Burial: Rival Dealer (Hyperdub)
(CD, LP, DL)
Released nearly a year to the day after the outstanding Truant / Rough Sleeper, Rival Dealer takes that releases structure and idealism to a whole new level, developing a new electronica language and creating the most emotive music in the Burial canon.
The three songs on this EP exude warmth and honesty and whilst the musical palette is broader than previous releases, there is still enough of the original Burial feel and textures in the mix to excite fans of his original releases.
Starting with the title track, Rival Dealer bursts into life full of distortion, tape hiss and dissonance. One of the more brutal and brilliant tracks William Bevan has ever created, Dealer is at once a rave anthem whilst also being beautifully melancholic and heartfelt. The main body of the track comes on like an updated Jilted Generation-era Prodigy track, but replacing that albums cold steel feel for one of confusion and grit. Like the previous EP, Bevan employs more vocals which start by stating love for another before finishing with five minutes of ambience and a statement of love for oneself, which is a theme that runs throughout the EP and one that is more blatant on the Dealer’s closing track Come Down To Us. More of which later…
Second track, Hiders, is one of the most surprising moments in Burial’s career to date. Though he has always shown a penchant for club anthems (see Spaceape from his self titled debut album, or Raver from his seminal second album Untrue), Bevan has never fully given us an all out early 90s Happy Hardcore track, but he manages to pull this off here with aplomb. Hiders is proving to be very divisive for the Burial fanbase, but in producing a track like this, Bevan has shown he still has a knack for surprising his audience, and also a steely determination not to be pigeonholed into making a certain type of music. Hiders is E-cstatic and in its N-Trance Set You Free feel (trust me, that’s a good thing) the listener is instantly transported to a club / warehouse / field full of MDMA-zment and love. Delightfully playful, Hiders is a track guaranteed to put a smile on your face and a skip in your step.
Bringing us back into the dark, the EP closes with Come Down To Us. A ten-minute strutting beast that lets the listener settle into its grooves as it envelopes you and brings you into its world. Feeling very much like a follow-up to his work with Massive Attack, Us introduces more vocals into a Burial track than on any previous release and this time the lyrics really seem to have a point to make. Full of “Don’t be afraid” and “It’s about sexuality..” spoken word interjections, and playing out with a section of transgender filmmaker’s Lana Wachowski’s speech while receiving the Human Rights Campaign visibility award in 2012, this is Bevan revealing more of himself than ever before. Plenty of theories have been thrown out there with what point Bevan is trying to get across here, but the underlying feeling is one of empowerment and of an artist reaching out to his fanbase and any of those that are feeling vulnerable or alone.
With the Rival Dealer EP, William Bevan has gone farther than ever before in his career. Every emotion is laid bare for the listener to take from it what they will. In this day and age when every detail of every person can be found somewhere it is a stroke of genius that he can release music that is at once personal, revealing, and heartfelt, yet still retain enough mystery to keep people guessing and wanting more and more. If the EPs keep on this trajectory, and the quality keeps leaping forward like it has done, people thirty years from now will be speaking of the Burial catalogue as one of the most important in electronica and with this release, Bevan has sealed his place in the lineage of masters such as Aphex Twin, Four Tet, Eno, and Kraftwerk.
This release is essential (I bet you wish you hadn’t already submitted your end-of-year lists early eh).