Burial
Chemz/Dolphinz


4.0
excellent


Release Date: 02/28/2021 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Tonight, I'm gonna hold you tight. But in time, maybe I'll let you go.

Burial has released a lot of music since the mid-2000s, crafting a discography that’s almost as consistent as it is (auto)biographical. With just a couple of missteps toward the tail end of this run, he's never truly lost steam—though the quality may have dipped briefly, the music still sounds and feels like Burial, which can be a more meaningful barometer of the X factor we look for when a favorite artist comes out with new music. Despite this, his EPs were starting to feel stale, and I think we were all expecting (hoping) for something great this time around, something that would remind us why we fell in love with Burial in the first place. I'm delighted to say that Chemz / Dolphinz delivers. Sort of.

Taking a similar to approach to his Claustro / State Forest release, here Burial lays a banger on one side and an ambient chugger on the other. Unlike "Claustro," though, "Chemz" is multi-layered, harking back to the days of Kindred yore where the producer first explored this long-form approach. In this way, the new EP is simultaneously a return to form and a further exploration of his sound. “Chemz” has the familiar markings of a Burial tune: London haze, clicks, clacks, filtered and pitch-bended r&b vocals, stepping rhythm. But as it goes on, it morphs into a fresh mixture of hardcore, serving up some of the heaviest, most frenetic sections we've heard from Burial yet.

Maybe this is why he opts for such a long ambient tune on the B-side. Though it does have quality atmosphere and feels like it has narrative, it can also feel like a mere landing pad after the chaotic beauty of the A-side. Alas, even if it's meant to serve as a foil to its companion, the length and relative emptiness of “Dolphinz” makes the overall package feel lopsided, disjointed, missing perhaps one other song to feel like a proper release. Those willing to be patient may see this long ambient number grow on them, but it's undeniably a weakness of the EP in context.

But the most remarkable thing about Chemz / Dolphinz is how referential it is. By this point, most folks know that this music is sample-heavy and stands on the shoulders of giants (sometimes even Burial’s own shoulders), but here, the weight of his self-reference is notable. This approach invigorates the music with a new sense of reflection, as the producer gazes upon his past in a way that he hasn't quite done since the early 2010s.

By the same token, I don't think it's a coincidence that the most recent release before this one was a compilation spanning his whole discography. Chemz / Dolphinz similarly feels like a summation and shedding process of everything Burial has done prior, and while it may not touch some of his finest work, it's essential Burial and certainly some of his best material in years. I'm hopeful that the next release will break from the mould he's formed, but until then...don't sleep on this one.



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user ratings (41)
3.3
great


Comments:Add a Comment 
normaloctagon
December 19th 2021


8233 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

A little Rough but I couldn’t let this go unreviewed before the end of its release year. Might not make your 2021 lists but you should listen to it! It’s good!

Digging: MF DOOM - Special Herbs 7,8

OSEL
December 19th 2021


502 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

ah my man. well said

normaloctagon
December 19th 2021


8233 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks brother

Ryus
December 19th 2021


26810 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

fck yeah. so excited for his new release

Digging: Bladee - Royal Mix

parksungjoon
December 19th 2021


39352 Comments


ay

normaloctagon
December 19th 2021


8233 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

@ryus same my dude



@park ayyyyy

fogza
December 20th 2021


4148 Comments


interesting, i've listened to this but i declined to rate it at the time. when i do approach it again i'll look for the self referential angle

Digging: Tusks - Dissolve

dedex
Contributing Reviewer
December 20th 2021


10286 Comments


exact same as fogzy. also that was a good read norm!

normaloctagon
December 20th 2021


8233 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thank ya kindly and best wishes for that next spin! Also foggy u should really listen to the Street Halo EP! Big self-reference on this comes from that release, and also judging by your other Burial ratings i think it would be quite up your alley

AnimalsAsSummit
December 20th 2021


5850 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Dolphins is insane

anarchistfish
December 20th 2021


29640 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

sweet. this one went under the radar a bit.

Digging: The Weeknd - Dawn FM

normaloctagon
December 20th 2021


8233 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

@animals bet, Dolphinz has grown on me a lot. Felt hokey to put in the rev but dolphins are often regarded as a symbol of rebirth, transformation…it’s a little on the nose but then again this is Burial we’re talking about he’s been doing pretty on the nose refs since like Rival Dealer…I’m here for it lol



@anarchistfish yeah man, glad to see a 4 from ya as well. I had this at 3.5 initially but it warmed a bit for sure

parksungjoon
December 20th 2021


39352 Comments


didnt expect chemz to sound so old skool

normaloctagon
December 20th 2021


8233 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

same here man! very ravey



"a hardcore" as it were... ; )

granitenotebook
Staff Reviewer
December 20th 2021


1112 Comments


glad this got a review, gj

normaloctagon
December 21st 2021


8233 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thx!

bloc
December 21st 2021


67669 Comments


Chemz rules, but Dolphinz is lame as hell

Digging: Num Skull - Ritually Abused

AnimalsAsSummit
December 21st 2021


5850 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Comedy

normaloctagon
December 21st 2021


8233 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

high asf

Ryus
December 21st 2021


26810 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

dolphinz slaps



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