2013’s Rival Dealer is one of the finest releases in Burial’s post-Untrue discography. A three-track EP that still clocks in at close to thirty minutes in length, this record sandwiches the haunted illbience of ‘Hiders’ between the lengthy multi-movement works ‘Come Down To Us’ and ‘Rival Dealer’. The longer tracks are just so impressive, using Burial’s sombre garage sound as a base from which to bring in drone and a streetwise take on Boards Of Canada’s twinkling electronica.
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I’m sure it was this time last year that Burial released his last 12”? Well he’s back for a second bash at the Christmas number one spot with three tracks on 180g wax and CD.
‘Rival Dealer’ has all the hallmarks of his dusty production sound and like his previous release has a more maximalist sound than his early productions. It’s kinda like Burial does ‘92 hardcore with uptempo breakbeats, lots of crackly scratchy sounds and a driving darkside bassline. I used to think he just sampled female vocals from old garage records but now I’m not so sure. It’s possible he actually works with a female vocalist but who knows. Also like the ‘Truant/ Rough Sleeper’ 12” this stops and starts and is like a few different tracks kinda bolted together but somehow it retains a sense of continuity. There are some intriguing samples about sexuality and in there too which I’ll leave to The Sun newspaper to speculate about. When all is said and done I rather like it and reckon it’d sound mint over a club system.
‘Hiders’ is well melancholy and bizarrely has a sort of christmas ballad flavour to it or is it just me feeling a touch of pre-christmas blues? Well it’s not exactly East 17’s ‘Stay Another Day’ but I do get that vibe from it. It also has an 80’s almost Italo disco 4/4 beat. Not so sure about this tune but it’s certainly an unexpected departure of sorts.
‘Come Down To Us’ is also a shift stylistically but retains that lost searching feeling Burial nails so well. Essentially I suppose it’s modern fractured soul music with lots of pretty chimes, a touch of auto tune and a dynamic arrangement. It’s unmistakably Burial; the same but different and somewhat of a bold statement.
5/10 Laurie J 9th July 2014
Continuing his series of annual bitesize beats with ‘Rival Dealer’, everyone’s favourite man-behind-the-curtain Burial begins to peep out from behind his gloomy anonymity. While abundant with familiar elements – the dusty speech samples, broken drums and post-rave synths – this EP sounds a lot more up-front. The Big Beat worship of title track ‘Rival Dealer’ begins as a familiar nostalgic mutation of a lost style before moving closer to being a genuine part of 90s rave, with a synth bass that drops in at the halfway mark that’ll tear you to bits.
Much like the contrast between 2012’s ‘Truant’ and ‘Rough Sleeper’, the latter duo on ‘Rival Dealer’ present a brighter William Bevan, almost to the point of being ecstatic. ‘Hiders’ showers you with hands-in-the-air chords and vocal chops before launching into an 80s beat that unfortunately is a bit of a sore thumb. The lovely synth ripples continue for the rest of the record, sometimes so strongly that it borders on cheese pop on the tired ‘Come Down To Us’.
By the end of ‘Rival Dealer’, it is clear that Burial is starting to shed the mystery that shrouded his earlier work. While this may seem like the inevitable cry of “oh no, not change,” it feels like Burial is moving too quickly in a direction which is just too easy. Ultimately, this proves that Burial is perhaps more unpredictable than we thought, and no doubt we’ll have another surprise next Christmas.
9/10 David 9th March 2014
What to say about this record? Listening to it, and especially the lengthy B side of the short Hiders and the 13 minute Come down to us, frequently leaves me speechless. Remember the clip of Alex James after listening to Tommy Reilly's totally unexpected cover of Mr Brightside on some TV talent show? That's how I feel. Not quite crying but just totally blown away at what I've just heard. The samples speak of loss, confusion, terror. They build up into a soundscape that is profound and haunting, and so multi-layered that even after multiple listens I feel there's more to discover. The record finishes with one of the most unexpected samples I've ever come across on a 'dance music' record. It's the icing on the cake of a track that just blows away all the cliches of this type of music. Whatever type of music you like I challenge you not to be affected by this record. And make sure you buy it on vinyl so you get your own little crackles to add to those Burial incorporated himself!
10/10 lee 14th January 2014
The dark knight strikes again and takes us on a wonderful musical journey. Undoubtedly creative as only few producers can do nowadays, Burial returns with a beautiful EP made up of three brilliant tracks. Amazing melodies,soundtracky atmospheres,vibrant beats and some messages we can interpret in different ways.There are three different moments that show some remarkable shifts in the ways the producer experiences his world but they are totally connected to a unified meaning.It might be the revelation of a change or the statement of a countinuous research of the key to "gain access to other rooms,other worlds previously unimaginable". Having the power of shaping a sound that is so unique, Burial takes us to something special indeed.
