Burial “Kindred EP”

It’s near impossible to try and encapsulate the genius of Burial.  A mysterious electronic music architect who leans into the darkness and invites us in.  His cavernous, sometimes building, sometimes diluting style blends the blackest bits of drum-n-bass with the sway of down-n-dirty dubstep.  When I first heard Burial’s Untrue LP on vinyl, thanks to my editor at Positive Feedback and dear friend Dave Clark, I was in a sonically induced trance.   That sounds like hippy-dippy bullshit, but I’m attempting to describe a moment of inspiration sparked by new music.  That’s not the easiest thing to explain .

Burial’s music is mesmerizing, hypnotizing, and any other “ing” you can think of as long as it expresses a sound that is primal and modern.  Sometimes it feels like the artist just started experimenting with all sorts of synth sounds; oscillators, drum-machines, who knows.  With these tools he creates sharp pads and stabs that sound completely unique.  I’m not sure if anything can be “completely unique” or not.  What I’m trying to illustrate is that when I listen to Burial I don’t think of any other bands.  That’s downright refreshing .  He  moves these edges across pulsating drums and clicks, vocal samples and other distant tones and snippets that creates this feeling of vastness.  Burial makes some of my favorite music to listen to while driving at night.

The Kindred EP is another masterpiece.   That’s not something I get to say often as a music writer, at least not in my experience.  I’m referring to consistency in an artists body of work, not just a hit single or a YouTube sensation.  If you’re a fan ofUntrue or his self-titled album you should love this EP.  The title track kicks the record off with these floating, cosmic synths (think of a night sky, described through recorded sound).  Then, and only Burial could pull this off with such finesse, “Kindred” sounds instantly old.  It’s almost as if you plucked this record from your parent’s basement and dropped it on a dusty turntable.  Only the sound doesn’t bother you, instead, it’s so engaging you sit there, eagerly waiting for what’s next.  The hiss; the old school crackle & pops are then framed by this intense, clicky, drum-n-bass loop with samples that sound like a young street performer pounding away on their white plastic bucket with drum sticks so worn they have their own distinct snap.  All of this feels like it’s playing under a starlit sky.


“Loner” (first track, side B) does have an element I haven’t noticed in Burial’s work before: An almost trance-like, cascading melodic sample.  It kicks in after the drums and it’s wide-open.  It’s an echoing sound that’s endless.  The first thing that came to mind when I heard it was this scene in a film that features a car’s path through Manhattan (all the twists and turns, the lights), only sped up so fast everything, including standing buildings, had trails.  It’s energy builds, slowly and steadily.  It’s another perfect track for a fast night drive!  ”Ashtray Wasp” (what a name) exemplifies Burial’s amazing ability to create a tangible feeling of depth in a track with minimal elements.  Now I’m not saying this music in minimal in composition, quite the contrary if you listen closely to all the nuances.  I mean each sound, each sample, is so quick, but the way he blends it all together makes a brilliant concoction of dark, streamy synths, drums and clicks.  There’s also this great sweeping sound, akin to maybe a passing airplane.  Then he breaks it down, and you are thrown into this well of reverbed darkness, a sound that only Burial can produce.

In all, Burial’s Kindred EP has been a fantastic sonic joyride for me.  I recommend it to any fan of dubstep, experimental electronic music, or even some of the great minimalists like Steve Reich or Philip Glass.  I can’t get enough of it.  This artist digs deep, and I just love the sounds he creates.  Check it out if you’re feeling adventurous.


Michael Mercer is a veteran reviewer of music and audio components. He got his start working for The Absolute Sound as a teenager and then made his way over to Atlantic Records, working with the legendary producer Arif Mardin. Considered one of the leading "crusaders for personal audio", Mercer can be found writing for many audio publications on the Internet.

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