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Posted on December 24th, 2013 (12:00 pm) by Nick Manai

The kind of seedy, yet quietly beautiful, electronic music that Burial is associated with is wrapped in a mystique of coolness. Much of it stems from the textures that are constantly being uncovered and are suggestive of a certain level of elite status. But certainly something must be said for the lack of emotional contact the listener feels to the artist. Even when, and if, you ever hear their voices it is usually being employed more as an instrument than a tool to communicate feeling. Does anyone feel closer to knowing Nicolas Jaar, Tim Hecker or Axel Willner after this year? And to put that in perspective how much did we get from Win Butler and Régine Chassagne?

Shortly after Burial released Rival Dealer William Bevan released a short statement about the record which does more than reveal some kind thread connecting the songs. It places Bevan and his record in a acutely emotional light making the kinds of strong emotional attachments, that are sometimes only vague suggestions in electronic music, more concrete.

“I wanted the tunes to be anti-bullying tunes that could maybe help someone to believe in themselves,” Bevan wrote. Even the somewhat awkward double phrasing of tunes comes of as unpretentious and emotionally open.

Rival Dealer opens with its title track which finds us listening to, brace yourselves purveyors of coolness, a sample of Gavin DeGraw singing “I’m gonna love you more than anyone,” from his single “More Than Anyone.” The voice is distorted so far away from corny folk romanticism that it feels like a natural prelude into the furious drum loop Burial is about to send us on. It is as dangerous and violent a moment as you will find in 2013 and right there is Degraw’s vocals. The message could not be clearer. We all want the same basic things: to be loved and to believe in ourselves.

The EP is only three tracks, with “Hiders” and “Come Down to Us” clocking in at more than ten minutes. If “Rival Dealer” was a short punch destroying the boundaries of coolness, it is also a necessary set up, leveling the playing field, for the two celestial opuses that will follow. “Hiders” swells with anthem ambitions and levels out as a truly beautiful reaffirming moment.

“Come Down to Us” will be talked about in the already impressive Burial catalog for many years to come. Never picking up its pace to more than a heartbeat it’s dizzying synths float in and out of the landscape unraveling into accessible rock formatting that never losses the squalid sense of a Burial atmosphere.

“Come Down to Us” also features a vocal sample, but this one comes along as something much closer to what you would expect from a guy of Burial’s ambitions. The vocals sample an acceptance speech given by transgender filmmaker Lana Wachowski. It explores sexuality and self acceptance. As Burial’s haunting landscape soars alongside phrases pop out like, “This is who I am” and, “This is the moment when you see who you are.” It is the most direct reference to Bevan’s note but does not feel heavy handed. It surges with emotional textures but offers them to you on your own terms, letting you bring who you are to the sense of exposure.

Only Burial could have partnered Gavin DeGraw and Lana Wachowski into a perfectly integrated EP. That the EP serves as an anti-bullying EP only highlights the ambition of Burial’s unassuming work to integrate the base emotions and to contextualize them into celestially beautiful and violently degrading landscapes that are as different, but also as closely related, as the expressions of human culture.

Track List:
1. Rival Dealer
2. Hiders
3. Come Down to Us

Purchase at: Amazon | eMusic

Our Rating

80 / 100
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