It’s not often two of the most respected musicians in their respective genres come together on a collaboration project and it’s even less often they do so with all the attention-seeking noise of a church mouse. If Will Bevan’s (aka Burial) statements upon revealing his identity ever needed echoing, Moth / Wolf Club certainly reaffirms his notion that he’s got his priorities right; these two are doing this for the love of the genres they’ve played such large roles in establishing, the fame is just a by-product. Interestingly enough, the pair come from the same backgrounds, having both attended the Elliott School in London, along with Hot Chip members Joe Goddard and Alexis Taylor. A conspiracy even has it that the two are the same person, which if anything, may explain just how seamlessly the artists have adjusted their sound to not only accommodate but compliment the other on Moth / Wolf Club.
Even those still hung up on the loss of Burial’s identity mystery will find reason to be intrigued by this release: distributed only on vinyl, packaged in a neat, blank, black sleeve, if it weren’t for the artists and track names being released from the label, Moth / Wolf Club would’ve been entirely uncredited. However, once this is playing, it’s not difficult to recognize the musical signatures scrawled carefully across either of the 9-minute tracks and though the distinction between each is very evident, they come together with expectedly dazzling results.
“Moth” is exactly the song anyone familiar with Burial’s critically adored ‘Untrue’ would expect the East London musician to return with. The dark, gritty atmospherics are a logical continuation on the course Untrue set itself, coming off his rougher but by no means tougher eponymous debut. Though Untrue may have held itself with slightly more polish, it still resonated with a mean, ghostly cackle, like breeze coming down a dark back alley and as the distinctive two-step beat kicks in behind the reverberating bass, “Moth” envelopes its listener with that same lonely sound of a barren urban underground and it’s a feeling that’s all too familiar. Though Four Tet take a noticeable step back here, his elusive background tinkering adds a brighter texture to the mix, with twinkles floating back and forth behind the thumps and fuzz.
“Wolf Club” features Four Tet’s contributions far more heavily, evident from the beginning, with bright, organic arpeggios that sound more akin to playing drum beats on wind chimes than anything computer-generated. When Burial’s two-step enters at the two and a half minute mark, it brings his unmistakable vocal samples with it, weaving in and out of the tattered, shimmering fabric at its leisure, creating an eerie backdrop to the otherwise high-tempo, pitter-patter of Four Tet’s textures. Essentially, if “Moth” felt a bit heavy-handedly Burial, “Wolf Club” sounds exactly how you would expect a Four Tet and Burial collaboration to sound like, with both artists wasting no time putting their strengths on the table.
Moth / Wolf Club showcases a near-perfect mix and match of the talents of each of its masterminds. Both tracks unravel with a slow-moving build up of momentum, more structurally reminiscent of Four Tet's work than Burial's, and end with a swift tapering off of each idea, like building a house in logical, progressive steps and then deconstructing it in reverse order. Their sounds fit together so seamlessly, you can't help but feel like everything just falls naturally into place, or that each simply inspired the other to work to their creative peak; such is the free-flowing tenacity for brilliance on show from two of the figureheads of their respective genres. In just two tracks, the release is easily one of the highlights of either of the duos careers and believe me, that’s not an accomplishment to be taken lightly.