This past Wednesday, mysterious, masterful producer Burial dropped an EP called Rival Dealer. It contains some of the most interesting music he’s ever released, and it sees the producer continue to move away from the formula (nothing wrong with having a formula if it works) he had pursued since his game-changing 2006 debut album.
“Don’t be afraid to step into the unknown,” says a woman’s voice on “Come Down To Us,” and that is exactly what Burial has done on this EP. The songs are no longer restrained and skeletal, with only short, repeated vocal snippets, and mere wisps of melody glimpsed briefly through the cold, early morning mist. No, these songs have genuinely anthemic, uplifting moments. “Hiders” starts with a golden piano-based section, before expanding and exploding into what basically amounts to a driving power-ballad. “Come Down To Us” has melodies that huge crowds could sing along to.
Do you remember the first time you heard Burial? Most likely the music entranced and intrigued you because it sounded like nothing else out there. Hearing “Distant Lights” for the first time, or sitting and listening through Untrue late at night was a special experience, bordering on religious. of course, subsequent listening to Burial’s music remained incredibly enjoyable, but little could match those first moments of wonderment—the excitement of discovering something new.
Listening to Rival Dealer is like listening to Burial for the first time. It’s not what you expect, it may catch you off-guard at first, but it is exactly what you need. This is electronic music that will nourish your soul, if you let it.
With the music still sinking in, Burial shared a message with BBC radio stalwart Mary Anne Hobbs this morning, giving the EP some context with the following words:
I put my heart into the new EP, I hope someone likes it. I wanted the tunes to be anti-bullying tunes that could maybe help someone to believe in themselves, to not be afraid, and to not give up, and to know that someone out there cares and is looking out for them. So it’s like an angel’s spell to protect them against the unkind people, the dark times, and the self-doubt.