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White Noise: Burial – Street Halo

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Burial – Street Halo

I wouldn't normally review a single of only three tracks, but this isn't just anyone, it's Burial. He's been off the radar for almost 4 years apart from a few collaborations (including the stunning Moth/Wolf Cub collab with Four Tet), and the question on everyone's lips is; is he still something special?

From listening to these three tracks, the answer is a resolute yes. Marking a slight movement towards more traditional house beats, title track Street Halo is a straighter cut than any of the material on Untrue. The layers of paranoia are gone but the listener is still left with a surprisingly strong sound that switches its focus in classic Burial style every so often. He's using all the same materials that create his distinctive tone but somehow he's reappropriated them to make not something miles away, but something that is certainly different enough to be worth individual evaluation. Second cut NYC is more of a throwback to his past atmospheres, with those distinctive drums and the slight bass drops that just about allow the ghostly vocal echoes in once every so often. Both tracks are huge and rich, he creates the same sense of isolation but with a new, stronger drive; it's brilliant stuff.

Worse luck, there's only one other track on the single. On the good side, it happens to be absolutely brilliant. As there are only three tracks here, and as I think I've made clear, they're all excellent, each person will probably find themselves liking one of the cuts more than the others. This final one, Stolen Dog, is definitely the standout for me. It's more down-tempo than the other two and the faded synths ache with desolate longing, a wind noise builds, vaguely hopeful-sounding vocals briefly intrude and swirl back into the ether of the song. It's a stunning exercise in creating something so dense and emotive with so little, and Burial shows an utter mastery over a style he created and still pretty much dominates to this day. The thing which separate Burial from the rest of his contemporaries is that, if you'll pardon me going into potentially pretentious territory, there is a beauty and emotion in his music which is a rare find in any electronic artist, let alone in the dance-centric world of dubstep.

So, not only has Burial come back after a long hiatus with a brilliant selection of tracks, but they're more different than perhaps we had any right to expect them to be. Bring on the next LP.


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