Burial - Streetlands EP Music Album Reviews

Burial - Streetlands EP Music Album Reviews
Continuing in the vein of January’s Antidawn EP, Burial’s latest three-tracker dispenses with the drums entirely, instead exploring an ambient expanse of choir and strings.

While Burial’s music may be famous for its foggy atmospheres and occasional ambient interludes, its off-grid kicks and resampled snares are what make it tick. As a schoolboy, he’d get kicked out of class for drumming on the desk. His self-titled debut album and 2007 follow-up, Untrue, were suffused with the swinging rhythms of jungle and garage. Later output revealed his love of trance music, with its chuggy, thudding kicks, while collaborations with Four Tet and Thom Yorke introduced a wafty house patter to his grayscale textures. Late in 2020, “Chemz” pinned eyelids back with acid stabs and crushed breakbeats. This obsession with percussion made January’s five-track Antidawn EP all the more surprising for its lack of drums—or, really, any rhythm at all.

Streetlands, which arrived unannounced last week, tugs at that same thread, proceeding beatless for three tracks totaling more than half an hour. His trademark re-pitched R&B hooks are also gone. Stripped of the textures that ground Burial’s music however obliquely in clubs or on South London night buses, Streetlands is more evocative of the digital, imagined lands that leak into his music via Metal Gear Solid, StarCraft and Silent Hill samples.

Where Burial’s early records could be interpreted as capturing his corner of London through a lens of sci-fi and soundsystem culture (music critic Simon Reynolds has drawn parallels between Burial and J.G. Ballard’s The Drowned World), Streetlands is less grounded in concrete and the contained chaos of the city. Instead it drifts, generatively, like rolling vistas in a video game, into untrodden environments of its own making—less future dystopia and more unexplored present possibility. Here, the familiar shrinkwrap of hisses, pops, and crackles is about all that ties the music to his habitually claustrophobic world; instead, Streetlands offers open plains of stretched choir and luminescent strings.

Chimes hang in vaulted ceilings. The Flatliners sample—“There’s something out there”—that opens “Streetlands” is shorn of the fearful sense the same words carried on “Loner,” imbued here with something more hopeful, merely tinged with trepidation. “Hospital Chapel” builds on a swelling choral loop, like whale song, that reveals more at every turn. A reversed, tightly wound vocal on the title track takes on an alien quality, not just in its indecipherability but because for how loudly and starkly it pierces the mix, streaking in like a call intercepted from another galaxy—or, in more traditional Burial lore, a pirate radio station cutting through the frequencies. The overall effect is immersive and uncanny, but ultimately lacks the emotional hooks required to pull you all the way in.

In 2014, the once-anonymous producer broke cover with a selfie and a note posted to the Hyperdub website. He thanked “anyone out there who liked my burial tunes & supported me over the years” and shared plans to release more music. But he couldn’t promise anything, due to the impending release of Dark Souls II—an immersive, gothic role-playing game notorious for its extreme difficulty, and infamous for the apparent cruelty with which it strips players down just as they get going. “I need to play that game a lot,” Burial wrote. Burial’s song structures, almost always sprawling, have a similarly masochistic appeal on Streetlands. “Exokind”—amid panpipes and panicked primate calls—is stuffed all the way up to its closing seconds with fragmented riffs that Overmono or Bicep would kill for, teasing the arrival of a drum break that’ll never come. Ten minutes into “Streetlands” you get a chord progression that, with a billowing breakbeat, could soundtrack an arms-aloft sundown on a hilly field. But still no drums. The balance swings between exhilaration and frustration.

The one thing that remains utterly fixed about Burial’s music is how evocative it is, especially of place. In early interviews, he would reference sci-fi movies like Alien and The Terminator in the same breath as underpass jungle raves. Too young to experience either firsthand, he lived vicariously through his brother: ingesting the atmosphere from decaying tape packs, obsessing over the movie motifs and sound effects—motion trackers, dropships, sentry guns—that conjured whole worlds in his imagination and, later, his music. When he names a track “Hospital Chapel,” he’s putting you in the room, where you eavesdrop on last rites or watch rushed marriages in front of the faux stained glass. The spareness with which the song builds signals perhaps his most accomplished piece of pure ambient to date. The rest of Streetlands pumps this world-building with bolder, more fantastical ambition; on the title track and “Exokind” he comes close to bringing the listener all the way with him. But the lines just don’t quite join up, and instead you’re left to hang—unsettled—in the liminal space.

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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Burial - Streetlands EP Music Album Reviews Burial - Streetlands EP Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on November 03, 2022 Rating: 5


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