Published Dec 16, 2013Despite 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. The track begins with all of Burial's trademark elements — clean, distant drums, brooding bass, vintage crackle — which then wind down briefly before unleashing an industrial, pace-quickening beat that serves as a swift kick in the face, and then once again changes direction, descending slowly with an angelic lament. This "lane-changing" trait reappears throughout the EP, to the extent that the three tracks are more like eight when you count the switch in tone and tempo that each song undergoes.
The other two tracks, "Hiders" and "Come Down to Us," fail to hold up the weight of the EP's opener. While both songs pass through interesting areas they're overloaded with mawkishness. Burial's tracks have always sounded sentimental, but it was usually contrasted with caustic backdrops that gave them some bite; on these two tracks, it's the missing element. (Hyperdub)