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Sunday, 19 July 2009

Burial & Four Tet - REVIEW

Some dubstep conspiracy theorists claim that Burial (Will Bevan) and Four Tet (Kieran Hebden) are in fact the same person, and this is not unreasonable to believe. They both attended The Elliott School, London (as did three members of Hot Chip) and Burial keeps his identity buried exclusively within the mystery of his music. They both make experimental electronica, each drawing influence from the other, Burial venturing more into ambient dubstep with Four Tet indulging in everything from folktronica to underground dance.

To further excite the conspiracy theorists, Radiohead, who have worked with Burial, listed a post on their blog last year entitled "introducing Kieran 'Burial' Hebden". Four Tet also claims to be one of the few who knows Burial personally as Burial. Surely with such a widely known name of Will Bevan, it would only be a matter of time before his identity was brought to mainstream attention. The fact is, people want to know the face behind the music and the intelligence behind his ambient creations.

Now Bevan and Hebden, whether they are the same person or not, are releasing collaborative work, and it is a cut above the rest. Burial is known for being highly self critical - he started work on his self titled debut album in 2001 before its 2006 release. He has released one other mercury prize nominee album since then, 2007's Untrue. Forthcoming album 'DJ Kicks' has been repeatedly postponed from an initial reported release date of 23rd June 2008. Four Tet on the other hand is prolific, completing six albums under the alias from 1999 to the present day. His quality control is a little lower, producing a wide range of ecletic releases compared to Burial's specific niche market musicality.

The result of the cross-over is certainly more Burial than Four Tet. The 12" two track release, on Kieran Hebden's label 'Text', featured a completely black sleeve vinyl with no liner notes. No information was given about the release other than the names of the respective artists. The vinyl release features two tracks at 17:55, entitled 'Moth' and 'Wolf Cub'.

Moth is 9 minutes 3 seconds long and features almost a minute of Burial-esque ambience before it begins. What happens after 56 seconds is quite difficult to explain in reference to anything i've ever heard before. The sound here is almost three dimensional, slightly unreal in tone. It is a regular and clearcut tribal ambience which four bars later, combined with a standard but intensely effective dubstep beat makes for an experience not far from hypnosis. It retains every instance of that harsh urban reality which Burial so consistently shows us. Snippets of lost conversation and eery ringing intensify in the background throughout the song on an upwards slope, but at no point does the song lose its originality or its passive mood. Four Tet's influence emerges about half way through, with an almost aquatic sounding riff not far from some of Four Tet's work on 2005's 'Everything Ecstatic', emerging confidently into the forefront of the song, slotting in perfectly around the resilient tribal rhythm.

Wolf Cub weighs in at 8:55. If Burial and Four Tet had a song each, this one would belong to Four Tet. It begins as Moth ends, with an poly-rhythmical aquatic effect and calm ambient background noise. About a minute in emerges the harshest noise of the 12", a glitchy version of the tribal Burial effect on Moth, and by the 5 minute mark this song has become true ambient dubstep. The crackling water effect is joined by a heavy dubstep beat and the song builds on from there. Occasional atmospheric twangs of bass and jarring synths intermittently enter and depart, surrounding the sonic landscape. The song builds on an uphill slope from here on.

This release requires enough insight into it that i'm almost glad for my readers sake that it is only two tracks long. Any news of an album, or an album at all looks highly unlikely, but as Burial and Four Tet fans know, results in this field are unpredictable and surprising. Anything could happen with this collaboration.

If it so turns out that this collaboration really are the same person, then good luck to them, i find it quite difficult to believe they haven't already been diagnosed Schizophrenic.

Burial & Four Tet - Moth
Burial & Four Tet - Wolf Cub

Buy Burial & Four Tet


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