Music Review: Rival Dealer


<em>Rival Dealer</em>



It&rsquo;s pretty amazing that in this age where everybody knows everything about everyone, UK electronic producer Burial still manages to cloud himself in mystery. The most anyone knows is that he&rsquo;s supposedly named William Bevan. There exists one picture of him, which is on his Twitter account with exactly one tweet from almost six years ago now &mdash; &ldquo;Settling down to some <em>MGS4</em>.&rdquo;

That&rsquo;s it. We know that Burial likes <em>Metal Gear Solid</em>. There are a few interviews with him, but they are rare and he still remains cryptically low-profile. So, all that anyone is <em>really</em> left with is that for years, Burial has remained one of the best and most consistent electronic artists around. And that&rsquo;s exactly why he&rsquo;s chosen to be a mystery.

Since his last album, 2007&rsquo;s <em>Untrue</em>, fans have been clamouring for him to release another full-length, but instead he&rsquo;s kept more true to his genre and released a steady stream of singles and EPs. At this point, people have stopped complaining &mdash; every single single has varied from good to great, and <em>Rival Dealer</em> is no exception.

It&rsquo;s one of the hardest releases from him to wrap your head around, not because it&rsquo;s challenging but because it subverts any expectations of what a Burial release should sound like. The title track starts it off with what you&rsquo;d expect from Burial at this point &mdash; an intense, strained beat that seems to be pushing and striving to dangerous places, warning off other people in the meanwhile.

And then he goes &lsquo;80s.

The last thing we need is one of the best, most modern sounding artists of our time incorporating aspects from that decade just like every other half-baked indie band out there right now. And yet, <em>because</em> he&rsquo;s one of the greats, he manages to still sound like Burial over those cheesy synths and big drums.

There&rsquo;s still the vocal samples that manage to convey one strong emotion with one strong phrase, even if you can&rsquo;t always understand what the phrase is actually saying. The songs still stop and start seemingly randomly, only to reveal a greater plan. Those all come together wonderfully on the final track, one of the best he&rsquo;s ever done.

&ldquo;Come Down to Us&rdquo; is shockingly straightforward for an artist known for pushing boundaries &mdash; it&rsquo;s beautiful in a conventional way, and the vocal samples in it come very close to forming an actual melody. But it never quite gets there, instead swirling around a refined sitar and keyboard for minutes on end.

The track gradually starts revealing its darker side leaking through the grace of everything else. Good wins out in the end, though, with the back half of the song being a triumphant surge of success over some indeterminate foe. It&rsquo;s all very saccharine sweet, but coming from Burial, it&rsquo;s a clich&eacute; that transcends itself. The odds that he&rsquo;ll release another great EP in 2014 are high; look forward to it.