror! — a vocal is left almost entirely untreated. There’s also an intriguing moment at the start of “Ashtray Wasp” where (for the first time?) Burial seems to refer to himself in addition to the rave tradition, redeploying a figure that originally appeared on Untrue’s “Endorphin”: echoes of echoes of misheard echoes. But all these differences feel small, incremental, modest somehow. The real progression on the Kindred EP relates to Burial’s use of musical time and space...

Head to TMT for the full breakdown.

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