Listening to the EP, we never know what we are in for but it's clear we are totally involved in. Although different the genres employed, the three tracks have to be listened as a whole. Haunting hardcore beats and slammin' basslines, far cries and not so distant lights anymore, combined in a perfect synthesis in the title track, an early Uk underground 90 sound trip which opens with an interesting sample from "1983...A Merman I should turn to be " from J.Hendrix. Surprisingly, Burial introduces an 80's italo-disco beat in "Hiders",the shortest track of the EP, underlined by the appreciating depht of lo-fi modulation.Needless to say, I never thought he could do it but that's really far from annoying us. "Come down to us" is definitely one of the best tracks he ever made. The mesmerizing synth, the fascinating and lush sitar,the connection of the nice vocal samples,emphasized by an elegant trip-hop beat,make a combined excellence which constitutes the peak of its sublimity.Finally, I seriously think "Rival Dealer" will be a transitional EP and that so many other emotions will be given by Burial because, whatever he does,there's something striking that moves us. Enlightened.
6/10 Signus 9th January 2014
I pre-ordered this prior to hearing any audio just as an avid Burial fan but I must say, similarly to the previous "Truant "EP, I'm split opinion wise on this one. For me the A side has all of the goods, with two cracking dark techno infused pieces emerging amongst the extended track. The B side on the other hand, whilst refreshingly different and certainly a foray into uncharted territory, grates on me and in parts makes me cringe. The melodies, vocal samples and generally optimistic mood of the pieces on the B side just aren't really my cup of tea and are miles apart from the brooding Burial of old. Glad I picked this up if only for the A side though.
7/10 emjay 4th January 2014
Not a bad release, however i feel with such a distinctive sound Burial has put himself in a bit of a musical corner. The production is excellent but the over-use of the similar vocal samples may be getting a bit tiresome. Understandably an artist needs to branch out somewhat and with the choppy / speeder drums on the lead track he succeeds, only to be let down by the drawn-out monologue on the final offering. All in all a good taster for a possible direction change; not too drastic and a little bit "safe" otherwise.
10/10 Gareth 15th December 2013
I've been laughing a lot the last week. Luaghing at the hyperbole and comments all over the net about this, Burial's new record. This has perhaps been the most talked about, divisive interesting and from my point of view, life affirming 30 minutes of music to come out this year. At least it's not about bloody Kanye or whoever. And that's saying something. I love the way the music messes with your mind, at once off kilter and incomplete, yet full and rammed with those sheer heart stopping moments that Burial has always been capable of. This time around the palette is not south London Boroughs, Grime, council estates, Garage, House, Rave culture, lights in the dark, going home, catching the last bus or train, having a smoke, standing in the rain.... This one's a widescreen almost 'pop' record, albeit an unhinged and loose collection of movements that stop/start with flashes of pure unbridled optmism and joy, a new shade, in familiar colours, with gun reload clicks. It's not possible to pick out individual tracks because the whole thing works beautifully as one. Vocal samples spill and tumble, near and far. Those 'glowing' moments that light up the darkness coating the whole thing in a dismebodied grace that sounds almost regal. There are crystalline synthesizers, chromium drum patterns recycled from other decades. We are not alone. The short version is that Bural has crafted something different, it's powerful, clever and quite brave. It wrong foots the listener at every turn and manages to pack in some profound moments that few musicians seem to be capable of managing these days, It also gives a large two fingered salute to the die hards who complain that Burial is 'their' fave and should stick to remaking 'Untrue' over and over again, something that a few copycat artists seem content in doing ad nauseum (stand up Velor Flex) For this we should applaud these efforts. And I am intruiged to see and hear what happens in the next chapter of the story. Beautiful.
10/10 uxia 13th December 2013
Ok, I think Burial started to amaze the world back in 2006 or something like that. I was underaged, no internet or credit card. All the music that I listened to was the old vinyl collection from my mother (jazz, classical, Cohen, Dylan, Cat Power, ...) and some stuff that my godfather recommended me (he introduced me to Moby). I first heard of Burial at the conservatory, my piano teacher was a big fan of electronic music (unbelievable, right?) . I remember bringing him the cd back back and telling "this is weird, I think I get it, but I haven't heard something like this before. He must be a famous guy". Years passed, and I got more music by myself. I started to swim into this electronic weirdos, and I loved Burial, not only because I don't know who the fuck he is, but for his music, even if it seemed to me that his music was being made in some factory, it had soul. I think Burial's discography is like a tree, you can't interact with them, and know their needs, but they're still living creatures, with cells, proteins, chemistry, and physics ... "Rival Dealer" is alive. And spending 24 hours listening to his new EP, I have realized that the tree had flowers, and now they've blossomed. I love it's color, and I love all that what Burial has shown in this 3 tracks. Now I ask myself if this synth flowers will become a fruit, let's see what spring brings us.
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