Review Summary: For Burial, the darkness has finally come calling
In an interview with The Wire that dates back to the tail end of 2007, Will Bevan alluded to his music as a way of paying tribute to a scene and a time that he was too young to be a part of. His experience with rave and jungle music a communion between younger and older brother, the dialogue the crackle and hiss of vinyl spinning late into the night. Bevan’s subsequent growth and emergence as an artist is, by and large, the result of those trinkets secreted to him in the dead of night. Whether his role as a musician is one of tribute or merely the result of him doing all he can to remember, to keep those memories from fading away into the murky fog of history is secondary; the result, one which ended up as honest as simply opening up a window and aiming a microphone directly into the teeming heart of life in motion, was perhaps all that truly mattered. Burial’s always managed to carry a certain kind of aura about him, as if he’s following in the footsteps of a time that he could only dream about. The footsteps of no one in particular, instead merely those of inspiration, following the echoes in the deep dead of night - a frenzied pursuit amongst the shadows and one that Bevan will probably attest to not having any clear end in sight. Burial
was the nod to mid-‘90s jungle, Untrue
rattling the bones of garage – an identity always present, but as revealing as an image of a man hunched over, hood falling over the dark circles of blurry eyes, cigarette smoke circling him like halos.
Yet for all the attention and all the acclaim, Bevan has never really played his cards close to his chest. As much as can be deciphered that points to his longing, it’s a journey that he seems unwilling to take by himself. The sound of footsteps scattering into the night, of tires crunching indelicately down a deserted street, the rain hammering relentlessly against glass equally at work supporting the tired heads of the nocturnal – Bevan isn’t looking to replicate, but instead to design a world recognizable enough to be not just his, but yours
. But while it might be a world that seems overly familiar, even something casually embraced, Bevan lives it. He makes music to fill in the gaps of the city he calls home, the in-between world that exists between each skyscraper and concrete monolith, buildings bought down by years of use and misuse. Even the embrace of a new home on Street Halo
was met with the confidence that stems from association, even if that memory might not have been his own. Kindred
however is a much more sinister entity, a turn into unfamiliar territory, where the shadows fall in the absence of a much different light. And for the first time, Burial seems to be looking for a way out, or at the very least, someone to help him find his exit.
To start with, Kindred
is a release steeped in contradictions: the EP’s numerous false endings, ‘Loner’s’ time-travelling relic of an anthem at odds with the discovery, the acceptance present in ‘Kindred’; the many faces of ‘Ashtray Wasp’ and the way that track (more of a suite, really) ends with the passive resistance of a new day yet loops right back into ‘Loner’. It shows the artist as being, perhaps for the first time, hesitant, not of direction but approach. For the first time he fails to truly internalize the struggle that’s long been present in his music, the constant push and pull, the back and forth that’s been at the core of his dichotomy, the split identity of Bevan the day worker, and Bevan as Burial, the last man pushing the buttons to keep the moon in orbit. The voices he utilizes are now shouts and cries amidst the turmoil, the former echoes and whispers dissolved into the night, etched into the fading brick and peeling paint of his underworld. As if he’s forgotten how to shut them out, he finds himself in a cage, surrounded by the caterwaul of a faceless crowd, each lone voice only contributing to the descending oblivion.
Even ‘Loner’, perhaps the most straightforward of tracks present, matches the cacophony by constantly building in an attempt to usurp the shaking of his damaged sceptre, damage control that fails to squelch the intensity. And even though the track finds itself at odds with the rest of the artist’s canon, with its 4x4 precision and rave sequencing, it is still unmistakably Bevan – melodies are distant and scratchy, like the sound of life in the next room caught in the sphere of a drinking glass held in place by weary arms, or like a pirate radio broadcast, attentively captivating under the light of a torch and a roof of bed sheets; it’s the sound of London, but this time by way of the smoky techno of Berlin. ‘Kindred’ plays out more like a gentle understanding, a meeting point between the faceless romantic and a possible counterpoint; a positive or perhaps negative, an alternate charge. It begins with Burial at perhaps his most venomous, his jittery and fluid percussion never as fearsome as it is here. But in the act of acceptance he cuts it dead in its tracks, only to re-emerge, with partner in hand, now shot under a lens of burgeoning anticipation, and, for a lack of a better word, a certain kind of hope.
Which sets up ‘Ashtray Wasp’ in the most ambiguous of ways, which explains not only the track’s reach but its constant set-ups and illusory climaxes – it’s a song in a constant state of evolution, as definable as a silhouette wrapped in fog or a welcoming smile hidden behind the most diaphanous of fabrics. As perhaps the pinnacle of Burial’s creations it finds itself indebted to its owners many guises and identities, cycling through overture to finale in a kaleidoscopic blink of an eye. It’s Burial at his most restless, scrapping ideas mid sentence, changing tact and form, applying himself to all manner of shapes and disguises. It’s a death shroud of sorts for his former ambiguity, a journey away from a sheltering corner, or patch of roof, and in this process of acceptance, of moving on, he inadvertently takes his alter-ego, his downtrodden persona, and places it far above the highest echelons of both myth and legend. And Kindred
as a whole release is that almost painful acceptance, that unwillingness to let go and move on, to get gone, lost in the crowd. Like a pang of guilt does he sample his former self, like a torch carried to its final flicker of illumination. And to hear all that, to be able to almost feel
that happening, is to bear witness to an artist working at the apex of his talent.