Album Review

Kindred EP

Kindred EP

by Burial


Hyperdub Records
8.8 / 10
7th March 2012

Reviewed by Martyn Pepperell


For South London's William Bevan b.k.a Burial, sculpting intricate yet warm songs which reflect the feeling of wandering through decaying city streets under moonlight is nothing new. Since 2006, Bevan has been consistently serving up stuttering, reverb drenched soundworlds, placing a premium on feeling over mix perfect technical proficiency.

Along the way, he's become one of the most iconic, and yet understated figures in Modern UK music. Transcending the closely knit bass archipelagos begat by the hardcore continuum, these days you'll find him collaborating with Massive Attack, Four Tet and Radiohead front-man Thom Yorke, serving up songs for the ages. Providing a ravecentric counterpoint to the hauntological impulses of Ghost Box Records, since arrival on the circuit, Bevan's "music through the wall" vibes and half-awake, half-asleep textures have permeated an almost terrifying gamut of musical styles.

Aside from his hazy, expansive witching hour soundscapes, another constant in Bevan's career has been his association with Kode9's Hyperdub Records, the label who let him do him, on his terms. Since 2007s Untrue album, Bevan's output has been singles, EPs and remixes. 2011 saw the Street Halo EP, and single collaborations with the aforementioned Massive Attack, Four Tet and Yorke. On the 13th of February, he stepped into the arena for the first time in 2012 with his new three song EP Kindred. Stretching even further than his usual six to seven minute song length, Kindred sees Bevan exploring the feature-length eleven minute plus song range on the EP opener of the same name, and the EP coda 'Ashtray Wasp'.

Clocking in at 11:26, 'Kindred' kicks off with ghostly vocals, low droning tones and incidental weather noises, breaking into a signature mid-tempo Burial breakbeat, one referential to both dark UK Garage (think: EL-B) and the even darker darkside jungle/drum and bass impulses present in peak era Metaheadz and Virus Recordings releases, squelchy fuzz bass and all. Cycling through different configurations of these motifs, Bevan tonal manipulates the vocal sample, bringing tangible humanity into a desolate aural cityscape, in the process working his way through just over one sixth of an hour in what feels like a short few minutes.

Second track 'Loner' works around a similar themes. Eerie pads, whispered vocal snippets, shuffling garage drums (with a filtered Baltimore club edge), ascending textural bass tones and hypnotic squelches and bleeps. Things build in a tight, dramatic fashion, steadily moving through a series of vivid peaks and valleys. Tension and release, fuse and ignition; ad infinitum.

The EP concludes with 'Ashtray Wasp', eleven minutes and forty five seconds of dense vibes. Field recordings and under the radar melodies shift subtly with almost tribalesque rhythms and decaying diva vocals flung into the mixture. Much like 'Loner' the tension builds tightly, female vocal segments uncurling with emotive drama while stargazed melody and pulsing bass bubbles underneath. Taking things to a very ambient place on the middle third, Bevan shifts forms, concluding both the song and the EP magically. As always, these are songs for the ages.




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